Insight
China-built automated terminals ascend global arena
Last Updated: 2016-07-05 16:42 | CE.cn
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By Qi Hui

In April, Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) under China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) held a delivery ceremony to celebrate the commercial operation of the automated Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) in California in the United States. The handover of LBCT marked that the first fully automated container terminal in North America has successfully gone into service. A person from ZPMC said that the equipment delivered this time is the world's most advanced automated port machinery equipment that can significantly improves the efficiency of terminal operations and effectively saves energy and reduces emission. In recent years, automatic terminal equipment system of ZPMC is gradually putting into use and has occupied the major share of the market and successfully entered into the markets of Europe and the United States.

Domestic system: from catching up to leading

Early this year, Xiamen Ocean Gate automated terminal ushered in the first trunk container ship - COSCO Houston. Different from the mussy loading and unloading scene in the past, this time during the loading and unloading, the terminal operating system has connected seamlessly with the equipment management and control system, so that all tasks and works have been completed on time. This marks that the world first fourth-generation automated container terminal handling system developed by ZPMC independently has withstood the test of real application with its superior performance.

Automated container terminal was firstly appeared in Europe. At the end of last century, ZPMC started to pay attention and researched on automated container terminal equipment. In 2000, ZPMC developed the prototype of first-generation automated guided vehicle (AGV). After that it provided the stand-alone automation equipment to multiple terminals in Europe, the United States, South Korea and other countries and regions in succession. In 2007, ZPMC carried out independent research and development and built the world's first demonstration line of solid track type automated terminal which was characterized by low carbon and clean, safe and efficient, energy-saving and environment friendly in Changxing Island base of Shanghai.

In recent years, ZPMC started the R&D on automatic terminal loading and unloading system. With in-depth understanding of terminal operations and solid research skills, ZPMC developed the world first safe, efficient, environmentally friendly and low cost fourth-generation automated terminal based on foreign three generations of terminal automation system, namely COSCO Xiamen Ocean Gate automated terminal which became the first demonstration project of ZPMC.

Xiamen Ocean Gate fully automated terminal handling system is controlled by the computer in the central control room that truly realizes the yard unmanned operation. It not only reduces the labor cost of terminal, but also improves the level of safety operations and capacity. As the first unmanned terminal in China, it has solved the problems like big noise, excessive emissions and environmental pollution. By calculation, compared with the traditional terminal, the energy saving of fully automated terminal driven by electricity will be more than 25 percent and the reduction of carbon emissions will be more than 16 percent.

Competitiveness enhanced by technological innovation

Automated container terminal system is mainly composed of quay crane, rail crane, horizontal transport system and terminal equipment control and management system, which requires a high level of technology. In order to enhance the competitiveness, ZPMC has innovated thinking, technology and system and laid its leader position in the field of automated container terminal system.

Innovative thinking can provide quality solutions. To reduce the transformation cost of terminal, project engineers of ZPMC broke the routine to use continuously the original infrastructure layout by adjusting measures to local conditions, pioneered the new model of upgrading existing wharf to an automated terminal. It has a good meaning of demonstration and guidance for upgrading the vertical arranged tire crane yard which is widely used in China nowadays.

Innovative technology can achieve a number of the world's firsts. All of the 18 AGVs provided by ZPMC to Xiamen Ocean Gate automated terminal use lithium battery as the driving force, so as to achieve pollution-free and zero emission. At the same time, ZPMC developed the new charging scheme that can solve the charging problem of AGVs without affecting their operating efficiency. In the project of Shanghai Yangshan Port fully automatic terminal, the world's first double box automatic track crane will be used that can lift two containers once thus double the efficiency.

Innovative system can achieve remote intelligent scheduling. The intelligent scheduling and control system of automated terminal developed independently by ZPMC can complete intelligently the container storage plan and ship stowage scheduling according to the turnover information of container, and conduct the intelligent and efficient management and scheduling of equipment to realize the automatic operation of container handling process. With strong expandability and upgradability, the software system has been used in the project of Xiamen Ocean Gate automated container terminal and will be applied to the project of Qingdao port fully automated terminal.

Very broad development prospect

At present, the perfervid competition between world ports, the rising cost of shipping and handling, as well as the standard upgrading of environmental protection and energy efficiency, all have put forward higher requirements to the development of the port. The technology development around the large scale of ships, energy saving and environmental protection and automation has become the trend of the development of port machinery equipment.

Compared with traditional wharf, automated container terminal has the advantages of high technology content, safe and reliable operation, and so on. ZPMC has applied a series of new technologies independently developed to the automated port terminal system. They have independently developed 3E-grade quay crane with super high efficiency after in-depth research and development of the terminal loading and unloading conditions and according to the market trends. It is widely welcomed after being launched onto the market.

The construction of fully automated terminal is hot in foreign countries and a number of domestic conventional terminals and new terminals are also considering to use automated container terminals when renovation and construction. The automation of container terminal has become the trend.

Experts said that with the increasingly prominent demand for old terminals upgrading and the advantages of automated terminal's energy saving, environmental protection, high efficiency and safety and low cost being obvious, the development of automated container terminal will see its spring. At the same time, the automation level of China's container terminal will be greatly improved and domestic automated terminal system will further open up a broad market space.

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