PSA inks agreement with SUTD to develop talent for Tuas mega port

(From left) Dr Wong Woon Kwong, SUTD's director of the office of industry development; SUTD president Chong Tow Chong; Mr Ong Kim Pong, regional CEO of South-east Asia at PSA International; and Mr Ng Kok Cheong, head of human resources at PSA Corpora
(From left) Dr Wong Woon Kwong, SUTD's director of the office of industry development; SUTD president Chong Tow Chong; Mr Ong Kim Pong, regional CEO of South-east Asia at PSA International; and Mr Ng Kok Cheong, head of human resources at PSA Corporation, at the signing ceremony on Dec 10, 2018.PHOTO: PSA

SINGAPORE - Singapore's port operator has inked an agreement with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to develop a pipeline of talent for the future mega port in Tuas.

A joint statement by PSA and SUTD said the memorandum of understanding signed on Monday (Dec 10) is aimed at producing data science, info-communications and engineering professionals for the Tuas port.

All of Singapore's port operations will eventually be consolidated in the Tuas port, which will harness big data as well as adopt the latest port technologies, including smart systems and automation.

The mega port will open in four phases, with the first berths expected to be operational in 2021.

Under the agreement, PSA will provide port-related content for SUTD's curriculum, so students will learn about smart technologies and systems used in port operations. Details are being worked out, said a PSA spokesman.

Both parties said they will collaborate to develop a talent pipeline to support PSA's network of info-communications technology (ICT) infrastructure.

PSA will also offer internships in the areas of data analytics, smart technologies and infocomm technology to SUTD students.

Mr Ong Kim Pong, regional chief executive of South-east Asia at PSA International, noted that the maritime industry is seeing rapid changes and jobs are being redesigned.

"We are building the competencies needed to reinforce our digital readiness," Mr Ong said. "PSA values SUTD's strength in combining design thinking and technology, and nurturing technically grounded innovators. This timely partnership allows both parties to capitalise on each other's strengths."

SUTD president Chong Chow Tong said the university's partnership with PSA will offer students valuable hands-on experience in the actual port environment.

It will also encourage the free flow of information, ideas and innovation between both organisations, Professor Chong added.

Prof Chong said SUTD already collaborates with PSA on port-related undergraduate projects and internships.

He added that the university, with PSA, is looking to develop data science and maritime-related courses, as well as conduct research and development on next-generation ports and terminals.

When fully completed by 2040, the Tuas port will have the capacity to handle up to 65 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo a year. In 2017, container throughput rose to 33.7 million TEUs, from 30.9 million in 2016. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and PSA are already laying the groundwork for a smart port.

Automated guided vehicles have been deployed in a trial at the Pasir Panjang port, along with automated yard cranes and quay cranes. These automated systems will be scaled up in the Tuas port.

Among other things, the MPA and PSA are also exploring the use of drones and robots for tasks ranging from inspection and repairs to the distribution of spare parts.

Singapore's territorial waters off the future Tuas port are the subject of an ongoing dispute between the Republic and Malaysia over maritime boundaries.