As ships grow bigger & cranes taller, a key technology in the handling of shipborne containers is the remote handling of STS cranes.
For a crane operator sitting in a small crane cabin, far above ground and a long way from the containers, the ability to operate the crane with speed, precision and consistency is almost impossible. It is also physically demanding, frequently causing motion sickness and stress to the back and neck, which often leads to absenteeism.
In July this year, the first of 20 vessels in the new Maersk Triple-E class will enter service, each with a capacity to carry about 18,000 TEUs. Four hundred meters long and 50 meters wide, the Triple-E is a giant in every respect. It will require 5-7 of the tallest ship-to-shore(STS) cranes on the planet to load and unload these vessels at full capacity, each one capable of lifting a container 52 meters in the air and 20 meters below the quayside – a total lifting height of 72 meters.
ABB is the first company in the world to develop a solution that enables the crane operators to leave the stressful confines of the cabin and operate the crane remotely from a specially designed control room that can be situated anywhere in the terminal.
The key to this breakthrough are the smart automation features in ABB’s crane systems. These features run the loading and unloading process automatically, under the supervision of crane operators located in a remote control room. This minimizes loading and unloading cycle times by bringing consistency - in speed, efficiency and precision - to crane operations. And, it provides the operators with the best and most ergonomic working environment possible.
ABB piloted the world’s first remotely controlled STS crane in Panama in December 2010. Shortly after in 2012, ABB received three orders from the largest container terminals in Europe and the Middle East – from two terminals at the Maasvlakte 2 extension at the Port of Rotterdam, and from the new Jebel Ali T3 container terminal in Dubai.
All the STS cranes at both Maasvlakte 2 and Jebel Ali T3 terminals will be equipped with ABB remotely operated crane systems, a total of 41 cranes that will start production in 2014. This represents 20 percent of the STS market in 2012 – a remarkable achievement in such a short time and strong confirmation of customer acceptance of the new ABB technology.
A 51/2 minute movie showing ABB's shore-to-ship crane automation is available here.