Icy corner-castings: a solution to the problem



Fritz Merk, Sort + Store GmbH, Essenbach, Germany


Wintertime – no grounds for rejoicing for terminal operators

The operation of ter minals exposed to extreme weather conditions in winter may encounter considerable obstructions. Icy runways, stiff drive elements and other forces such as cold, precipitation and wind do not make handling processes any easier when subject to time pressure.

The biggest obstruction above all though comes from the unprotected top layers of container stacks which are exposed to the weather; as a result the corner-castings of such containers are subject to becoming blocked by snow or ice. The effects on cornercastings blocked in this manner become all the more apparent the higher the degree of automation at the terminal:

Where an experienced stacker crane, straddle carrier or reach stacker operator may possibly manage to drive the twistlocks into the cornercastings by bringing down the spreader ‘firmly,’ automated stacker cranes or unmanned straddle carriers will inevitably experience a breakdown. The resulting delays are considerable and may mean dramatic losses for the terminal operator.

During the winter 2005/2006 German seaports repeatedly experienced such extreme situations and the corresponding consequences. In the highly automated  Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) of the German HHLA the search for a solution was under way that would allow fast and reliable clearing of iced corner-castings on container stacks. Having been in the spotlight plenty of times before with the provision of interesting customised solutions, SORT + STORE were commissioned to
develop a suitable method.

The ICF clears ice from corner-castings

Preliminary investigations and field experiments resulted in a preference for a mechanical as opposed to a thermal solution. Reasonable times for the de-icing  process could only be achieved mechanically. In addition, this allowed the development of a device that draws the necessary force exclusively from the torque of the spreader twistlock – a speciality of SORT + STORE engineers that is appreciated by all operation managers as it omitsthe unloved electrical or hydraulic connection between spreader and terminal equipment.

The first scraper with the type designation ICF was supplied at the end of 2006. Due to the mild winter in 2006/2007 its performance up-to-now could only be  established under lab conditions. However, the results leave no doubt that the ICF is able to clear corner-castings quickly and reliably.

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