The future of container handling
We can call anywhere, we can simply order a pizza via our tablet and an on-board computer makes driving a car child’s play. Today’s technology makes it easier to perform even the most complex tasks in no time at all. Time is not standing still in the world of harbours either; the total capacity of the average container ship has tripled over the past thirty years; some ships today can transport 18,000 containers. Container terminals have to be designed to be able to accommodate this proliferation and have to search for new methods enabling them to process the growing stream of containers safely and effectively. Is the rapid modernisation of the port’s loading and unloading equipment and the operator’s role in this process an unavoidable consequence?
Remote control; the standard for the immediate future?
The capacity of the average container ship has multiplied over the past thirty years and it is the continuously growing limits that constantly put the adaptive capacity of terminals to the test. A difficult and sometimes impossible task when the limits of the increase in capacity are not coming into sight. One result, however, is that cranes are required to travel greater distances and must become increasingly bigger in order to be able to rise above loaded ships. This can demand the utmost from crane and operator. When a crane is remotely controlled, this makes the process healthier for the crane operator. The operator can then do his/her work under improved conditions at the office – without having machinery cause coffee to spill from his/her cup.
Such feasible changes are currently being implemented at APM Terminals on the Maasvlakte 2. All crane equipment will be automated, remotely controlled and will become operational over the course of 2014. If this turns out to be a success story, it won’t take long before other new terminals will also decide to fully or partly implement remote control for the loading and unloading of container giants. These new developments have motivated Merford Cabins to start looking for opportunities to merge its expertise and experience related to harbour processes, safety and ergonomics into an effective instrument for the further modernisation of harbours.
Merford’s Operator Desk
Merford Cabins has succeeded in developing an office-based ‘operator cabin’ consisting of a desk equipped with consoles and observation screens. The 24-hour seat, produced by the Dutch company BMA, makes it possible to complete extended shifts without any physical complaints. Both the chair and the desk make it possible to work ergonomically. Merford is capable of creating a working environment which is safe, healthy, efficient and durable. It's because of these aspects that Merford's expertise is essential for the development of a "Remote Control Room" as well (YouTube video). The world of tomorrow is moving towards complete control on many fronts; Merford likes to contribute to the realisation of harbour processes in which safety and health are a priority, and efficiency is a natural given.