APM Terminals is building a new container terminal at Maasvlakte II in the Port of Rotterdam opening in November 2014 that promises to set the pace for new terminal design and customer satisfaction levels. Executives announced the selection of container handling equipment for horizontal transport of containers that offers higher productivity levels and is the safest and most advanced equipment of its kind in the world.
“Our terminal design engineers worked with customers and studied ports worldwide and identified the area for quantum leap improvement is clearly how to better optimize container yard operations. Too often, quayside crane productivity is hampered by container yard activities not keeping pace. Managing thousands of containers that are discharged or loaded while a vessel is at the quay is an area we are targeting for higher productivity results for our customers. We have designed the terminal to serve the largest containerships in the world with higher productivity and service level consistency day-in, day-out while operating in a safe, environmentally-friendly way. Our estimates show we can deliver 25-50% productivity improvement results for our customers vs conventional terminal designs”, stated Frank Tazelaar, Managing Director for APM Terminals Maasvlakte II.
The terminal design concept is based on using ship-to-shore (STS) cranes that unload containers from the vessel and place them directly onto a fleet of Lift Automated Guided Vehicles (Lift AGVs). The Lift AGVs can carry two containers at a time and shuttle them at a speed of 22 kilometers per hour from the quay to the container yard using an onboard navigation system that follows a transponder grid. Once the Lift AGV arrives at its programmed destination it lifts the containers into a series of storage racks. Next, an Automated Rail-Mounted Gantry (ARMG) crane arrives to take the container from the rack to its next designated location which could be to the rail terminal, a trucker or stacking it somewhere else in the container yard. For the first phase of the Maasvlakte II terminal, the fleet will consist of 36 Lift AGVs in combination with 128 storage racks.
This ability to lift the container off the vehicle and place it into a storage rack system is the first of its kind in the world. In the past, AGVs could not perform this action. The Lift AGV consists of two lift platforms, which are able to load and unload containers independently of each other. APM Terminals Maasvlakte II is the first terminal in the world to be equipped with Lift AGVs. It is this simple transaction where productivity benefits will be gained. In short, a new process has been formed for managing container flows by having automated equipment transport - lift - and stack - containers.
After an extensive evaluation process, APM Terminals Maasvlakte II chose the Lift AGV based on the high levels of productivity and safety, while maintaining low costs of ownership. They are built in Germany by Gottwald Port Technology, a subsidiary of Demag Cranes who have a proven track record in the development of automated container handling equipment. The vendor selection of Automated Rail Mounted Gantry cranes and ship-to-shore cranes for Maasvlakte II is currently ongoing.
The vehicles, measuring 15 metres long and 3 metres wide, are powered by diesel-electric motors. These fuel-efficient and low-noise diesel engines meet the latest and strictest European exhaust gas standards. Design engineers are also studying the feasibility of making the Lift AGVs 100% electrical-powered, which will enable further reduction in emissions and noise levels.
Fleet management system
The equipment order also comprises the delivery of a dedicated fleet management system for Lift AGV’s. “The software optimizes the deployment of the fleet and the travel distance of the individual vehicles. The system will be seamlessly integrated with our equipment control and other operating systems, so that we can better manage our container yard for our customers”, added Tazelaar.
Container yards are historically a high traffic area that pose the highest risk for serious accidents and injuries due to the interaction of people with heavy machinery. The use of the fully automated Lift AGVs makes the container yard a safer place. The automated area is fenced off to protect dockworkers and truckers from entering. Additional safety systems ensure that the system is stopped when people enter the automated area.
Civil construction activities are planned to start in June 2012 at APM Terminals Maasvlakte II. The arrival of the first set of Lift AGV vehicles is planned for Q1 2013 after which thorough testing and integration with other container handling equipment will start.