Remote Operations: Towards a Digital Revolution in Container Terminals



Fredrik Johanson, ABB Ports


We are living interesting times at the dawn of the next industrial revolution: Industry 4.0. How can container terminals be prepared for the era of cyber physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services? Automation was the big thing of the previous industrial revolution. As the terminal industry is currently implementing automation technologies, increasingly equipped with remote operational capability, at the same time the industry is taking the first steps towards the fourth industrial revolution.

With automated and remotely supervised stacking cranes an industry standard, over recent years one of the major topics in container handling has been remote operations of STS cranes. Looking at the number of remotely operated STS cranes that have been ordered from an ABB perspective, in four years the industry went from zero to nearly 80 remotely operated STS cranes.

In parallel with the implementation of the new way of operating the cranes, the size and complexity of STS cranes has reached new heights following the need to adjust to larger ships and new shipping patterns. We have also seen automation being implemented on other terminal equipment, such as in horizontal transportation, along with crane automation. Consequently, different terminals are adopting different strategies in terms of the scope of automation and new technologies are being implemented simultaneously.

According to ABB’s philosophy, automation…

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