Research and Development

One of HHLA’s strategic objectives is to continuously improve the efficiency of its operating systems and consequently its competitiveness, by developing application-oriented technologies. The main focus of these activities is therefore on engineering and IT-based innovation projects. Due to close collaboration with technical universities, institutes, industry partners and government authorities, joint projects can be planned, managed and developed.

In the 2017 financial year, HHLA mainly focused its resources and available capacity on continuing its research in the area of battery-powered container vehicles for horizontal transport.

Container Terminal 4.0

The Container Altenwerder (CTA) is one of the most highly automated container terminals in the world. Since it opened in 2002, HHLA has constantly been researching and working on improving and expanding automation at the site. Right at the start, a paradigm was established whereby automated work areas are separated, isolated and off-limits to staff in order to guarantee occupational safety. This principle has always been upheld. Today, however, this paradigm is preventing the company from ramping up its automated processes as it inevitably excludes them from areas used by people. The research project “Container terminal 4.0 – a paradigm shift in the automation of container via human–machine interaction rather than separation” is to be conducted as part of the German government’s Innovative Port Technologies (IHATEC) incentive scheme. The project’s main objective is to develop automation solutions for various container crane systems used at the terminal in work areas shared by people and machines (e.g. alongside ships and trucks) and to implement them as prototypes. At the same time, the experience, knowledge and evidence gathered during this process should play a fundamental role in establishing the safety standards needed to create a reliable framework for future automation projects.

Further Development of HVCC Software

Also as part of the IHATEC incentive scheme, the Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center (HVCC) launched the project “HVCC software – further development of interface- and real time-based software for the cross-operator coordination of barges, and mega-ships at a universal and multi-terminal port with nautical restrictions”). The aim is to expand the software to incorporate the various operators involved in ship calls. This could eliminate redundant working processes and improve data quality. The project’s main aims are as follows: Adapt the port to the challenges posed by persistent growth in the volume and size of container vessels. Boost international competitiveness and avoid unnecessary and inefficient transport, thus reducing the environmental impact. Accelerate the use of digital networks in maritime logistics and the port industry while making more effective and efficient use of the infrastructure of the Port of Hamburg and its upstream waterways.


SustEnergyPort is another IHATEC project being conducted by Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH (HPC) to enhance energy sustainability in the port sector. As part of this project, a structured, model-based process is to be developed and filled with content to enable port operators to identify suitable measures for improving their energy sustainability, thereby minimising their environmental impact and enhancing their profitability. The aim is to develop a structured process which will equip ports and terminals to achieve targeted improvements in their energy sustainability.

Performance Certified

In order to document their performance, the Container Terminals Altenwerder (CTA) and Tollerort (CTT) once again completed certification in accordance with the Container Terminal Quality Indicator (CTQI) in the reporting year. The standard, which was developed by the Global Institute of Logistics and Germanischer Lloyd, checks criteria such as the safety, performance level and efficiency of a terminal on both the water and onshore, as well as its links to pre- and onward-carriage systems. With their successful certification, the terminals once again confirmed their high levels of performance and compliance with all quality standards.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

Feeder/Feeder Ship

Vessels which carry smaller numbers of containers to ports. From Hamburg, feeders are primarily used to transport boxes to the Baltic region.