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MPET MSC PSA European Terminal

With a capacity of 9 million TEUs, MPET MCS PSA is Europe's largest container terminal handling 50% of containers in the port of Antwerp. Camco has been MPET’s technology partner since its relocation from the Delwaidedock to the Deurganckdock in 2016.

The relocation project was the perfect occasion to redesign the gate and quay processes.

Complete make-over of the gate process

The gate process at the previous location was still in full manual operation, with all manual lanes, problem & admin desks requiring important overall administration.

The relocation was the perfect occasion to completely rethink and automate the Gate process: A Truck Appointment System (TAS), visual OCR Gate-In and Pre-Gate-In with automated Gate process were implemented.

A careful capacity assessment led to a 3-step Gate-In design including 3 Truck OCR-In lanes, 12 Pre-Gate-In lanes and 13 Gate-In lanes to avoid bottlenecks and queuing at the Gate-In complex, which processes more than 3000 trucks daily at peak times.

VBS truck appointment system for better truck flow management

One of the process changes to speed up the gate process, was the implementation of an in-house developed Truck Appointment System (TAS). The terminal, trucking companies and truck drivers benefit from the TAS: For MPET, the TAS is a great tool for managing transparent time-slots for the terminal’s 24/5 schedule. The tool contributes significantly to managing peaks but also facilitates yard housekeeping.

Getting trucking companies and drivers on board required communication and training, but with upfront truck, driver and cargo registration, the terminal’s users were able to reduce the hassle at the gate and significantly improve their truck-turnaround.

Reducing the complexity an the interchange zone

Prior to the relocation, the Interchange Zones required extensive input from truckers, delaying turnaround. With the Truck Appointment System and the Camco interchange kiosks put in place, the admin hassle for the driver is replaced by a simple badge swipe.

With reduced paperwork, only one LSTP kiosk is needed for every two container transfer lanes. Apart from faster turnaround, the Camco Interchange Kiosks contribute to increased safety since its process design requires drivers to stay in a safety zone during container pick-up and drop-off: drivers need to hold down the safety button during the complete container transfer process.

Quay operations: STS-crane automation.

Another cornerstone of the terminal automation strategy implied STS-crane automation. Prior to the terminal relocation, each of the 41 STS crane had a tallyman in the gang operating a handheld terminal manually completing container ID & ISO code, IMDG, seal presence and max gross weight.

In search of a robust OCR crane solution, different routes had been assessed.

Soon, it seemed that a PTZ camera system would not be a viable solution. Fixed CCTV cameras were considered for a moment, but this solution would require a substantial set of cameras per crane to avoid blind spots, a complex system integration and possible significant downtime during camera maintenance. Moreover, lack of proven solutions in the container handling industry was an additional drawback. The risk assessment for both alternatives soon turned negative.

With only two dynamic cameras per crane, Camco BoxCatcher system came out as the best STS crane automation solution. The Camco BoxCatcher disruptive design composed of a flying camera system hoovering over vertical rails fixed onto the crane frontal legs, enabling the capturing of every container, whatever the spreader flight path. With the Camco solution, only two BoxCatchers per crane are required for container identification providing 360° images of each box, be it 20, 40 or 45ft containers.

Prowess project management

Implementing 41 cranes with two BoxCatcher systems each was quite a challenge. The joint project team was well prepared and had learned from an earlier BoxCatcher implementation project at PSA Antwerp.

The BoxCatcher rails were assembled on-site. Hoisting the rails took place in scheduled windows of 2 by 2 cranes. This way, Camco and MPET managed to install and commission two cranes in just a 2-3-day time window. Aware of the many challenges, the MPET team succeeded well in taking into account all aspects of the operation without disrupting operations:

  • Maximum preparation of the cranes during normal maintenance windows: cabling, electrical cabinets, industrial PCs, IT network testing etc.
  • Detailed planning of installation weeks: hoisting, fiber cable pulling
  • Relying on the in-house partner for STS welding works for greater efficiency
  • Avoiding aerial/boom lifts and relying on specialized STS crane climbing team.
  • Getting stakeholders on-board with an extensive training and communication roll-out.

From design to installation in just 12 months

“With 82 BoxCatcher installed on 41 cranes in less than one year, and minimal operational impact in a record year of handling 7.5+ million TEU in Europe’s single largest container terminal with the biggest crane density, this project has been very successful to say the least”

Key reasons to choose Camco

When selecting the appropriate solution, system performance remained the key driver. Accuracy is paramount as it determines the exception rate of the automated process. In the end, the exception rate determines the business-case for implementing the solution.

Camco has a proven track record of integrated terminal automation solutions including complete gate automation systems and Crane OCR. Working with a single experienced integrator, who carries end-to-end responsibility and provides support, definitely limits the number of different systems interfacing with each other.

The complete automation project includes a substantial quantity of hard and software. Good upfront SLA contract clauses and a daily/weekly liaising between the MPET Service Management Department and Camco Maintenance & Support team is key for maximum uptime and performance.

Onboarding of stakeholders

All internal and external stakeholders were involved in the change process: customers, unions, tallymen and the terminal management. Tallymen received training for their new exception-handling role. Today, they can handle exceptions safely from a desk instead of doing the same tasks in dangerous conditions right under the crane.

Customers such as trucking companies and independent truck drivers have also been informed about the changes well before their implementation, and they now embrace the automation process since it significantly reduces the paper hassle and endless waiting at the gate and Interchange Zones.

Need a make-over of your terminal processes?

Not every project is as complex as the relocation of a complete terminal. At Camco, we have the competences to bring all automation projects to a good end within budget and time frame. Contact us to reap the benefits of terminal automation