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UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Transport

Robert Siersema

Acting CEO, Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT)


Robert Siersema was appointed Acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Terminals in 2022, in addition to his current role as CFO. He has held senior roles within the ports and logistics industry covering Europe, Africa, Middle East, Latin America, and North America, most recently serving as director of terminal investments at Terminal Investment Limited. Siersema has more than 16 years of experience in the ports and logistics industry and as a senior member of management teams internationally. He holds an Executive MBA degree with honors from HULT International Business School in Dubai. Siersema has also completed executive programs at Esade Business School.

"The first item is safety; Abu Dhabi Terminals has successfully crossed 9.5 million man hours without any lost time injuries."
Abu Dhabi Terminals’ main comparative advantages include its robust safety protocols, strong ownership profile, quick turnaround time, and being the first semi-automated container terminal in the MENA region.
Khalifa Port’s container terminal is ideally located. What are its main comparative advantages over other sites?

The first item is safety; Abu Dhabi Terminals has successfully crossed 9.5 million man hours without any lost time injuries. This has partly to do with being semi-automated, preventing pedestrian traffic in the yard and our continued focus on building a safety culture. The second reason Abu Dhabi Terminals has comparative advantages is that we have a strong ownership profile. The vast expertise and solid credit rating of Abu Dhabi Ports helps us with our strong operational performance, getting the company’s finances optimally structured and maintain excellent relations with all stakeholders. In addition, our other shareholder, Terminal Investment Limited, is one of the largest global port investors, developers, and operators. ADT benefits closely from that partnership by leveraging their knowledge and helping us improve our efficiency and performance. Another advantage is that we have a quick turnaround time for vessels and trucks, making the entire supply chain more efficient, both land and waterside. Currently, we average well above 34 gross moves per hour (GMPH), which is a testament to the efforts of the team.

Abu Dhabi Terminals manages and operates the first semi-automated container terminal in the MENA region. How does this milestone mark the growing importance of automation and advanced technologies?

Abu Dhabi Terminals has proven that automation is the way forward. Being semi-automated has many advantages such as highly increased safety and quicker operations. For example, within the yard, we can optimize our “housekeeping moves” by the fully automatic stacking cranes 24/7 due to an algorithm ensuring optimal yard conditions for loading and discharging any vessel before it berths. This also reduces operating costs as we can load and discharge with high efficiency. In addition to having a fully automated yard, we also have fully automated drop-off containers for all the trucks that visit ADT, though in the event of issues, we have a remote operating section that can intervene and drop the container on the container truck chassis manually. We are always striving to be at the forefront of technology. For example, traditionally terminals have a position detection system (PDS) that is used for tracking containers and equipment. The traditional PDS works on GPS; however, we are working with Microsoft to create a system called smart container tracking to deploy AI and machine learning for accurate detection tracking. We expect this project to have higher accuracy and be more cost-efficient than traditional PDS. This is a new technology that ADT is using, and it can also be rolled out to other terminals commercially.

Abu Dhabi Terminals has a diversified workforce, represented by 25 nationalities. How do you define corporate responsibility?

ADT is proud of its diversified workforce. Our number-one priority is the safety of our employees, and we start every meeting with a safety discussion. We perform daily safety tours and have given anyone within the terminal that observes unsafe practices, not in line with the safety protocols, the authority to intervene and stop operations until the situation is safe to operate. The safety and protection of our staff and customers are critical within ADT. Our company values are safety, innovation, integrity, honesty, and excellence toward our customers and people. When we speak about our people, we want fairness, responsibility, mutual respect, and two-way communication. We also run an annual wellness challenge for a period of three months that aims to motivate and create awareness for our staff to be healthy and fit and have multiple gatherings within ADT where we interact with staff. Regarding corporate social responsibility, we take part in different initiatives such as food distribution during the Ramadan, ocean clean-up initiatives, and adoption of trees campaign. We created onsite accommodations for our staff during the pandemic, though now that everything is going back to normal, we will donate the appliances we purchased.



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