District 2020 & DP World

On the morning of the 10th of October, the last excursion in Dubai took place. The Study Tour visited Jebel Ali, the largest port in Dubai, by bus. Next, the group learned more about the works of DP World within the port via two presentations in their Expo 2020 pavilion and explored the Expo 2020 terrain.

Jebel Ali is the largest port in the United Arab Emirates and the 8th largest in the world, currently consisting of four terminals and producing % of the national GDP. It was opened in 1979 to assist Port Rashid, which is located Northwards at the mouth of the Dubai Creek. The bus tour took the group through terminal 1 and 2 with views on terminal 3 and 4. The wide roads and multiple lanes at the entrance and inside the port increase the road capacity and the number of trucks that can enter and leave the port area. Table 1 shows the capacity of each terminal. TEU is the measurement unit for cargo volume, where 2 TEU equals a regular container that fits a truck. Maersk and MSC are the two largest container operators in Jebel Ali, together responsible for 70% of all the containers in the port.

Terminal 1Terminal 2Terminal 3Terminal 4
9.000.000 TEU6.000.000 TEU4.000.000 TEU3.100.000 TEU
Table 1 – Jebel Ali Terminal Capacity

Firstly, the bus drove around terminal 1, which was opened in 1979. At the entry, there was a blue building which is used by the customs to check the containers that go in and out the port on illegal cargo. This building is also present at the other terminals of Jebel Ali. The containers that arrive at or leave the port by truck are transported to a storage area, which is called the yard of the port. For the cargo that does not fit in containers, such as raw goods, there are special storage units in terminal 1. The terminal is equipped with rubber tire gentries (RTG) which allows the movement and organization of containers from yard to ship and vice versa, which can be seen in figure 1. The waterways in terminal 1 have a depth of 15 meters, which makes the port also accessible for large and heavy ships that lie deep in the water. The terminal is operated manually by labor forces that work in 3 shifts during a day. The terminal operates 24/7 and 365 days a year, without automatic vehicles.

Figure 1 – Jebel Ali

Next, the tour took us to terminal 2, which was opened in 2007. In contrast to terminal 1, terminal 2 was build on reclaimed land. The bus entered through a barrier with an automatic code. The guide explained that trucks have 45 minutes to enter and leave the terminal again, otherwise the token will expire, incurring a fee to the driver. This system was implemented to avoid unnecessary delays of cargo. Terminal 2 also has a yard, together with some RMG’s to unload and load containers from and to ships. These RMG’s are more environment friendly, as they use rails and electricity compared to the RMG’s in terminal 1, that run on wheels and fuel. On the yard, empty containers are allowed to stack up to 6, while filled containers are allowed to stack up to 5. Tag systems are used to codify containers and to keep track of their locations.

Terminal 3 opened in 2014 and is semi-automated. The largest part of container operations in this terminal is executed automatically, however, the automated sequence of activities is still being controlled and tracked by a human control room. Terminal 4 was opened in 2021 and is located on an artificial island, like terminal 2. Only one side of the terminal is currently in use and equipped with a boxbay. This device is fully automated and replaces RMG’s, able to stack 11 containers on top of each other. Finally, the bus went through the Jebel Ali free zone, which was established in 1985, also controlled by DP world. Goods can be imported and exported up to this area without paying taxes. There are 8.600 companies located in the free zone with 160.000 employees. The free zone is located strategically between Jebel Ali port and cargo airport Al Maktoum.

DP World is a global logistics provider that originally started as a port operator in the UAE in 1972. The fourth floor of the DP World pavilion showed the companies history and the growth of Dubai from 1970, as can be seen in figure 2. Within the pavilion DP World also presented their future vision for ports, including electric/automated vehicles and the BoxBay system, and the transportation of cargo from the port, using the hyperloop.

Figure 2 – DP World Pavilion

After some refreshments, the first presentation was given by DP World on their approach towards decarbonisation. Starting with general information on climate change and why it is so important to make changes. Emissions produced by a company or organisation are tracked in three scopes: scope 1 is direct emissions from for example burning fuels in trucks, scope 2 and 3 are indirect emissions where scope 3 emissions are further down the value chain. Most companies only track scope 1 and 2 emissions, but DP World is starting to also track scope 3 emissions to give a completer picture. DP World has seen an increase in their emissions over the past 5 years, especially the marine services, as their company is growing. Together with the increasing pressure of investors and customers and their own vision for climate mitigation, the company started focussing on reducing emissions in 2019. Which they do by electrifying vehicles, making processes more efficient, using renewable energy, using low carbon fuels, and compensating carbon. The biggest challenge in the shipping industry to reach the carbon neutral, and net zero targets in 2050 is the marine bunker fuel, for which a more sustainable alternative is not on the market yet.

The next presentation, given by Patrick Bol, focussed on the BoxBay system. This is an innovative port design which is build and operated in the Jebel Ali port. For any terminal the main constraint is the yard capacity and performance. In a regular yard the TEUs (Twente-foot equivalent unit) are stacked on top of each other. This system is space demanding and inefficient as 50% of of TEUs needs to be rehandled as units are picked up by trucks or transshipped. The BoxBay system stacks up to 11 TEUs in a library-like system, where a unit is picked from the rack by an automated crane. This system allows for 300% more capacity, with 3000 TEUs per hectare. Solar panels are located on top of the roof for production of renewable energy, but no further attention is given towards sustainable and circular design. DP World also has plans to further improve the system by adding automated trucks that transport the containers from the ship to the box. The innovation is successful due to a joint venture between the equipment manufacturer and end user, bringing together technology and operation knowledge.

The last part of this excursion included some free time at the Expo 2020 terrain after the lunch. During this time, the study tour explored the terrain which was heavily used in the period October 2021 – March 2022. During this period the Expo has brought many people from all over the world together for collaborations and exchanging knowledge. Currenty, half of the pavilions have been removed and, due to a lack of planning for future purpose, the other half is not in use. It should be noted that the Dutch pavilion was designed to be circular so little material is wasted.

To conclude, the excursion to Jebel Ali and the DP World pavilion has been interesting and educative for the participants and was a nice final visit in Dubai.