Student Research

Advancing Technology in Port Terminals

A capstone project submitted to the faculty of the California Maritime Academy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs.

Advancement in technology has forced massive labor changes and transitions in the United States and the world. While the need for manual labor continues to plummet as robots and machines continue to take over these jobs; the need for engineers, programmers and repairman climbs. While skilled laborers are still very much in need in this country, many labor unions are facing major issues because of the implementation of technology in their work fields. The maritime community faces one of the most current examples of this dilemma. Advanced technologies and automation in ports means that longshoremen and many other port terminal workers who once had income and job security are now fighting for their livelihoods. In this thesis, all aspects of port technologies are looked at including the societal, political and economic impacts of this technology. Combining thorough research with background knowledge and direct interviews of individuals who deal with this technology on a daily basis, it can be shown that the pros of automation and advancing port technology are overshadowed by the cons. These cons not only relate to the workers themselves but the entire port communities that share this local economy, and finally the cons can even strike the ports themselves, as it is seen how regulations, massive capital for implementing technology and issues in infrastructure can make advanced technologies an overall loss for some ports.