HHLA, Fraunhofer present automation project

HHLA, Fraunhofer present automation project at conference

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) and the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services (CML) have presented the IHATEC project “Pin-Handling-mR” at a conference of the German Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport (BMDV) in Karlsruhe.

The project focuses on how the previously manual repositioning of the locking pins of container wagons at terminals can be taken over by robots.

The conference, titled “New Technologies and Test Fields for Waterways and Ports”, took place on 5-6 October.

The team presented solutions to advance the automation of so-called pin handling in rail handling through mobile robotics.

READ: DP World unveils remote pinning station at Southampton hub

The overall goal is to develop an autonomous mobile robotics system that places the various pins on container wagons according to the loading plan.

Currently, these pins still need to be manually operated before trains can be loaded, reported HHLA. The project team is therefore currently developing an autonomous prototype of a mobile robot, which, in the next step, will be tested under real conditions.

Numerous new technologies are being used in the project, for example computer vision: on the basis of images taken of different pins.

Other technologies take over the localisation of the robot or ensure that it is integrated into the control centre system via an interface. In this way, pin handling can run autonomously, and the mission can be monitored or controlled by terminal employees.

The development is intended not only to optimise the work processes at the port and rail terminals in order to reduce transport costs, but also to improve the working environment and, especially, occupational safety for employees, reported HHLA.

READ: Hundreds protest against HHLA/MSC ‘sell-out’

HHLA is taking on the role of the so-called network coordinator and is accompanying the project with its subsidiaries Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT), HHLA Sky, Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC) and Metrans.

Fraunhofer CML is in charge of the conception and development of the mobile robotics system in association with other supporting partners.

The IHATEC project is funded by the BMDV with the aim of advancing innovations in port technologies in the field of autonomous systems and automated technologies.

The expected optimisation of handling at the terminals is hoped to lead to cost optimisation and increased occupational safety in hinterland traffic. This could further strengthen the competitiveness of rail container handling in the Port of Hamburg.

READ: Port of Hamburg wins best seaport in Europe award

In September, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) announced that it plans to purchase around 50 per cent of HHLA.

More recently, COSCO SHIPPING Taurus was reported to be the first vessel to use shore power during a successful ship integration test at the HHLA Container Terminal Tollerort in Hamburg, Germany.

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