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Published: 7 February 2018
Remote RTG first for HIT
Hong Kong International Terminals has completed a project to implement remote controlled on 29 RTGs at its Container Terminal 9.
The project began in late 2013, after HIT awarded the contract to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machinery Technology Corporation (MHIMT). The project proved challenging, and towards the end of 2016 nine RTGs were operated by remote control.
At the end of January 2018 a ceremony was held at CT9 to mark the launch of the full fleet of 29 RTGs and an “automated container stacking system”.
“With the introduction of remote-controlled cranes and an automated container stacking system, each crane is now equipped with 58 monitoring cameras and sensors to ensure full precision and enhance industrial safety in its operation. The new remote operation system is integrated with a database at the terminal to work out where and how the containers can best be grounded or stacked. Cranes under the new system are 20% more efficient and productive than manual ones,” HIT noted.
HIT has operated automated RMGs previously, but with this project completed CT9 becomes “the first container terminal in Hong Kong where all yard cranes are operated remotely and the stacking of containers is fully automated at yard,” HIT noted. HIT also has a separate project underway to retrofit remote control to RMGs at terminals 4,5 and 6 at Kwai Chung.
The terminal operator also claims the project is the first time a terminal anywhere in the world has transitioned a fleet of RTGs to a “remote-controlled and automated stacking system while maintaining full operations”. The transition has certainly proved difficult elsewhere; PSA Sines in Portugal started work on a project with Kalmar in 2015, but as far as is known the project was not completed.
HIT’s Managing Director, Mr Gerry Yim, noted that the remote crane operations can bring four benefits, namely:
1. Improved working environment for crane operators
2. Increased industrial safety
3. Higher operational efficiency and productivity
4. Cleaner terminal environment by reducing carbon emissions
HIT expects the new office working environment will help make the job of crane operator more attractive to a wider range of people, with new and improved career pathways.
Mr Yim said that Hong Kong’s container terminal industry has faced many challenges over the past few years, including global recessions, labour shortage and the decrease in container throughput. However, he added that the transition to remote operations can enhance the overall operational efficiency and competitiveness of terminals in Hong Kong, which will maintain the city’s status as a major transshipment port.
(From left to right) Ms Angela Lee, Deputy Secretary for Transport and Housing; Hon Alice Mak, Legislative Councillor; and Ms Maisie Cheng, Director of Marine visit the Remote Operations Centre at Container Terminal 9 North.