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Trends in marine terminal automation
Our latest edition of PTI offers several viewpoints on how environmentally friendly practices can be adopted at ports and terminals, and the significant financial gains to be had as a consequence. With the financial climate showing no signs of recovery, this edition also offers some smart financing options for ports. As always we have the latest technical developments in container handling, dry and liquid bulk handling as well as an interesting solution to port security- ‘sniffer bees’.
An unpredictable economy and fluctuating container volumes are two key challenges marine terminal operators continue to navigate, creating new demands for efficiencies. These uncertainties have caused a renewed interest in process and equipment automation technologies as a path to increased efficiency. When deployed and integrated with the terminal operating system, these automation technologies can support and increase terminal capacity, optimize equipment utilization, and improve overall container handling performance in the terminal. Process automation involves the integration of the TOS with third party hardware solutions that are utilized at the gate, in the yard and at the quay. Various forms of hardware including real time locating systems (RTLS), radio frequency identification (RFID), global positioning satellite (GPS), and ocular character recognition (OCR) can automate the tracking of vehicles and the movement of containers to and from the ships, within the yard, and in and out of the gate, providing real time data streams on asset identity, location and performance. When integrated with the terminal operating system, process automation technologies can improve the visibility of container and truck movements, to optimize asset allocation, automate the delivery of ‘next move’ information to the equipment driver, and ultimately increase the productivity of the terminal.
The evolution of automation Since the late 1980s, the marine terminal industry has been supported by a growing range of expert information systems to coordinate and more recently automate the planning and management of container and equipment moves in a complex and demanding business environment.TOS was originally used for ship and yard planning, but as container throughput, yard and vessel sizes and the number of shipping routes served increased, systems were expected to also optimize gate planning, equipment control, ground stowage strategies and human resource management.
Prior to the launch of the world’s first terminal operating systems, many operators used paper and wall charts to manage container movements. The skyrocketing increase in global container throughput – nearly 700 percent from the end of the 1980s to 2008 – has led to the development of programs, systems, equipment and devices to enhance operating efficiencies, improve management controls and business intelligence and connect marine terminals with the wider supply chain. Terminals and systems once expected to cope with just 50 moves an hour now have to manage 100 or more moves in larger container yards with exponentially higher container stacking positions.
Current trends in automation In this equipment intensive business, the ability to make terminal fleets more productive will be a major differentiator. Looking forward, process automation technologies will help extract better utilization and extend the lifespan of these expensive assets. The ability to maintain real time asset visibility gives the industry a key to handling more business with existing assets. Remote monitoring technologies will also support the industry by improving the environmental and energy performance of its equipment, with real time tracking of operational parameters, such as fuel consumption, oil usage and running temperature. The terminals that are doing it right leverage both process automation and equipment automation to address the optimization of business intelligence. Having visibility into the data, created from process and equipment automation, provides marine terminals with real time operations and business intelligence. The results are real, in some cases delivering 10 to 20 percent or more in productivity improvements. Terminal operators can use the data from process and equipment automation, optimization tools and real time location to ultimately make better business decisions.
Looking for ROI This year, Sociedad Portuaria de Cartagena (SPRC) in Cartagena, Columbia will implement a terminal process automation solution that integrates Navis Marine Telematics Software (MTS) with RTLS technology provided by Zebra Technologies, to track the location of street trucks, utility tractor rigs (UTR) and general assets in real time. The tracking system will provide location information to the Navis SPARCS TOS, offering real time asset visibility, increased domain awareness and improved operational efficiency for SPRC. As the first terminal in South America to deploy RTLS technology to track truck movements, SPRC will be able to identify queue order in the rubber tire gantry (RTG) stack. The increased visibility into street truck location allows SPRC to optimize RTG job assignments and correctly prioritize competing gate and vessel jobs for peak efficiency and cost savings. SPRC utilizes Navis PrimeRoute to automatically dispatch tractors to the optimal point of work in the yard, increasing utilization and lowering the number of vehicles required to move cargo. To increase efficiency, the RTLS Technology will provide real time location information to PrimeRoute to automate the manual data entry that equipment operators are required to key in, removing the dependency on manual data entry and allowing the equipment operators to focus on their primary objective – moving containers. This greatly improves the effectiveness and accuracy of Navis PrimeRoute, as well as the overall safety of the operation. Once the RTLS infrastructure is in place, SPRC also plans to track additional assets, such as people, personal vehicles and baggage carts.
© Rahyab Rayaneh Gostar Co.