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Published: 19 June 2014      

Semi-automation hits NY/NJ

Global Container Terminals (GCT) officially opened its new semi-automated container yard in Bayonne, New Jersey yesterday.

The terminal is a significant milestone as it is the first semi-automated terminal in the NY/NJ harbour. The new automated yard area features 10 yard gantry blocks with 20 Konecranes semi-automatic RMGs running at 45 degrees to the quay to maximise density. The RMGs feature the TMEIC crane control system and operate fully automatically over the stacks and waterside interchange, with remote control over road trucks. 

Global features a high level of process automation with 29 OCR portals (supplied by Nascent) and RFID readers to identify road trucks at the gates and at points around the terminal. The terminal is controlled by Navis N4 TOS with a real time position detection system in the 17 Terex Sprinter Carriers (or shuttle trucks as they are known in the US) from NOW Solutions. 

With a 274m berth extension and the new stacking area Global has increased its capacity from 500,000 to 1.1M lifts per year. GCT Chairman Paul Tellier said the expansion completes a $325M investment to make its New Jersey terminal “big ship ready”. With no air or water draft restrictions Global is ready today to handle the 12,000 to 13,000 vessels expected to be deployed on East Coast services in the future. 

The Global expansion was designed and managed by many of the key players involved in APMT’s Virginia Terminal, including Rich Ceci, (the Project Manager), Guy Buzzoni and Pete Giugliano. Tellier said the project was delivered “on time and on budget in spite of hurricane sandy, and this is quite and achievement”.

A more comprehensive look at the terminal and its technology will appear in the June issue of WorldCargo News. The opening ceremony, however, was more about the NY/ NJ port community seeing first hand a new style of terminal operation. A traditional ribbon cutting was replaced with a countdown where key members of the project team and port authority leaders pulled switches to activate the electrically powered ASCs. 

The cranes then performed a series of choreographed moves while the audience observed from a safe distance, or watched camera views of the operation on a big screen. The contrast between the the RTGs and top picks operating immediately adjacent was marked. While the RTGs trundled over their blocks and picked containers with varying speed and accuracy, the ASCs picked up and put down containers smoothly, silently, and significantly faster, with multiple cranes performing the same move in unison. 

Global believes its semi-automated RMGs plus the advantage of decoupled shuttle trucks serving the quay cranes will support sustained crane productivity of 40 moves per hour. More importantly it is confident of getting to that level quickly, without the extended period of fine tuning to achieve small incremental benefits that has characterised some automation projects. 

Ceci said the terminal recently underwent its first live operation, handling around 250 containers that were transhipped from mainline vessels to a barge. Initial waterside productivity exceeded expectations and on the landside the RMGs can serve 15 trucks per hour, he added. 

There are still some tensions over the extent to which automation has replaced longshore jobs but, as a port authority leader remarked, “this is the future.”

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