Innovation on the move: First driverless truck in Singapore

On October 24, the first autonomous truck started operation at ExxonMobil's Integrated Petrochemical Complex in Singapore.

Katoen Natie has started operating its first driverless truck at ExxonMobil’s world-scale integrated manufacturing site in Singapore, transporting products between the company’s packaging and intermediate storage facilities. The pilot truck will operate on a 24/7 basis moving some 250,000 tons of product annually. After a six-month test run, the project will be gradually expanded to 12 trucks, moving some 3 million tons of product annually.

Innovative and tailor made solutions

Mr. Koen Cardon, CEO of Katoen Natie Singapore, said, “We combine engineering, technology and logistics operations to offer innovative and tailor made solutions to customers in a variety of sectors. This project is a perfect example of the innovation we bring to the forefront to create value for our customers as well as creating the opportunities to upgrade the skills of our workforce.”

“We are excited to support Katoen Natie in making this innovative breakthrough in chemical logistics, and helping the world envision how the future of transport will look like,” said Damian Chan, Executive Director, Energy & Chemicals, Singapore Economic Development Board. “The transformation of our industry cannot happen without a well-trained and future-ready workforce, and Katoen Natie’s commitment to retrain and upskill their workers exemplifies Singapore’s continuous efforts to ensure our talent is ready to take on jobs of the future.”

Automation to improve productivity

Mr. Robert W. Johnston, ExxonMobil’s Singapore Chemical Plant manufacturing director said, “Driverless trucks are an example of how the industry continues to adopt automation to improve worker productivity. We are glad to be supporting Katoen Natie in its efforts to safely operationalise new and innovative solutions at our manufacturing site.”
Mr. Cardon added, “We operate 165 logistics terminals in a network of 36 countries. We selected Singapore as the location for this project given that it has both the vision and the right business environment to undertake such projects. Our partnership with the Economic Development Board has been of key importance for the realization of this project. In addition, many other parties including a team of MBA students from the Singapore Management University (SMU) and the IE Business School have been pivotal for this project.”
SMU’s Associate Professor of Operations Management (Practice), Professor Lieven Demeester, who guided students in his previous role as Associate Dean of MBA Programmes commented, “We are proud of our MBA students. They helped Katoen Natie identify the technology partners, initiate a productive collaboration between them, and assure the financial viability of the project.”

Katoen Natie also worked with Dutch industrial VDL Groep as partner for this project, who carried out the truck conversion and automation at its local VDL Automated Vehicles technology centre here in Singapore. Mr. Theo Toussaint, Executive Vice President of VDL Groep, said, “We’re delighted to partner with Katoen Natie in this driverless truck project. The ambition of VDL is to become the leader in electric and automated heavy-duty vehicle applications and we see this project as another big step towards our goal.”

Not an endgame

Since establishment in Singapore 20 years ago, Katoen Natie has developed many new solutions in Singapore that includes safety inspections by drone, transport management through a specially developed mobile phone app and a range of new technologies in packaging and shipping operations. Mr. Cardon said, “The pilot driverless truck project is not an endgame but a milestone in a wide range of innovative solutions that we are introducing for our customers worldwide. Our Singapore operations have become a centre of excellence for Katoen Natie which will enable us to create value for our customers across the world.”

Watch the full video of the first autonomous truck operating in Jurong Island Singapore

Other news articles

  • 16.10.23
    Dienst Noodplanning Gouverneur organiseert grootschalige rampoefening bij Katoen Natie Liquid Services in Zwijndrecht
    Bij Katoen Natie Liquid Services in Zwijndrecht vond een grote rampoefening plaats.  Ruim 40 figuranten en medewerkers namen deel. Het scenario: Een tank die plots leegstroomt en zo een product lekt. De plas vat vuur met een grote brand tot gevolg. Met deze oefening willen de Dienst Noodplanning van de gouverneur van Antwerpen, de verschillende hulpdiensten, de gemeente Zwijndrecht en andere partners het noodplan van Katoen Natie Liquid Services testen, alsook de onderlinge samenwerking in geval van een crisissituatie evalueren en bijsturen. Scenario Het scenario van de rampoefening gaat als volgt: een koppeling van een tank met een vloeibaar product schiet plots los waardoor de tank leegstroomt. Meteen daarop ontstaat er een brand die enkele simulanten treft.  Zij lopen daardoor brandwonden op. De medewerkers van het bedrijf moeten samen met aanwezige bezoekers van Port of Antwerp-Bruges zo snel en veilig als mogelijk geëvacueerd worden. Multidisciplinaire operationele coördinatie is daarbij essentieel, om zo de evacuatie en de samenwerking tussen verschillende hulpdiensten in goede banen te leiden en efficiënt te laten verlopen. Ook de medewerkers van het psychosociale hulpverleningsteam van de gemeente Zwijndrecht komen in actie om de geëvacueerden op te vangen en bij te staan. Leerrijke oefening De oefening verliep vlot en toonde aan dat de vooropgestelde procedures ook in de praktijk werken. Voor deze oefening kwamen brandweer, politie, medische diensten, communicatieverantwoordelijken, gemeente Zwijndrecht, de dienst noodplanning van de stad Antwerpen, Port of Antwerp-Bruges en het betrokken bedrijf in actie. Organisatie De medewerkers van de Dienst Noodplanning van de gouverneur van Antwerpen organiseerden deze oefening samen met de medewerkers van stad Antwerpen, de gemeente Zwijndrecht, de brandweer- en politiediensten, de medische diensten, Port of Antwerp-Bruges en Katoen Natie Liquid Services. Gouverneur Cathy Berx: “De medewerkers van de federale Dienst Noodplanning organiseren geregeld rampoefeningen waaraan de verschillende disciplines deelnemen. Zulke oefeningen dragen er in zeer belangrijke mate toe bij dat de hulpverlening vlot verloopt bij een reëel incident. Dankzij oefeningen leren de  betrokken hulpdiensten en mensen elkaar en elkaars procedures beter kennen en zijn ze beter ingespeeld op elkaar. Dit leidt tot efficiënte informatie-uitwisseling, een vlotte samenwerking dankzij goede coördinatie. Ik dank alle deelnemers meest hartelijk. Heel in het bijzonder dank ik Katoen Natie Liquid Services  voor de uitstekende samenwerking en voorbereiding.” Evaluatie Oefening baart kunst. En dus zullen er ook uit deze oefening ongetwijfeld leerpunten volgen.  Om die leerpunten te kennen en te delen, komen alle betrokken actoren binnenkort samen voor een grondige evaluatie van de noodplanoefening, zodat nadien bijgestuurd kan worden waar nodig.  Want dat is net de essentie van deze oefeningen:  lessen trekken, bijleren, elkaars kennis en inzichten delen.  Zo kan men in geval van een echte crisissituatie sneller en efficiënter schakelen.
    Read more
  • 11.10.23
    Katoen Natie and Intergamma Unveil Innovative AutoStore Solution

     Partnership between Katoen Natie and Intergamma leads to a new storage and picking system with round the clock robots.

    Katoen Natie and Intergamma are now utilizing AutoStore, the world's fastest and most reliable order processing system per square meter, for e-commerce order deliveries to Intergamma's customers. This cube-shaped automated system, comprising approximately 900 m³ and equipped with 20 robots, has been in operation since the end of September 2023 at Katoen Natie's logistics platform in Kallo, which is the largest "multi-customer" logistics platform in Europe. The installation and implementation are part of a joint future project between Katoen Natie and Intergamma, following the recent extension of their successful 10-year partnership by an additional 5 years. For Intergamma, the Benelux leader in the DIY market and currently in a strong growth phase, this means that all its e-commerce products can reach private consumers even faster and more efficiently. "For Katoen Natie, the expertise built with AutoStore is an additional incentive to attract new customers to our logistics platforms with innovative solutions," says Fernand Huts, Chairman of Katoen Natie. Katoen Natie is implementing this goods-to-man automated storage and picking system for the first time at its Kallo logistics platform. This implementation is part of the shared desire of Katoen Natie and Intergamma to ensure they can continue to work together in a future-proof manner. Katoen Natie Engineering Solutions, Katoen Natie's in-house research department, is closely monitoring the process and operations, and is also exploring the opportunity to invest in additional AutoStore installations on other logistics platforms. Intergamma in a Growth Phase In the Benelux, Intergamma is the market leader in the DIY industry with three brands: GAMMA Netherlands, GAMMA Belgium, and Karwei, which together operate 384 stores in Belgium and the Netherlands. "Ongoing developments in Intergamma's online channels have led to increased volumes," says Joost De Beijer, CEO of Intergamma. "The new investment in AutoStore in collaboration with Katoen Natie aligns perfectly with our strategy, in which e-commerce will continue to be crucial in the future while we simultaneously make our supply chain more sustainable. We aim to evolve into a 'one-stop shop,' where consumers can turn to GAMMA and Karwei to address their entire DIY project in one go and have their supplies delivered or picked up wherever they prefer." Intergamma expects that the investment will ultimately lead to increased capacity, flexibility, better reliability, and lower costs.   How Does AutoStore Work? Bins with inventory are stacked 16 levels high next to and on top of each other within the grid. The grid is the customized aluminum rail system surrounding the bins and robots. Autonomous robots travel on top of the grid and continuously collaborate to retrieve stock for orders from the grid. They do this by lifting bins from the grid and rearranging them until they have the correct one. This bin is then presented at one of the 3 picking stations. The picker retrieves the goods from the bin and processes the order. The bin is returned to the grid. The algorithm ensures that stock for orders is always retrieved in the most efficient manner. This automation has no impact on existing jobs, as the pickers can now accomplish more with the same team. Additionally, it reduces picking errors, ensures continuous inventory management, optimal availability, and no single point of failure. Round the clock robots Customers can place orders online until 9:00 PM, and Katoen Natie hands over the packages to the carrier by 11:00 PM, ensuring that the packages are delivered to the customer's doorstep the next day. While Katoen Natie sleeps at night, the robots keep working. During the night, they ensure that the fast-moving products of Intergamma are always located in the top "drawers" of the grid and are thus picked up the fastest. All e-commerce orders for Intergamma are transmitted directly to AutoStore through the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) electronic data exchange system. AutoStore is also connected to Katoen Natie's existing packing automation. As a result, each box is automatically sealed after picking and is not touched until it is loaded. Since September 25, a significant portion of Intergamma's products has been picked by AutoStore robots at Katoen Natie. However, starting from the end of October, the planned stock of Intergamma will also be stored in AutoStore. This will include more than 21,000 items distributed across 31,000 bins, with 6,528 of them subdivided into 4 compartments, bringing the total to 50,584 locations with stock. Our Autostore in action on YouTube: Click Here
    Read more
  • 19.07.23
    Embracing a Greener Future: Introducing Belgium's First Produced Electric Truck
    We are thrilled to share a momentous stride on our journey towards a more sustainable future. Today, we take great pride in announcing the launch of our very first electric truck at Katoen Natie - a groundbreaking achievement made possible by our valued partnership with Volvo Group Volvo Trucks Belgium. As a key step in our unwavering commitment to sustainability, the electrification of our esteemed truck fleet marks a transformative chapter in our organization's environmental efforts. With sustainability at the core of our values, this significant milestone sets the stage for a greener and more efficient logistics landscape. This moment wouldn't have been possible without the invaluable collaboration and support from Volvo Group Volvo Trucks Belgium, a partnership that epitomizes the potential impact of decarbonizing the transport industry on the entire logistics value chain. We are honored to have acquired this groundbreaking electric truck, powered by Volvo, which will play a vital role in servicing our esteemed customer, Atlas Copco. Through this strategic collaboration, we reaffirm our shared dedication to driving sustainable transportation practices. Join us in celebrating this achievement as we embark on a journey towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. At Katoen Natie, we believe that our people truly make the difference, and together, we can pave the way for a brighter and more environmentally responsible tomorrow. 🚚💚 #Sustainability #Innovation #ElectricTruck #GreenerFuture #Collaboration #Logistics #Transportation #KatoenNatie #SustainableTransport #EnvironmentalEfforts
    Read more
  • 05.06.23
    Crossport Acquisition
    Katoen Natie is pleased to announce the acquisition of Crossport, a logistics service provider that offers warehousing and logistics services in Wachtebeke, near Ghent in Belgium. Following the recent take-over of Transport L'Ecluse, this is a second acquisition that strengthens our market position in the port of Ghent. On the right and left bank of the Ghent - Terneuzen canal, Katoen Natie owns and operates various logistics platforms with a total storage capacity of 375.000 m². By acquiring Crossport, we further expand our footprint in Ghent and we can even serve customers who import/export their cargo via the neighboring ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Terneuzen. Crossport has been founded in 2016 and offers value-added logistics services such as stuffing of containers and cross-docking of general cargo. The company employs 15 people and has a total storage capacity of 120,000 m² of which 51,000 m² are covered. In recent years, the management of Crossport has invested significantly to improve its warehouses and service level. Katoen Natie will follow this path forward and will secure the future growth of Crossport. We are convinced that the combination of Katoen Natie and Crossport will enable us to serve our customers in the port of Ghent even better than before.
    Read more
Load more