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Remote crane operations

Today, remote crane operation and exception handling are an integral part of automation. This improves safety, working environment and overall operator productivity in container terminals.

Automation is the basis for efficient remote crane operation. With most of the crane cycle handled automatically, the crane operator’s main task is to supervise the process and take action only when required.

Operators located in a control room supervise the crane motion via onboard cameras and Remote Control Station. This is very useful especially in case of taller STS cranes where the abilities of human eyes become a limitation due to the physical distance between the cabin and the target. Combined with access to information provided by the automation system, the camera views help to improve the overall operator performance.

Remote crane operation allows humans to be separated from big machines and moved from a dangerous and harsh working environment to the safety and comfort of a control room. Now the crane can run faster and ramp times and cycle times become shorter. This reduces the time needed for discharging and loading the ships, and prevents operators’ health problems caused by poor working environment.

ABB’s remote operation solution:

  • Allows all types of container handling cranes be operated from one control room
  • Separates humans from big machines
  • Provides safer, healthier and more collaborative working environment for crane operators
  • Provides better views via on-board cameras than what is possible from the cabin in situations like landing containers on a ship/vehicle or handling hatch covers close to ground
  • Allows the crane to run faster with shorter cycle and ramp times
  • Enables seamless operation without any loss of time at shift changes/breaks

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Automating for the future

At Hutchison Ports Stockholm in Norvik, south of the Swedish capital, the quay operations are carried out by two of the world’s biggest quay cranes featuring automation and remote-control technology that provides optimal efficiency for customers. The remote operations improve overall operator performance primarily through extending visibility with multiple camera views. As container ships have become bigger so have ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, and especially on larger cranes the ability of the human eye is limited by the physical distance between the cabin and the target.

Remote operations also serve to improve the working environment for crane operators by physically removing them off the giant machines into the safety and comfort of a control room. The control room also enables a more versatile workplace.

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