Nieke Roos
2 April 2021

Between the end of this year and mid-2023, VDL Automated Vehicles will be supplying 77 hybrid-electrical AGVs to Hutchison Ports Europe Container Terminals Rotterdam (ECT). The contract is valued at tens of millions of euros. This is the third large order of automated guided vehicles ECT has placed with the Eindhoven-based industrial conglomerate, with earlier deliveries totaling 85 AGVs.

This third batch will replace older, diesel-driven vehicles. The new models, fully developed by VDL, are low-noise and consume over 50 percent less fuel than their predecessors. They’re going to entirely autonomously transport containers 24/7 between the quay and the storage area, at the world’s largest AGV terminal, the ECT Delta Terminal at the Maasvlakte.

Credit: VDL

Unlike many other suppliers of container movers, VDL designs its AGVs analogous to regular road vehicles. This makes it possible to track developments in the automotive sector. The modular construction of the AGVs enables VDL to share technologies among all of its vehicles so that innovations – like a fully electric drive – can be easily integrated.

One of the largest innovations that will be incorporated into the new AGVs, is VDL’s state-of-the-art navigation system. Based on a comparable, so-called platooning solution used by large car manufacturers (link in Dutch), it provides for more efficient container transhipment: because the AGVs can communicate with each other, they can drive closer together. This results in shorter waiting times between trips, meaning more containers can be transported per AGV.


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