Automation is the driving force behind improved and efficient port operations – and data is the fuel.
As the pace of change in crane and stacking carrier continues unbounded, ports and terminals have begun to embrace automotive technologies such as remote-controlled and self-driving equipment.
This also creates a need to collect this data and harness it in a way that makes a port or terminal more efficient and capable of handling ever-increasing traffic.
This was certainly the case with TraPac, a terminal operator which has its flagship operations in the Port of Los Angeles.
In 2017 it implemented the OSIsoft PI System to better analyze and manage its data that its technology generates, and this has led to operations and being able to better maintain its machines.
— OSIsoft (@OSIsoft) November 20, 2018
For port operators, such as TraPac, success is defined by a) the traffic of containers moved through the port and b) how long it takes for a single container to travel from source and destination.
With OSIsoft on board, and by utilizing the PI System, TraPac was able to zero in on inefficiencies in its port operations, such as delays in crane movement. Consequently, TraPac was able to speed up its cycle time by 10%, allowing it to move more containers in a shorter space of time.
Furthermore, TraPac could also take better care of its equipment, including its self-driving straddle carriers.
In the past, it had to rely on scheduled maintenance check every 1000 hours to prevent costly downtime – checks which were only happening 20% of the time.
Before implementing the PI System, data collecting was done manually, a system which was slow and vulnerable to human error.
Now its machines are being maintained as they should be 100% of the time and TraPac can collect data automatically, which saves time and manpower.
Speaking about the impact of the PI System on the operator’s ability to track and improve operations, Mark Jensen, TraPac’s assistant vice president of equipment and facility maintenance said this: “With the transition towards using PI to collect that data, not only do we save manpower in manually collecting readings, but the accuracy and the repeatability of those readings is significantly improved.”
As well as that, the PI System was able to hone in and fix other, previously unexplained operational deficiencies. A big example was the issue surrounding a rail-mounted gantry crane that had suddenly suffered an alarming drop in productivity.
It was only when the PI System was utilized that the problem was traced to a single bent flipper on the spreader that locks the crane onto a container.
“Knowing that we were having this issue with precisely landing on top of the container inspired us to start looking a little bit more closely,” Jensen says. “It was really helpful in getting us to the root cause of that issue.”
TraPac’s experiment with the PI System shows just how powerful data can be, and how utilizing it in the right way can lead to improved throughput, higher safety standards and greater productivity.