Remotely controlled quay cranes: safer and more productive



Clara Holmgren, Product Manager, ABB Crane Systems, Sweden


The world’s first remotely operated ship-to-shore crane is now in commercial operation. The crane is operated from a remote control station, similar to a control station for automatic stacking cranes (ASC). The control station is located in a control room in the terminal office area. The remote operation system has been developed in close cooperation between ABB Crane Systems and Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) in Panama.

The first phase: fixed cabin
The crane is equipped with a fixed cabin mounted on the crane leg. Aided by cameras, the operator can control the crane from a familiar environment; the fixed cabin is a replica of the trolley-mounted operator’s cabin with additional monitors for camera images. After having delivered more than 300 remotely operated stacking cranes and with a suite of automation features for the STS cranes, it was a natural step for ABB to test automatic STS operation supported by camera images.

With a more upright operating position and by avoiding the acceleration/deceleration forces from the trolley, the operator gains a better working environment. Frequently occurring back problems can be eliminated and costs of sick leave are greatly reduced. This opens the way for future cranes with faster trolleys and shorter acceleration/deceleration times.

During the test period, ABB worked closely with the MIT team to evaluate and improve functionality. Engineers and operators were involved throughout the entire development and testing process to guarantee the best possible solution for operation. The goal was to prove that operation from a fixed cabin could be as productive as operation from a movable cabin. That goal was well achieved.

The second phase: remote control
After successful implementation of the fixed cabin, the next phase was to implement operation from a remote control station (RCS)…..

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