Opening up new opportunities for terminal automation



Peter Klein, Head of Marketing, Gottwald Port Technology GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany


There is no doubt that automation is playing an increasingly important role for container terminals. That’s why Gottwald Port Technology (Gottwald), known as a  pioneer in the field of automated port technology, has recently enhanced its line of automated products. The newly developed Automated Stacking Crane (ASC), employing the stack management software (ASC-MS) developed in-house, is, from several points of view, both a novel and a resilient automated container stacking crane. With the ASC the company is following up its success story with Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) seamlessly and is now said to be the only supplier to  actually be able to supply an automated system from A to Z with all the required hardware and software components. Designed to work hand-in-hand on quayside and landside with different kinds of transport vehicles such as AGVs, straddle carriers, road and terminal trucks, the new Gottwald ASC is addressing new terminals and the conversion and/or expansion of existing terminals.

Terminals aiming to incorporate an automated overall solution for transport and stacking can be served ideally by Gottwald AGVs and ASCs working hand in hand. Existing terminals wishing to continue with straddle carriers for horizontal transport can increase stack capacity and productivity with ASCs to hold their own in face of tough competition.

And thanks to the company’s simulation and emulation software, Gottwald is in a position to provide in advance a true-to-reality picture of future terminal  layouts.Particularly innovative is the rigid, vertically arranged guiding beam for perfect load control, safe operation, fast and accurate positioning even at wind forces of 10 Bft., eliminating the need for time-consuming rope adjustments and ensuring longer service life compared with other solutions.

Gottwald ASCs operate on an external power source. During operation, ASCs also make use of regenerative power, i.e. the energy produced, for example when the entire lifting system is lowered or the crane is decelerated on the craneway, is fed back into the system.  For the best possible transfer of forces to the rail track  system, the ASCs are equipped with two fixed legs, reducing horizontal forces significantly compared to concepts with a fixed and a hinged leg. An innovative brake system, based on solutions used in other Gottwald products, rounds off the multitude of innovative features.

Gottwald’s approach with the fix-leg and the classic rail track and sleeper system offers decisive advantages for terminal operators in terms of investment costs for the infrastructure, thus naturally for the entire systems and also maintenance.

Setting new standards

At Antwerp Gateway, the ASCs are used for quay-to-stack and stack-to-quay transport in fully automatic mode, working hand in hand with straddle carriers. The  interplay functions smoothly. Thanks to the sophisticated Gottwald safety technology, straddle carriers and ASCs can work in the same area at the same time. Consequently, safety authorities have consented to allow the simultaneous operation of both types of machines within the interchange zones.

On the landside, the ASCs are used for transport from and to stack in ‘camera software based’ semi-automatic mode, working hand in hand with road trucks. Gottwald, as system supplier, delivers a CE Certificate for the complete module, including both land- and waterside transfer zones.

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