Sunday, 17 December 2017

Modularity - the key to optimizing and automating terminal operations

Alex Duca

Alex Duca

Director, Head of Design and Automation at APM Terminals

In my last blog, from October 27, I explained how the best way for terminal operators to meet customer demands for efficient, safer, loading and unloading in the future is to introduce functional modularity and automation retrofitting. Once each logical module in a terminal has been identified, it can be optimized for service levels. Inter-module optimization can also be accomplished. The path to automation is made easier and standardized modules can be re-used elsewhere.
It’s all very well to talk about modularity in theory but how does it work when applied to a bustling real-world terminal operation? Fortunately, APM Terminals has already extensive successful design modularity and automation retrofitting experience – for example, in Tangiers – that can be used to illustrate how to approach modularity.

Tangiers, Morocco 2

APM Terminals MedPort Tangier (TM2) is a greenfield container terminal adjacent to APM Terminals Tangier (TM1), where APM Terminals already has an operating facility. TM2 will be developed in several phases up to a final capacity of 5.6 million TEU. Vessels will be serviced by remotely controlled double-trolley ship-to-shore (DSTS) cranes, automated rail-mounted gantry (ARMG) cranes in the container yard stacks and automated straddle carriers (SC's) with one-over-one stacking capacity as horizontal transport (HT) between the ship to shore cranes and rail mounted gantry cranes.
What’s interesting here…is that we will automate in a phased approach to ensure performance and a higher success rate for our liner customers from the outset. So, the straddle carriers will be manually operated at start-up and converted to full automation within a few years when the situation is right. We have designed the new terminal to be “full-automation ready” meaning the initial infrastructure and terminal operation system (TOS) is designed to make automation phase-in efforts easier. Equally important, for safety reasons, the TM2 terminal layout clearly separates people and machines.

Modularity in TM2

A fundamental job in the TM2 modularity and automation retrofitting was to define the modules and their interfaces to achieve efficiency and reliability. These were defined on the basis of critical operation interfaces called transfer points, see fig 1.
An example of a transfer point is the container terminal “intelligent yard block”, which decouples the landside and waterside operations, enabling each to be individually optimized. Similarly, decoupling is applied to equipment transfer points - the straddle carrier can operate independently of the other modules enabling each module to achieve its productivity potential and lessen the number of straddle carriers needed and avoiding traffic congestion.
Fig 1 - Areas of modularity and the operational cargo flows within the terminal.
Such decoupling of operations segments the logistic processes, creates repetition of movements, and enables optimization and automation. The discussion above explains the practical application of the broad principles of design modularity and automation retrofitting.
In my next blog, I will take these general modularity principles and see how they play out in detail by drilling down into one of the important functions in the TM2 terminal – horizontal transport (HT).
HT is the “decoupling agent” in the TM2 overall terminal logistic flows and connects all the functional blocks and by looking - for example, at how the SC's are configured to make migration from the initial manned operation to “fully automatic mode” in TM2 - much can be learned about modularity, decoupled system operation and automation retrofitting.

More from Alex Duca

PRESIDENT CLEVELAND IMO 9526502 16/12/2017, Port of Felixstowe, England.

If you look closely at the *hand-painted* name on the bows, you can see it is a bit wobbly. The vessel ordered up new lettering to be applied (by some kind of stencil, I assume- like the name on the stern) at a previous port, but when the stencilled letters arrived and the crew began to apply them on the bows, they were too big and would not fit, due to the long length of the ship's new name. Plan B was implemented - get the crew to hand paint the name. It took two full days for them to do it. Info from the C/O.

IMO 9526502

16/12/2017, Port of Felixstowe, England.

Built in 2012 by Jiangsu Rongcheng, Rugao, China (1101)
75,015 g.t., 84,660 dwt., & 6,552 teu, as:
'HS Paris' to 23/10/2017 and
'President Cleveland' since.

Changed ownership in October this year from (ultimately) a German bank to Neptune Orient LInes of Singapore but remaining on CMA CGM Charter.
Vessel had a recent run of bad luck including a devastating main engine, very high pressure (800 Bar) fuel oil leak while at full sea speed on 22/10/217 - the **day* before the vessel was sold and to be inspected by the new owners. Large amounts of fuel was 'sprayed' around the engine room from the upper exhaust valve platform, and luckily did not catch fire, but which required a huge clean up.

CMA CGM Charter and deployed on their 'NCLEVANT' service - i.e. NW Europe to Eastern Mediterranean.

Port rotation: Felixstowe –Antwerp – Hamburg – Tangier Med - Marsaxlokk – Alexandria – Beirut – Iskenderun – Mersin – Port Said E – Salerno – Algeciras – Felixstowe.

Nigerian pirates attack container ship VIDEO

Crew member of a Singapore-flagged container ship made a video of pirates attack on Dec 7 south of Nigerian port Onne, Bight of Bonny, Gulf of Guinea. Name of the ship wasn’t revealed. The ship thwarted attack thanks to barbed wire fencing, speed and maneuvering. At one moment, 4 signal rockets were fired in the direction of pirates boat. Two-engines boat was carrying 8 pirates, armed with AK 47 assault rifles, and a ladder with a hook. Pirates gave up and turned away after about an hour’s chase.