Process control and artificial vision technology specialist Orbita Ingenieria launched a new optical character recognition (OCR) system to automate freight container identification and damage inspection during vessel loading and unloading at port terminals.
The Orbita CraneOCR system provides real-time ISO code recognition for 20ft, 40ft, 45ft and twin-20ft containers as they are moved to and from multiple lanes under and behind ship-to-shore (STS) gantry cranes. The company says that acquiring OCR data ‘on the fly’ in this way allows terminal operators to automate container identification on the quayside with minimal infrastructure – as few as four cameras are required – and no impact on STS crane cycle times. In-motion data capture is made possible by the use of the latest pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) cameras, combined with advanced software algorithms to locate and follow the container in movement. CraneOCR works at accuracy levels of 95% and above, Orbita said.
As well as allowing users to identify container numbers, CraneOCR integrates with STS crane programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to record other key information such as container size and weight, plus spreader and twistlock position. The system also captures still images and videos for damage inspection and control. Additional functions, including automatic detection of door direction, are planned for the near future.
Due to be officially unveiled at the TOC Europe 2013 exhibition later this month, CraneOCR joins Orbita’s GateSuite family of products for the automation of port and terminal access operations. The new system communicates through Orbita’s GateOS operating system, integrating with third-party terminal operating systems (TOS) and other business software using standard interfaces such as XML and Web Services to provide 100% remote handling of manifest validations, exceptions and events. Users can also view images, videos and performance reports in the Orbita GateViewer software, allowing land gate and sea gate statistics to be collated for advanced management analysis.
Just as with the use of OCR technology to automate container land gate operations, adoption of crane OCR is gathering pace as a means for terminal operators to improve the accuracy, speed and safety of the vessel handling process. Automating container identification at the quayside eliminates human data entry errors, removes ground personnel from the hazardous berth area and ensures robust integration of data into TOS and other control systems.
“With the launch of CraneOCR, we close the circle by providing integrated tracking of container movements both at the land and sea gates,” said Francisco Grau Cavanillas, Account Manager Ports and Terminals at Orbita. “The system is now working successfully in live operational tests at Valencia, the Mediterranean’s largest container port, and we’re gathering critical data every day to continuously refine the product. Now, our offer to terminals is more powerful in terms of container process control, along with other engineering services that we can provide.”