Automated Container Terminal Planning



Mark Sisson, PE, Senior Port Planner, AECOM, California, USA


What does an “automated” marine container terminal look like in 2016? Straddle carriers and RTGs can be automated but these are rarely used as the backbone for an automated terminal due to lack of density or poor performance from a rubber tyred interface compared with steel wheels running on a steel rail. Cantilever RMGs running parallel to the quay are a viable option in places with cheap labour (horizontal transport is still manual) or that have a lot of transshipment or have street trucks that frequently pull multiple trailers (and can’t back into an ASC buffer effectively). Container warehouses or terminals based on overhead structures may also be a viable option for very high density situations, but for most people an automated terminal implies the use of automated stacking cranes (ASCs). 
ASCs are portal frame RMGs that load from the end of the stack. After picking a container from the end, the ASC gantries with the container to or from the desired storage position in the container yard (CY). These ASC storage blocks are typically arranged perpendicular to the quay, but this is not an absolute requirement. The powerful advantage of ASCs over other terminal options is physical separation of gate and vessel traffic, which allows use of automated transport from the quay to the container yard…

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