IDENTEC SOLUTIONS' CTAS System @ Baltic Container Terminal Gdynia

Automating one’s operations isn’t anymore a fad for tech-wired enthusiasts only, but more often than not – simply a necessity to stay competitive in today’s market. That’s why IDENTEC, supported by its Vilnius-based regional partner and system engineering company AUTEPRA, has been contracted to supply its process automation and fleet telematics Container Terminal Automation System (CTAS) to the Baltic Container Terminal Gdynia (BCT Gdynia).

Smart Container

BCT Gdynia has been handling containers since 1979, witnessing many profound changes in both its operations and the surrounding market environment over the last three decades or so. Most recently, the terminal operator invested in heavy-duty equipment, like ship-to-shore and yard cranes, and renovated the facility’s paving. However, BCT Gdynia also came to a conclusion that without proper soware hardware is oen nothing more than just tonnes of steel.

Data-driven performance
CTAS is comprised of a series of standard modules, based on a common technology platform, and focusing on automating the operational processes of a container terminal. BCT Gdynia takes advantage of several CTAS Process Automation elements, such as Container Inventory, to maintain inventory accuracy with the assistance of position detection systems to log all container movements across the terminal. This in turn reduces unnecessary shuffle and dig moves as well as the work of clerks searching for lost boxes. The project also involved the integration of CTAS Differential and Augmented (Inertial Navigation System) GPS-based position detection technology (comprising base stations, receivers, and programmable logic controller units) on the various types and makes of container handling equipment (CHE) that serve the storage yard, including 18 rubber-tyred (RTG) and two rail-mounted (RMG) gantry cranes, two straddle carriers, and three reachstackers. Both the reachstackers and shuttle carriers required Inertial Navigation Systems due to an unusually large overpass over the corridor of BCT Gdynia’s yard, where non-augmented GPS could lose accuracy during normal operations. Now all container movements are tracked by the CTAS, with historical information available for review, and live transaction data delivered to critical systems (like the terminal operating system; TOS).

Next, IDENTEC’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) system was installed to identify terminal tractors as they arrive at the CHEs, automatically promoting their job to the top of the list on the yard crane driver’s in-cab screen. This enables the driver (and the TOS, too) to know which terminal tractors are being served during each handover. This significantly reduces the physical interaction required by the driver with the in-cab screen to manage the job list, allowing the driver to focus on the job at hand; driving the CHE effciently. Prior to CTAS going live, one terminal operator was typically turning away up to four road trucks per shi‚ (potentially over 300 per month) due to misplaced boxes and inaccurate yard inventory. In the two months since CTAS went online, only two road trucks were turned back, and solely because of clerical errors. Apart from these, as part of the operator’s ongoing investment programme, AUTEPRA has deployed an automated gate system from VISY, new servers, and the CISCO Wireless Mesh network at BCT Gdynia. Together, all these technologies make it possible for BCT Gdynia to receive real-time data on the performance of its handling equipment and vehicles, including info on routing, utilisation rate, and drivers’ activities.

A must-have
“Automation is becoming a necessary part of strategy for container terminals, moving from what was once a competitive edge to a near-essential capability for terminals to stay baseline competitive in the current market. Without automation, whether it be incremental or fully autonomous, terminals are at risk of falling behind. CTAS o!ers modular automation, allowing a terminal’s level of automation to grow with it by simply adding more modules when the time is right. As an example BCT Gdynia could one day leverage Container Control, enabling CTAS to preventlost boxes before they happen by comparing the dispatch plan to events as they unfold and disabling twist lock actuation,” Nicholas Rapson, VP Professional Services, IDENTEC SOLUTIONS, said. Another add-on to the CTAS, the Automation and Management Suite, can deliver other opportunities for accelerating and streamlining container terminal operations by combining advanced software with the latest wireless technologies for remote identification, location, monitoring, and management.
“Container terminals are paying increasing attention to automation as the only way to increase handling effciency, speed, and safety,” Tomas Girdzevičius, CEO, AUTEPRA, added. “Systems such as terminal operating system and gate operating system have become a ‘must-have’ in most facilities. We believe that automated terminal asset management systems, such as CTAS, represent the next must-have technology which will deliver great benefits by providing terminals with complete visibility and tracking of each individual asset – crane, stacker, truck, and employee. Features such as CHE monitoring will help prevent unexpected failures, while driver access control will make operations safer,” Tomas further underlined. Around the world, automation systems – with their powerful, proven solutions to monitor and manage what is actually happening at the gate, in the yard, and on the quay – are helping the industry’s leading container terminal operators to improve productivity, effciency, and safety.