Next Level Information

Bring on the bots and big data: container terminals embrace next generation technologies

Press Release   •   May 27, 2016 14:51 BST

London 27.05.2016 – The revolutionary impact of robotics, digitisation and smart data on container terminal operations will form the backbone of this year’s TECH TOC conference, part of the 40th TOC Europe Conference & Exhibition, taking place 14-16 June 2016 at the Hamburg Messe, Germany.

Container terminals are on the cusp of truly exploiting next generation technologies. No longer just a matter of thousands of tonnes of steel, gears and cables, the efficiency of terminal operations now depends as much on fibre optics, bandwidth and smart data.

On Day 2 of TECH TOC, 15 June, no less than four individual sessions will cover Robotics & Automation in the global container terminal space.

Leading industry speakers will take stock of the latest projects, sifting through these to distinguish those that promise step changes in terminal operations and those that are likely to remain on the drawing board, at least for near future.

IoT at TOC

Speaking in the first “State of the Union” Robotics & Automation session, Dr. Yvo Saanen, Managing Director of TBA, will explore the advent of the new wave of terminal automation in “Container Terminals 4.0”.

In particular, he will outline how the Internet of Things (IoT) offers various opportunities to the port sector. Machines, devices, containers, trucks, even infrastructure, all have the potential to become intelligent, he will tell participants. “Each element along the logistics chain carries vital information regarding destination, purpose and specific contents,” says Dr. Saanen. “What stands out, however, is the large scale robotisation that is now taking place in ports in Rotterdam, Sydney and Long Beach.”

Since the early 1990s, terminal operators have been working on robotising equipment at their facilities, and with the recent opening of new facilities at Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte II, application of robotics and automation technology in the container industry reached its all-time high. However, Dr. Saanen will also question whether the rest of the port industry will follow quickly, or whether a period of stunted development will take place?

Furthermore, the social impacts of on-going robotisation, the technologies realistically available, and the extent of integration must also be taken into account.

“By expanding the use of sensors and sensor-based solutions we can enable a different level of equipment intelligence and M2M interfaces,” says Alex Duca, Head of Design and Automation at APM Terminals, who speaks in the same session. Mr. Duca called for a “sensor revolution” in his speech at TOC Europe 2015 and, in a just-published interview ahead of this year’s event, says that today “we do see more initiatives from our suppliers and partners to develop sensor-based systems to target improved operations and reduced waste.”

The current difficult market conditions facing the container terminal industry should be viewed as “an opportunity,” adds Mr. Duca. “Continuous pressure on prices forces port operators to look deeper for cost efficiencies and consistency. Machine level automation and digitisation of our equipment fleet will provide improved operator performance.”

Also in the same session, Uno Bryfors, Vice President Crane Handling, at ABB, will look at “The Future of Container Handling”.

Outlining how automation in container terminals has evolved from the mid-1990s to today, Mr. Bryfors will explore best practices in current automation deployment and look ahead to the future vision of a fully automated container terminal.

Attendees will discover what is now becoming standard, and what is still cutting-edge. Terminal operators will also be advised the factors they need to take into consideration when building new automated terminals or upgrading existing facilities for the future.

Equipment impact

Later in the day, further Robotics & Automation sessions will drill down into this critically important aspect of modern container terminal operations. In particular, the impact on specific container handling technologies will be explored.

Priv.-Doz. Dr.-Ing. Eva Savelsberg, Senior Vice President, INFORM will speak on “Agile Rail Crane Optimization”.

“The automation debate was for years mainly focused around efficient waterside processes, smarter yard stacking and quicker truck/gate turnaround times”, says Dr. Savelsberg. “Only recently has the industry become aware of the possible gains in rail yard operations. High performing hinterland systems are mission-critical in order to manage peak demands and customer expectations.”

Agile optimisation software can be used to speed-up and optimise the decision-making processes in rail crane operations. It is able to calculate routing options, handshake possibilities in the transhipment area and double-cycle opportunities within a fraction of a second, immediately translating the best results into optimised job order sequences for each crane, irrespective of their level of automation, i.e. manual, semi or full automation.

Turning to the container yard, Allan Jones, Head of Business Development at ITS, will explain new thinking and processes needed to support future automation of rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs), a workhorse of container stacking operations around the world. “Success rests not only on the automation of the RTG itself, but also in automating the exchange between the RTG and other cargo handling equipment, to ensure required container moves are identified without manual intervention,” says Mr. Jones.

Automation of the twistlock handling process on the quayside is one of the critical developments in the journey to full ‘berth to gate’ automation. Lars Meurling, VP Sales and Marketing for Bromma, will update delegates on latest developments with the company’s ALP Automatic Lashing Platform, including details of an upcoming implementation as part of a major new automated terminal development.

Terminal automation as art

Ismo Matinlauri, Vice President, Solution Sales & Marketing, Automation & Projects for Kalmar, will inform participants on “The Art of Terminal Automation – Defining a Successful Deployment Strategy”.

While a lot of attention has been put on the capabilities of different equipment and systems enabling automation, many terminal operators lack a comprehensive, practical understanding of the big picture, he says. Even though all terminals are unique, there are items common to all, and Mr. Matinlauri’s presentation will provide insight into the critical success factors and how to manage them during project implementation, including key differences between automation and manual operations, using real life examples.

Over the course of 2.5 days, TECH TOC will field over 40 speakers to discuss key aspects of container terminal operations and technology, including the new IMO SOLAS container weight verification rules, advances in quay crane design and technology, software, systems and sensors, robotics, automation and ‘people in ports’, focusing at recruitment, skills development and training for the next generation workforce.

Event format maximizes networking opportunities

TOC Europe comprises three concurrent debating forums – the Container Supply Chain (CSC) Conference, the TECH TOC Conference and Bulk Ports & Technology – supported by a trade exhibition where industry peers can meet suppliers, swap notes and debate the high level discussion points presented in the conference sessions.

The Container Supply Chain (CSC) element is an executive-level discussion forum focused on international trade, container shipping, port development and logistics, bringing together shippers, shipping lines, 3PLs, port authorities, terminal operators, government and other key supply chain members.

This is complemented by TECH TOC, designed to engage operational executives in the practicalities of port and terminal performance, with in-depth debates on facility design, automation, operations, equipment and technology from berth to gate.

Bulk Ports & Technology keeps delegates updated on the latest trends in dry bulk shipping, commodities markets and advances in materials handling technology, transportation, and port operations.


About TOC Worldwide

For 40 years, TOC Worldwide has provided the market-leading conference and exhibition forums for the global port and terminal industries and their customers. Taking place each year in the world’s four key shipping hubs – Europe, Middle East, Americas and Asia – each TOC is now a complete container supply chain event for its region, bringing together cargo owners, logistics providers, carriers, ports, terminals and other key members of the container supply chain to learn, debate, network and foster new business solutions.

Notes to editors:

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