Date Posted 6/8/20, 2:47 PM

Shipping containers have significantly transformed the transportation of goods, leading to changes and improvements in the global supply chain. The next step in container handling technology is the adoption of automation. Currently, there are several automated container terminals in operation and many more in development worldwide.
Automated container handling is a fully automatic system for transporting full and empty containers for loading, unloading, stacking, parking, or maintenance. The system can be configured as a single loop or multiple interconnected loops to cover various levels of a container terminal.

Automated container handling is crucial for more efficient and productive port operations and for meeting the demands of larger ships, taller cranes, and bigger cell sizes. In addition, automation in the container handling process improves the quality of container handling by bringing down Incident Rate (IR) while enhancing productivity and process reliability, making a massive impact on the logistics and supply chain industry.

How Automated Container Handling Works

Automated container handling systems utilize advanced technologies, including automation, robotics, and control systems. These technologies improve efficiency, safety, and reliability in container handling. The critical equipment in automated container handling is Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR), automated cranes like Automated Stacking Cranes or Automated Straddle Carriers (ASCs), Conveyors, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) or barcode systems, and data analysis software.

Sensor technology plays a significant role in automated container handling systems. Sensors collect data on the position, movement, and condition of containers and equipment in the terminal. This data is then used to control and optimize the movement of containers and equipment. It is also used to monitor and report on the system’s status. The most used sensors are position sensors like Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), Global Positioning System (GPS), load sensors, maintenance sensors, obstacle detection sensors, and temperature and humidity sensors.

There are different types of automated container handling systems. The major ones are AGV systems, ASC systems, Automated Rail-Mounted Gantry (ARMG) systems, Automated Container Terminal (ACT) systems, and Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS). All these systems are designed to enhance safety, efficiency, and reliability in container handling. The perfect system for a port can efficiently handle its trade volume and meet its terminal operation's specific needs.

Benefits of Automated Container Handling

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