Event-driven Architecture is what powers the world’s (impending) largest automated container terminal. Find out more here…
Maritime ports today face mounting pressures to enhance their capabilities and streamline operations. Once sufficient tried-and-proven manual processes are now inadequate in meeting the escalating demands of the supply chain industry in aspects such as real-time tracking, customer expectations, and performance factors of efficiency, productivity and profit growth.
As case in point is one of the world’s largest fully automated ports — Tuas Port of the PSA in Singapore — which is expected to double the country’s cargo handling capacity by 2040.
Most of the work at the port is performed by unmanned driverless vehicles known as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV). Aligned with its goal of becoming the world’s largest automated container terminal, the port also plans to implement AI, data analytics, robotics and other applications to bolster the nation’s maritime prominence.
To support this massive undertaking, PSA has chosen to use an event-driven architecture (EDA) to orchestrate automated operations and maintenance activities.
How it works
EDA is an approach where interconnected systems, devices, and processes exchange real-time event-based information such as vessel arrivals, container movements, and equipment status changes through an interconnected web of event brokers.
This ‘event mesh’ empowers ports to optimize their resource allocation, make informed decisions ahead of time, and effectively streamline workflows, which can ultimately boost their overall productivity and effectiveness across their port operational processes.
At Tuas Port, the world’s largest fleet of over 200 AGVs, transports containers within the port 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in a port that never sleeps. Regular transmission of instructions to each AGV are crucial for port operations and this is achieved through timely and reliable event delivery at scale. By harnessing the power of EDA, Tuas Port gains the ability to process vital data as events unfold, facilitating timely and informed decision-making. Acting as a resilient “shock absorber”, EDA ensures the seamless flow of information, guaranteeing in-order delivery of data, even during temporary disconnections or message flow surges.
Unlike the traditional request-response systems, EDA empowers Tuas Port with real-time data processing and instant communication capabilities, which ensure uninterrupted operations and dependable communication channels, bolstering the port’s overall efficiency.
PSA expects to more-than-double the AGV fleet as Tuas Port evolves through its subsequent development phases, and the impact of EDA will continue to reshape port operations, setting a new standard for efficiency, adaptability, and customer satisfaction in the maritime industry.
EDA adoption challenges
During development, several complexities emerged, including designing AGVs to have an always-on communications design able to handle faults at various layers of the technology stack. This was eventually achieved through frameworks developed to enable full control over the switchover process.
Navigating these obstacles necessitates strategic collaboration with the port’s technology partners, seeking solutions that cater to PSA’s requirements.
According to Robert Chin, Assistant Vice President (Infrastructure Planning), PSA, it is a complex undertaking to reliably orchestrate operations across container handling equipment connected over cellular networks, WiFi and other networks reliably in the port environment. The port’s EDA partner, Solace, “was alongside PSA in delivering robust support to maintain the EDA platform for data communications as we continue our vision to deliver reliable operations at scale.”
As Tuas Port’s automation program progresses, and real-time data generation is amplified, the existing networks and architectures must be resilient and scalable to accommodate the influx of information. By addressing integration complexities and investing in a robust infrastructure, PSA will then be able to fully unlock the potential of EDA and drive greater efficiency and customer satisfaction in the global landscape over the next three final development phases.