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How 3D Technology is Making Ports Safer

October 05, 2022  |  Tony Rigoni

By Tony Rigoni, director of industrial automation market development and alliances, Quanergy

Ports and terminals are becoming increasingly automated, making it even more important to keep operations running smoothly while protecting personnel safety. Avoiding collisions is especially critical. Not only is it critical to prevent potentially hazardous accidents, but such accidents can also result in costly downtime and damage to equipment. 

Ports rank high among the highest risk sectors to work in due to the safety hazards that workers face on a daily basis. With their hurried operations and massive, heavy equipment, these surroundings pose a considerable risk for traffic incidents. Such incidents are a major cause of work-related injuries and fatalities in marine terminals. Sophisticated LiDAR-based technologies can play a key role here. 

How Quanergy and LiDAR help

Quanergy’s LiDAR-based solutions address many critical applications for port operations thanks to powerful and sophisticated 3D visualization, long ranges and resilience even in the toughest environments. 

These applications include: 

Positioning – To facilitate automatic container handover, trucks need to be placed in the proper location beneath STS cranes. LiDAR sensors determine the relative positions of those trucks and RTG cranes so that materials can be dropped off or picked up securely and efficiently.

Navigation and collision avoidance – Ports need to assure that automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and advanced interactive traffic visualization system (AITVs) have dependable navigational and collision avoidance systems. The vehicles are equipped with LiDAR sensors that scan the environment continually. An alert sounds and the vehicle is stopped if an object is found in the monitored area. This lessens the chance of ground vehicles and other surrounding objects colliding.

Bulk material profiling – Workers manually inspect the items as they are being unloaded from a docked ship can endanger their safety and reduce operational efficiency. The 360-degree scanning range, dense point cloud, and 3D object visualization of Quanergy’s LiDAR technology offer better resolution. With the help of these capabilities, employees can locate bulk materials and determine their location, allowing operators to establish the safe operation zone, move the grab bucket there, determine the number of operating rows, and predict the grasping times for a single row or layer. With this information, the workers can see the operation area clearly and accurately for fully automated unloading and soft landing. All of this can be accomplished rapidly with LiDAR without putting workers in danger.

Perimeter security and intrusion detection – Quanergy’s LiDAR technology automates critical security processes to protect sensitive environments. It reduces false alarms and the manual labor of sifting through potential threats. It also provides unmatched accuracy and reliability to ward off potential tailgaters attempting to enter ports and other critical facilities. 

Shandong Port Group (SPG) Project

Here’s a real-world example of how Quanergy’s LiDAR solutions are improving safety and efficiency at ports.

The Shandong Port Group (SPG) project operates 17 main ports, more than 300 production berths and more than 300 routes. Located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, its goal is to handle 1.72 billion tons of cargo in 2025. 

SPG faced extensive challenges with its bulk terminal, which unfortunately are experienced by most of the bulk port terminals around the world. Most automation operations need to observe the shape of the stockpile, which is impossible using traditional methods. There was no way to define an accurate safe operation zone because it was impossible to determine the exact boundary of the cabin. Without being able to determine the coordinates of a specific point in the stockpile, grab buckets couldn’t be moved to the desired location and soft-landing of the grab wasn’t possible. These are just a few of the logistical problems they needed to overcome.

SPG contacted Shanghai Rays, an electronics science & technology company, for help. Shanghai Rays chose Quanergy technology for Shandong Port Group’s bulk terminal so they could get the location of the cabin and stockpile, as well as precise locations in the stockpile. Using these coordinates, they can also determine the safe operation zone and transfer the grab bucket to the desired place, determine how many operation rows there are and estimate the grasping times for a single row or layer. Now that they have a good visual representation of the operation space, they can fully automate unloading and do soft landings.

Shandong Port’s effective port automation made it possible to reduce costs and losses in ways never before possible. They were able to eliminate more than 90% of work-related accidents with a clearly defined safe operation zone, which reduced the risk of losses from employee compensation, turnover and reduced productivity. Compared to manual operation, labor expenses have been reduced by 25%, while productivity has increased by 20%. In less than three months of operation, the Quanergy LiDAR system paid for itself, and it continues to support rising revenues at this high-volume bulk terminal.

Keeping it moving

As more ports implement automation, it’s critical to ensure that the technology being used isn’t putting people at risk. How do you balance safety, security and efficiency? Quanergy LiDAR technology meets each of these requirements while offering many other benefits, as well, enabling ports to do their important work of moving goods around the world.  

Tags:  Industrial