February 23, 2021 | Tony Rigoni
Adopting LiDAR Technology for Terminal Automation
Ports are becoming automated at increasing rates around the world. According to McKinsey&Co., 80% of port automation experts and port senior executives believe more than half of all greenfield projects will be partially or fully automated in the next five years, with brownfield retrofitting not far behind. With careful planning and the right imaging equipment, automated ports are generating productivity increases of ten to 35 percent and expense reductions of 25 to 55 percent, not to mention vastly improved safety and performance metrics. This transition enables efficiency gains throughout the global economy while driving increased value for operators and suppliers.
What is LiDAR?
Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is a time-of-flight imaging technology, meaning it works by measuring the time it takes for light to bounce back to the receiver from objects in its field of view. It’s superior to cameras and radar in that LiDAR remains operational in the dark, in harsh weather, and covers a larger area. It also provides more advanced utility by providing a real-time three-dimensional image with velocity, range, and angle calculations for moving objects.
How does it work?
LiDAR relies on low-power, eye-safe lasers emitted from the transmitter/receiver. The data are used to generate a point cloud, a large data set composed of points that can be translated into a three-dimensional image by the appropriate software. LiDAR is used to identify, classify, and track moving objects like people and vehicles, as well as static objects like buildings and infrastructure. It can even provide you with business-specific analytics.
How is it used?
Lightweight and compact sensors are placed in strategic locations to provide three-dimensional visuals to the port docking center, helping to prevent collisions and making it easier and safer for operators to profile vessels, adjust container positions, and bring containers on shore with Ship to Shore (STS) cranes. It also makes it easier for drivers to position trucks optimally under the STS cranes. AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and automated stacking cranes (ASCs) use LiDAR to determine their position for navigation.
Bulk Material Volume Measurement
Quanergy LiDAR transmitters have a 360° field of view. That means that, with a single sensor, it completely map and analyze the contents of a container without sending a person down inside to take manual measurements. The dense point cloud provides a detailed and accurate visual of the contents with relevant measurements to aid in the stacking of materials.
Rubber Tired Gantry (RTG)
LiDAR can be used for collision avoidance by sensing any obstacles in front of the gantry. This prevents collision and downtime associated with accidents with people/cargo/equipment.
Autonomous Navigation (AGV and ITV)
LiDAR can also facilitate the further automation of your container terminal by enabling automated guided vehicles (AGV) and internal terminal vehicles (ITV) to navigate the movement of freight within the port without the need for specialized infrastructure.
Container Size Profiling
LiDAR can instantly profile and size shipping containers (20ft, 40ft, 53ft, high cube, flat rack, etc.). This information can be used by operators and TOS systems to optimize stacking and saves time by reducing errors.
Container Handling Equipment
You can minimize port stays and increase turnover times by optimizing container loading and unloading between trucks, vessels, and stacking yards with your LiDAR system. Automating crane position and steering with a LiDAR system supports ship to shore (STS) bulk handling. Gantry crane environment support offers crossing detection and collision prevention.
Security and Monitoring
Generate real-time, three-dimensional maps with customized digital boundaries to monitor containers and port equipment. Container terminal ports present vast opportunities for low-risk, high-profit crimes because many ports have inadequate security. A LiDAR system can help protect your operation from losses related to security and monitoring.
The Benefits of Adopting a LiDAR System
Your LiDAR system will generate marked improvements in safety, productivity, and employment, all with minimal operational maintenance. Advanced models like Quanergy’s M8 Prime LiDAR offer superior 3D resolution up to 200 meters in an industrial setting, regardless of weather. Larger area per sensor and a dense point cloud reduce your automation costs and improve data-driven efficiency. You can configure your LiDAR system through a user-friendly application programming interface (API) and allow it to operate without further input, maintenance, or equipment.