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Global cargo volumes have doubled in the last twenty years, requiring many of the world’s ports and container terminals to expand, upgrade, widen and deepen. The surge in demand for cargo and globalization, in general, is also bringing about the need not just to modify existing sites, but also to build brand new ports in geographically strategic areas. DP World’s recently completed greenfield container port in Yarimca, Turkey – with eighteen RTG (Rubber Tired Gantry) cranes supplied by Konecranes – is a primary example.

Ports are to containers and goods as airports are to people and their luggage: the focal points for millions of daily crossings, transactions and deliveries. Airport arrival and baggage services are becoming more automated, and so are container ports, which now tend to feature state-of-the-art traffic control towers, management nerve centers tracking hundreds of ships, thousands of containers, container cranes and horizontal transports. Also essential to the ports are the high-tech, manned (or automated) container cranes doing the stacking work in the container yard.

Turkey’s newest deep-sea container terminal is DP World Yarimca, located in the automotive and manufacturing hub of Izmit in the country’s northwestern region. The site will have a 1.3M TEU (twenty-foot equivalent container units) capacity when at full strength, three berths big enough to accommodate the latest container megaships, a water depth of 16m at the quayside. The area it occupies covers 480,000 square meters, the equivalent of approximately 67 football fields.

DP World is currently the third largest port operator in the world, with a portfolio of more than 65 container terminals across six continents. With an ambitious blueprint of future development and expansion, the company is expected to raise its global capacity to more than 100 million TEUs by 2020. The December 2015 opening of Yarimca marked an important step towards achieving that goal.

From negotiation to implementation

“It was an interesting project because it has a lot of automation. It’s a very advanced RTG terminal in that sense, with lots of special features in addition to the automation,” states Ville Kosonen, Project Manager, RTG Cranes, Konecranes.

“It was a very important deal for us,” adds Antoine Bosquet, Sales Director, Port Cranes, Region IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa), Konecranes. “DP World is one of the biggest port operators globally. Over the years we have built up a good relationship with them and finally we managed to get this project, which was a critical one for them. It was their first greenfield electric RTG project.” A greenfield is an undeveloped tract of land that is a potential site for industrial development, while electric RTG refers to a rubber tired gantry crane that is driven by electrical power from the grid.

Automation technology at work

The eighteen cranes delivered to the Yarimca site are equipped with an array of automation features that are set to boost the productivity of manned RTG operations in the container yard. Notable ones include Auto-steering, Auto-truck Guiding, Auto-positioning, Auto-TOS reporting, Truck-lift Prevention, Stack Collision Prevention and Real-time RTG Positioning. DP World ordered the cranes with a vision of giving its drivers maximum advantages in both efficiency and safety.

The accurate measurement of RTG position and heading in real-time is the starting point for many automated functionalities. With this data online, the positions of the RTGs can be tracked precisely. Once the location information is recorded, it is used by other automation features, which fully or partially automate crane motions such as gantry travel and trolley travel. This enables the automation of the work sequence to the desired degree, either to assist manned RTG operations or to carry out autonomous work cycles without human intervention. Tracking all the container moves in the terminal, and reporting them to the terminal operating system (TOS), is a prerequisite for high container inventory accuracy.

Auto-steering is a key performance-improving feature of the RTGs at DP World Yarimca. It uses two GPS antennas, located at two corners of the RTG, to deliver accurate crane position and heading measurements in real time. Auto-steering is the cornerstone for many automation features because it gives vital positioning and heading information. It also provides pre-defined drive lanes for the RTG, and guides the gantry so it stays on the defined drive lane. RTG operators call this “driving on virtual rails” since it’s very similar to driving an RMG (rail mounted gantry) crane. This allows the operator to focus his concentration on container handling in the yard.

Auto-positioning, meanwhile, uses the target information to allow the crane to drive at full speed to the target slot, and automatically decelerate the crane to an accurate stop. Once again, the operator can then focus on the operating environment.

In certain situations, it could be difficult to see certain things from the RTG cabin. For example, in some circumstances, when a truck is being loaded or unloaded, it could be difficult to see if the truck is also being lifted along with the container, or when a lifted container is being moved too close to the container stack. To assist in preventing such dangerous situations, the Truck Lift Prevention and Stack Collision Prevention features have been included in the DP World Yarimca RTGs.

Finally, Konecranes has included Auto-truck Guiding in the DP World Yarimca RTGs. This feature speeds up truck servicing and provides carwash-style signaling that guides trucks accurately into position under the RTG.

All systems are go

An increasing number of Konecranes RTG customers are taking advantage of automation technology to increase the productivity and safety of their manned-yard operations. For DP World, environmental factors came into play as well.

“These RTGs are gentle on the environment in terms of dramatically reduced emissions and noise in comparison to diesel-powered RTGs,” says Bosquet. “Especially in places where container terminals are located next to cities or residential areas – like at Yarimca – the cranes must be quiet and electrically powered.”

DP World’s newest deep-sea container terminal is open for business.  Yarimca became fully operational with the advanced RTGs supplied by Konecranes in December 2015, with the arrival of the first container ship, the 224m long Maersk Bulan. A second vessel came not long after, the mighty Georg Maersk. At 367m long and 43m wide, this container megaship was one of the biggest ever to sail into Turkish waters.

 

Text: Dan Rider
Photos: DP World