Upgrading of Bintulu Port project slated to be awarded in 3Q

An aerial view of Bintulu Port.

KUCHING: Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB) will invest in a fully-integrated and state-of-the-art port operating system for Bintulu Port.

The tender for the project has been called and the contract is expected to be awarded in third quarter of 2024 (3Q24) according to group chief executive officer Ruslan Abdul Ghani.

He said the project would be implemented in phases over the next two years and upon operational will revolutionise the overall management of the port, which is operated by wholly-owned subsidiary Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd.

On the port’s digitalisation exercise, Ruslan said several initiatives have been introduced or are to be implemented this year to integrate advanced technologies into every facet of the port’s operations.

“The deployment of ‘Mobile Pilotage’ exemplifies our commitment to operational excellence, allowing pilots to record their movements in real-time for optimised resource management during marine operations, significantly moving away from traditional paper-based system.

“The vessel berth planning system is testament to our proactive approach in resource planning and management, enabling the electronic planning of vessel queues at each berth. This system replaces outdated manual methods, enhancing our efficiency and readiness in maritime operations.“In parallel, our adoption of Microsoft 365 through the Modern Workspace initiative has revolutionised our work environment. By leveraging cloud storage, video conferencing and chat functions, we have created a more agile and collaborative workspace that is well-suited to the dynamic demand of our industry,” he noted in the company’s 2023 annual report.

Ruslan said BPHB would be implementing the autogate system to enhance the efficiency of operation, adding this pilot project is expected to commence at Samalaju Port this year before it is rolled out company-wide in 2025.

The autogate system will increase the efficiency of logistics movement going in and out of the port.

Samalaju Port is operated by another BPHB’s wholly-owned subsidiary Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd. The port is designed and built to cater for the energy-intensive industries at adjacent Samalaju Industrial Park.

“We have implemented the pilot project for our face recognition solutions to enhance security which will be fully implemented throughout the company in 2024.

“We have also completed the overall adequacy check of all our closed-circuit televisions and will be tendering a contract in 2024 to implement the recommendations. This will be a prelude to our effort going into automation, coupled with the implementation of the port operating system.

“We have taken some first steps in this regard with our nested drone project to enhance efficiency of security patrolling. This was piloted in Samalaju Port, being the first port in Malaysia to employ this technology and we plan to implement this in Bintulu Port in 2024.”

Ruslan added there were several other digital initiatives which had been undertaken, including a significant investment to enhance digital security to address cyber threats.

BPHB group’s ambition is to have a fully integrated operation by 2026, and to be a fully digitalised port by 2030 and to become a Smart Port by 2050 by leveraging on artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain and 5G.

In 2023, Bintulu Port continued to face challenges in getting its key equipment, like quay cranes, tyred gantry cranes, reach stackers and towing terminal tractors to reach desired operational standards.

“Equipment uptime, availability and reliability fell short of expectations, highlighting a crucial area for improvement. We target to have 100% of our installed equipment to be operational by 3Q24, from a low 60% uptime rate in 2023.

“The need to meet the demand of our customers is paramount and we need to provide the services and the solutions they require. Thus, we need to expand our existing capacities, acquire more efficient equipment and more land for future expansion.”

Ruslan said BPHB also needs to pivot into new areas based on the future needs of its current customers as well as prospective customers, especially in the green energy space in line with the aspiration of the Sarawak government to spearhead the clean energy agenda in areas such as hydrogen, biomass and carbon capture and storage.

On carbon emissions, he said BPHB has actively pursued initiatives aimed at reducing its carbon footprint and contributing to a greener future.

“Our efforts in enhancing operational efficiency and exploring renewable energy (RE) sources are a step towards our ‘net-zero carbon emission” aspiration by 2050.

“Our initiatives to promote RE sources, such as solar power, and to explore the possibilities of electric-powered equipment, electric vehicle (EV) and hydrogen powered tugboats, signify our commitment to innovation in sustainability.

“The endeavours will not only reduce our carbon footprint but also position Bintulu Port at the forefront of the industry’s transition towards greener and more sustainable maritime operations.

“We have begun the necessary steps to install solar panels on our roofs, initiated discussions with partners for EV vehicles, including EV heavy equipment and EV or hydrogen powered tug or pilot boats.

“We hope to develop the pathways towards further maturity with the plan to start the implementation of these initiatives from 2024.

“We have also completed our comprehensive carbon footprint assessment for scope one, two and three emissions in 2023. Even though our scope one and two emissions are relatively low, we are progressively taking steps to further reduce this while exploring offset options.

“Hence, we have embarked on tree planting initiatives among others and will continue to focus on this moving forward,” he added.

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