Managing the 4 vital points of electrical infrastructure

When planning and designing the electrical infrastructure of the terminal, terminal operator needs to consider vital points related to knowledge, cost, interfaces and time. Although each of these can have a significant impact on the terminal performance if not managed correctly, each of them can be efficiently mitigated. Here’s how:

1. Knowledge – find the right partner

Electrical infrastructure of a modern container terminal has become complex with the increased number of power consumers in the facility.  This includes all types of cranes, horizontal transportation and other electrically powered terminal vehicles. The power distribution system needed to “feed” all these consumers can be compared to the one an industrial plants for instance a petrochemical plant. Thus, designing and building electrical infrastructure for container terminals requires special competence on power distribution systems and connecting the facility to the network of the local power utility.

2.  Cost – stay in control

The cost of the electrical infrastructure is significant – up to 10 % of the total terminal investment. Once in operation, energy costs can total up to 10% of the terminal’s operational expenses.

These costs can be controlled by executing a modern and professional design of the electrical infrastructure that is optimized for the power requirements of the planned handling capacity and equipment. This includes, for instance, a design that leverages the right type and size of its main components (such as transformers) for the power distribution system. Once in operation, the energy costs can be easily controlled by deploying power management solution.

3. Interfaces – invest in design

The power distribution system needs to interface with numerous systems or “nodes” when transporting power to the various consumers of power in a container terminal. Each of these nodes can cause issues and delay project execution.

The key in managing this risk lies in precise interface definition between all nodes. This should be an integral part of the terminal’s electrical infrastructure design and, at minimum for the systems outlined below, should be defined and integrated into the power distribution system:

  • Crane electrical system
  • Reefer control system
  • Building and gate systems
  • Terminal lighting system
  • Grid connection and utility grid protection schemes

One of the most demanding interfaces to define is the grid connection as it requires substantial understanding of power systems at national, regional and local levels. Designing a power distribution system that complies with the requirements of the local utility in terms of protection schemes, hardware, harmonics and power fluctuation calls for special competence that an experienced partner can support with.

4. Time – efficient project execution

Obtaining approvals related to connecting the container terminal in the local utility’s power system can take significant amount of time, comparable to the time required for civil works. To avoid severe delays in project execution, an accurate design for the electrical infrastructure matching the planned operating scenario should be in place as early as possible.

Efficient project execution also requires knowledge on power systems and on legal and utility specific requirement, all of which call for knowledgeable partner with expertise at a local level.

The electrical infrastructure is typically installed after the civil works have been completed and before the commissioning of the equipment and IT systems is commenced. For efficient project execution we recommend following these steps:

  1. Contact a partner specialized in modern electrical infrastructure and concepts
  2. Plan the location and power requirements of the equipment, IT infrastructure and reefer racks simultaneously with the civil works planning
  3. Create a holistic design for the entire electrical infrastructure
  4. Apply for grid connection from the local power utility simultaneously with the civil works design
  5. Create a design for the ducts – manholes – earthing
  6. Build civil works and electrical infrastructure simultaneously
  7. Install the electrical infrastructure

ABB, with its unique combination of deep domain knowledge of container terminal automation and power distribution systems can help terminal operators to build cost-efficient and reliable electrical infrastructure that are ‘right-sized” to fit its needs. ABB has long and vast experience on designing and building power distribution systems for industrial plants, and connecting them to utility networks. We have already delivered, and are, delivering terminal electrification to several container handling facilities in different parts of the world.  Contact us for more information.

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