A significant investment into a new automated gate system is helping ensure that Teesport, owned and operated by PD Ports, continues a substantial growth rate in its container volumes.

PD Ports launched the automated gate system as part of an ongoing multi million pound investment in world class technology that will enable the port to support future international trade growth across the North of the UK.

The new system is designed to handle increasing demand for services at Teesport, now the UK’s fifth largest container port, as a gateway to global markets.

Handling an average of 26 vessels a week and 30 million tonnes of cargo a year, Teesport is the UK’s northern gateway for global shippers serving worldwide markets including Scandinavia, the Baltics, the Netherlands, Russia, Belgium, France and Poland as well as handling monthly arrivals from Japan.

Container volumes at the port have grown by 12 per cent annually for more than eight years, even during the recession, compared to an average growth in the container industry of between two and three per cent.

Jerry Hopkinson, PD Ports Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman, says that the port is “growing exponentially at a rate well above the rest of the industry.”

“We’ve gone from being a small gateway container port only a decade ago to being the fifth largest container port in the UK,” says Hopkinson.

“But we also recognise that to continue growing, we need to adopt the very best processes and systems.”

The automated gate is the third phase of technological investments at Teesport, following previous investments in the Navis system, which employs artificial intelligence to build up information about the way containers flow through the port and uses it to manage processes while improving efficiencies for port users, as well as a new and advanced vehicle booking system.

The automated gate will further help Teesport retain industry-best average gate-to-gate times – how long it takes for a vehicle to arrive, unload, reload and exit the terminal – even as volumes increase.

“At about 30 minutes, our average gate-to-gate times are excellent in comparison to most other UK Ports,” Hopkinson continued.

“Haulage contractors picking up or dropping off containers at our port can now use an app to pre-book their load in, and arrive at an automatic portal that uses camera technology to scan the container number. The driver has a smart card he swipes to then be let straight into the terminal to offload before heading out again.

“The port’s continued investment, which has exceeded £1bn in the last decade, will not only benefit our customers directly but it will positively impact the wider region and contribute to making the North of the UK globally competitive.”

The automate gate has been welcomed by Teesport’s customers, who are sharing the benefits of a slicker, speedier system. The system was successfully tested with PD Ports’ own fleet of more than 30 vehicles before being rolled out to selected hauliers prior to launching.

With its excellent multimodal connections and recent technological advancements, Teesport is now well positioned to handle more of the northern export and import market that has traditionally gone through major container ports in the south and south-east, supporting a bright future for Teesport and the North of the UK.

Teesport’s Intermodal Rail terminal, which opened in 2014, offers more direct connections to Scotland than any other port in the North with two daily services running to Grangemouth and Mossend.

The second of these services, officially named the Teesport Express, was launched in 2019 after a seven-figure sum was invested by PD Ports to meet customers’ transportation needs for goods coming into Teesport from the Continent.

Timed purposely with the arrival of the P&O Ferries service, the rail service guarantees maximum efficiency for customers moving cargo into Scotland.