Cutting ties with conventional thinking



Cavotec MSL, Lugano, Switzerland


MoorMaster™ is a vacuum-based automated mooring technology that eliminates the need for conventional mooring lines. Remote controlled vacuum pads recessed in or mounted on the quayside can moor and release vessels in seconds. The system offers improved safety, infrastructure savings, improved turnaround times and reductions in emissions. “MoorMaster entirely changes everything the industry has previously understood about mooring. We’ve discovered characteristics of the technology, even in the past couple of years, that represent an entirely new paradigm – it’s that different,” says Mike Howie, Cavotec MoorMaster Product Manager.

Technological and safety overview

MoorMaster dramatically reduces vessel movement caused by the met-ocean conditions. Large pads adhere to vessels’ hulls with hydraulic triple axis arms, able to move in three planes simultaneously.

Conventional moor ing lines store energy from vesse movement, energy that can cause ropes to snap – posing a severe threat to ship and shore personnel. MoorMaster, on the other hand, does not store energy under any circumstances; it prevents this build up in energy.

“You don’t have to worry about the additional strength required to overcome vessel inertia once mooring ropes are already under severe tension due to vessel motion: MoorMaster doesn’t allow ships to start moving in the first place,” explains Howie. The system continuously compensates vessel motion and automatically makes adjustments to vessel position. The technology constantly provides information on system status, and alerts users to changing conditions and potential or developing problems. It also requires a modest, but constant supply of electricity to operate the system. Cavotec encourages ports to install back-up generator systems where the power supply is unreliable.

Efficiency benefits

With mooring times reduced from up to an hour to a matter of seconds, MoorMaster can create substantial reductions in vessel turn-around times.

“With MoorMaster, one person does what it takes several to do with conventional mooring. And it cuts mooring times to around 30 seconds from what tends to be anything up to an hour with traditional techniques,” explains Howie. One individual operates MoorMaster from either the bridge wing or the quayside. The technology can also prevent damage to vessels and the quayside, as operators are able to preset the distance at which ships are positioned from the quay.

Infrastructure considerations

New terminals tend to require dredging and the construction of a breakwater, representing a significant capital investment. While deep-water berths can reduce the need for dredging, breakwater construction becomes even more capital intensive. Such investment is not always required when using MoorMaster: vessels using the system only need the berth space along the length of the ship as required for cargo operations, so there is no need for mooring dolphins or berth extensions. This saves dredging, berth length and the entire (in many cases) breakwater construction. “For a small increase in the amount of equipment [MoorMaster] on the berth, port operators can make substantial reductions in their capital expenditure,” says Howie.

Environmental impact

The system can also have a positive effect on air quality in ports. As vessels using MoorMaster moor that much more quickly than by conventional means, they shut down their engines sooner and tugs are required for shorter periods. This also reduces noise pollution.
Case studies
Different variants of the MoorMaster technology have performed thousands of successful mooring operations at ports around the world in the past twelve years. Cavotec has adapted MoorMaster for a variety of applications, including container ports; Ro-Ro ferries, and for bulk handling. The first hydrocarbon berth will be operational in early 2011.

Bulk handling

In the most recent development for MoorMaster, eight units are to be installed for Hammersley Iron Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto at the Port of Dampier, Western Australia. The units will serve the Dampier Fuel Wharf, located on the eastern end of the Parker Point ore wharf. The MM200D units at Dampier will be rail-mounted and integrated into the dolphin construction. Each unit will have a capacity of 20 tonnes, and will be able to complete vessel mooring in less than 30 seconds and disengage in less than 10 seconds.

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