Article written by Louis Noriega, President of Automated Port Solutions (APS), Robolliance Expert
Automated Rail Mounted Gantry (ARMG) Cranes and Automated Guided Vehicle or Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) are two of the cutting edge robotic pieces of equipment that are enabling modern Cargo Terminals to efficiently unload and load the larger cargo ships that will soon be traversing the Panama Canal and servicing the East Coast of the United States. Post-Panamax denotes ships that do not fit in the Panama Canal, such as supertankers and the largest modern container and passenger ships. Modern Cargo Terminals today are making use of innovative design, which are based upon using robotic ship-to-shore (STS) cranes to unload containers from vessels and place them directly on the AGVs, which can carry two containers at a time, and automatically bring them from the quay to the container yard using an onboard navigation system following a computerized transponder grid. Once the Lift AGV arrives at its programmed destination, it places the containers into a series of storage racks.
An Automated Guided Vehicle or Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) is a mobile robot that follows markers or wires in the floor, or uses vision, magnets, or lasers for navigation. They are most often used in industrial applications to move materials around a manufacturing facility or warehouse. Modern Cargo Terminals have made use of battery-powered, Lift-AGVs, battery packs and robotic Battery Exchange Stations, enabling an automated exchange of the battery pack. The Battery Lift-AGV allows modern Cargo Terminals to achieve higher levels of performance while minimizing environmental impact.
With diesel-electric Lift-AGVs, the diesel engine produces CO2/NOx/particulate emissions at the terminal. By removing the diesel engines, emissions (CO2 / NOx / particulate matter) are removed at the terminal, as well as eliminating diesel engine noise. The Lift-AGVs use a battery pack that allows eight hours of driving time. To switch battery packs, the Lift-AGVs drive to the Battery Exchange Station and begin a fully automated process in which the Battery Exchange Station completes the procedure through robotic automation.
The ARMG then arrives to move the container from the rack to its next designated location: the rail terminal, a waiting truck or another area of the storage yard. The ARMGs use a fully automated system to safely load/unload a container onto a truck chassis. When not operating in support of vessel loading or unloading, the system features a “grooming” capability that re-stows/restacks containers for easy access for the next vessel load plan. This feature of automated yard optimization of the container yard during quiet times allows for better efficiency at peak times.