Port of Singapore: Minimising Disruption Using Automation

Amid global crises, Tuas Port has streamlined its supply chain by embracing automation and establishing an innovative command centre to oversee operations

Singapore’s PSA Tuas Port is on the path to becoming the world’s largest automated container terminal, boasting an annual handling capacity of 65 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) once it reaches full operational capacity in the 2040s. 

The inauguration of the first three berths during Phase One of its development in 2022 marked a momentous milestone in Singapore’s maritime history, firmly establishing the nation as a global hub port powered by cutting-edge technologies. 

With a visionary and forward-looking approach, Tuas Port has undergone a transformative journey by embracing automation and establishing an innovative command centre to oversee its operations and maintenance. This has allowed the port to streamline its supply chain and provide enhanced support to PSA Singapore’s valued customers in managing cargo flows. 

As a crucial component of this digital transformation, event-driven architecture (EDA) was selected as the backbone for the critical distribution of information. 

Port automation: A growing imperative

Amid the rapid expansion of global trade, ports today face mounting pressure to enhance their capabilities and streamline operations. 

Ho Vee Leung, Regional Head of IT for Southeast Asia at PSA Singapore, explains: “Long-standing manual processes, while once sufficient, are now inadequate in meeting the escalating demands of the supply chain industry, such as real-time tracking, customer expectations and the ever-important search for efficiency, productivity and profit growth.”

Recognising the need for operational resilience and adaptability to maintain a competitive edge and accommodate future growth, PSA embarked on a mission to build the world’s largest fully-automated port.

Known as Tuas Port, the project marks a significant milestone for Singapore as it ushers in a new era for PSA Singapore’s operations and reaffirms the nation’s stature as a global maritime hub. 

The first phase of Tuas Port opened in September 2022, with the entire port scheduled for completion by 2040. Singapore’s handling capacity will be doubled and the port will be able to service vessels more than 400m in length.

“It will also work in tandem with the airport,” Leung goes on, “to strengthen the current connection between the nation’s air and seaports, allowing the economy to benefit from greater trade volumes.”

In the meantime, Tuas Port has grown to eight berths, increasing Singapore’s handling capacity amid various supply chain crises experienced in recent years. Most tasks are performed by unmanned driverless vehicles known as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV), while new job opportunities have been created for the 500 existing staff members. 

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. 

Elevating efficiency through EDA

To support this massive undertaking, PSA turned to an EDA platform – underpinned by Solace – to orchestrate the port’s automated operations and maintenance activities. 

This approach sees 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 empowers ports to optimise their resource allocation, make informed decisions ahead of time and effectively streamline workflows – ultimately boosting overall productivity and effectiveness across operational processes. 

Tuas is a port that never sleeps, with the world’s largest fleet of more than 200 AGVs transporting containers within the port 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Regular transmission of instructions to each AGV is crucial, therefore, for port operations to run smoothly. This is achieved through the adoption of Solace PubSub+ to provide 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,” says Leung. “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 traditional request-response systems, EDA empowers Tuas Port with real-time data processing and instant communication capabilities, which ensures uninterrupted operations and dependable communication channels, bolstering overall efficiency. 

“For example, with port operations spanning various hybrid environments, devices and applications, a holistic and comprehensive event mesh is required to distribute data in real time, ensuring each one can perform effectively.”

PSA expects to more than double the AGV fleet as Tuas Port evolves throughout subsequent development phases. The impact of EDA is set to continue reshaping port operations, setting a new standard for efficiency, adaptability and customer satisfaction.

PSA unlocks transformation with EDA adoption

Naturally, a transformation such as this doesn’t happen without some challenges rearing their ugly heads along the way.  

Several complexities emerged during Phase One of the development at Tuas Port, including the process of ensuring AGVs have an always-on communications design able to handle faults at various layers of the technology stack. 

This was eventually achieved through frameworks provided by Solace to enable full control over the switchover process. 

“Navigating these obstacles necessitates strategic collaboration with our technology partners, seeking solutions that cater to PSA’s requirements,” Leung continues.

“As Tuas Port’s automation 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, we can then fully unlock the potential of EDA and drive greater efficiency and customer satisfaction in the global landscape, particularly as Tuas Port embarks on three more development phases.”

Reliably orchestrating operations across container handling equipment connected via cellular networks, WiFi and other networks in the port environment is a complex undertaking, according to Robert Chin, Assistant VP for IT Governance & Infrastructure at PSA. 

However, in keeping with the vision to deliver reliable operations at scale, Solace continues to work alongside PSA to deliver a robust and simple-to-maintain EDA platform for data communications.

Leading the maritime industry into the future

Successful integration of EDA means PSA Tuas Port has raised the bar when it comes to port automation and looks set to become the world’s largest automated container terminal. 

“This achievement highlights the pivotal role of EDA in reshaping the maritime industry and connecting communities beyond the port, both physically and digitally integrated with local and global supply chain ecosystems,” concludes Leung. 

“Moving forward, PSA Tuas Port is well positioned to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as the maritime landscape continues to evolve and automate.”


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