SINGAPORE – “A shining example to the world” that “operates in near darkness at night” is how Mr Jeremy Nixon, chief executive officer of global container shipping company Ocean Network Express (ONE), described the new Tuas Port.

Unlike other port terminals, where bright lights illuminate container and ship yards at night, Tuas Port’s yard areas have no mast lights.

Once containers are placed on landing pads, automated driverless machines move them to where they need to be in the dark, using motion sensors and cutting down on electricity use.

This is but one of many features of the new Tuas Port that shipping lines and exporters said keeps Singapore ahead of its competitors. The increased efficiency and smaller carbon footprint more than justify Singapore’s higher operational costs, they added.

Ahead of Tuas Port’s official opening on Thursday, several shipping lines and exporters said they have already been working with operator PSA in the last year to iron out kinks and make container movement more efficient there.

Mr Lars Kastrup, chief executive of Singapore shipping company Pacific International Lines (PIL), said he is confident that the port’s productivity will soon be comparable to Pasir Panjang Terminal, with more than 25 to 30 container moves per hour.

“As Tuas Port opens in phases, the container traffic currently split among the various city terminals will be migrated and consolidated, reducing inter-terminal transfer time and domestic emissions,” he said.

“This would help bring down cost through economies of scale and improved efficiencies.”

ONE’s Mr Nixon noted that Tuas port is also prepared for the mega container vessels of the future, with a quay length of 26km.

Today, the largest container ships can already exceed 350m in length. They are expected to exceed 400m in 20 years.

“Tuas Port is future-proofed for the next generations of mega container vessels. Supported by intelligent systems and automated equipment, Tuas Port will take terminal operations to the next level of efficiency,” he said.

Mr Laurent Olmeta, French container company CMA CGM’s Asia-Pacific CEO, said it is still early days for companies to have a “full experience” of Tuas Port, but that CMA CGM has already received some 30 vessel calls there since November last year.

The opening of Tuas port is timely as it helps free up more yard capacity in Pasir Panjang Terminal, especially during a supply crisis that has caused more containers to be stuck here, he said.