Author Archives: Namhoon Jung

About Namhoon Jung

A manager of Terminal Automation Team, who has more than 20 years of maritime and IT experience. Be sure to follow me on Linkedin.

Methods for Tracking CHE in Port Terminals and Future Prospects for Technologies

terminal equipment

terminal equipment

Methods for Tracking CHE in Port Terminals and Future Prospects for Technologies

As we mentioned it in our article on 4 Stages of Big Data Exploitation in Container Terminals, the most rudimentary infrastructure required for data transmission and reception in a terminal is network technology and equipment positioning. In this piece, we are going to describe the method for tracking the location of the equipment (ITV, forklift, empty container handler, and reach stacker) that registers a high level of free mobility among container handling equipment (CHE) found in terminals.

Unlike cranes (such as RMG, RTG, and STS), such equipment has access to various spaces of the yard, and for this reason, they are harder to locate accurately, compared to cranes that move along specified paths.

Then, we will take a look at representative methods for positioning the above-mentioned equipment in port terminals.
 

RFID-based positioning

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is composed of tag and reader antenna. When the RFID tag attached to CHE enters an area where a specific antenna is installed, the antenna reads the tag. By calculating the distance to the tag thus read, the two-dimensional position of CHE in the terminal is calculated.
Location-determining algorithms include various methods of TOA, TDOA, AOA, and RSS, of which TOA par exemple calculates the location by using the distance between a tag and three or more antennas.

TOA method

TOA method

The performance of this RFID-based RTLS (Real-Time Location Service) varies according to its used tag, antenna, and reader, and generally registers a 3-5m accuracy.

However, the RFID-based positioning has various limitations. To ensure real-time RFID-based positioning, antenna and reader must be installed to cover a wide port terminal, which is bound to add to costs. Moreover, even if enough coverage is secured by installing more antennas, interference won’t be easy to get rid of.

Despite such technical limitations, there have been various attempts to apply it to ports until recently, while for example, YANICT conducted research on some other method for installing antenna and reader in ITV (Ting et al., 2012).

 

GPS positioning

With its large equipment and high price, it used to be employed in certain industries only, but lately, distribution of smartphones and widespread use of vehicle navigators have made it a technology that is highly accessible to ordinary people. A number of ports are also using GPS technology to locate cranes and ITV.
GPS as we know it is the US-operated GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), and more systems are available, including Russia-operated GLONASS, Beidou of China, and Galileo of EU.
As the name suggests, satellites are on the move along a specified orbit around the earth. And triangulation is employed to calculate locations by simultaneously receiving a plural number of (minimum 4) satellite signals for a specific location at the current point of time.
      
In a notable case, GPS has been adopted by PNC Terminal in Busan, where low-priced GPS equipment is installed in ITV, R/S, and ECH to perform real-time 

PNC Visualizer (GPS-based)

PNC Visualizer (GPS-based)

Even such a low-priced GPS receiver can define a location as accurately as about 2m in an open field presenting no signal blockage.

However, in a yard under an STS crane where containers are piled high, an error may run up to several tens of meters. To minimize such errors, PNC is operating map matching, which compares to a map through post-processing.

That is a brief description of RFID/RTLS and GPS, the leading methods for positioning CHE in port terminals. The presence of a great number of containers in a terminal affects positioning with radio-frequency interference, and there is no method that can completely perform positioning without incurring a great cost in such adverse conditions.

I think that the best policy under such circumstances is to choose the best available performance instead of the best possible performance while accepting limitations of different technologies and focusing their good sides.
 

Difficulty involved in positioning in port terminals

Various positioning solutions have long been developed and advanced in academia and in the industry, but no solution has been established for port terminals.

Most solutions for positioning in a large space are based on RF communications. RFID and GPS, which we discussed earlier, are both RF-based methods, and their biggest drawback is multi-path error.

The error occurs when the antenna which receives signals catches the signals bouncing off those various substances around. The multi-path error is known to become serious, especially when metal is involved (Yi et al., 2012).

Photo of multipath error test

Photo of multipath error test

Standard deviation according to distance and materials for observed value in west.east direction

Standard deviation according to distance and materials for observed value in west.east direction

Mixing & combination of multiple technologies for improving terminal positioning

Thus, the method for determining location through wireless communications in the specific environment of a port is not doing its job properly because of deterring factors. Then, what is an optimized positioning solution?

An alternative that is drawing spotlight is the positioning method that merges two or more technologies and thereby makes up for one another’s shortcomings, which is up and coming over positioning with one single technology. For example, GPS/INS positioning integrates navigation satellite system, which calculates absolute position, and INS (Inertial Navigation System), which calculates movements based on relative positioning.

CyberLogitec BANDI-200

CyberLogitec BANDI-200

CyberLogitec is also working to find a solution in the integrated positioning. In other words, while overall positioning is performed in GPS, INS technology kicks in and starts positioning operation when satellite signal is unstable, has its quality lowered, and doesn’t have enough visible satellites. In locations like tunnels where satellite signal is completely kept out, satellite navigation system can’t calculate positions. Here, by using INS, which combines gyroscope and acceleration sensor, one can guess at the subsequent positions by identifying direction and speed.

Concept of GPS.INS

Concept of GPS/INS

Previously used mainly for military systems or to research purpose, INS reached its commercialization when the latest development of MEMS technology promoted its application in cell phone and drone, the unmanned helicopter. While price gap between high-end and low-end products is huge, effective positioning accuracy could be ensured by using low-priced MENS IMU to overcome the limitations and drawbacks of GPS only. CyberLogitec is operating such GPS/INS equipment in Jebel Ali &3, which is operated by NCT and DP World in Saudi Arabia. Positions are 100% calculated on a specific project site with 1.5m accuracy.

terminal truck

truck @ terminal

 

Directions for future advancement

Currently used positioning algorithm integrates GPS and INS only. GPS/INS is no perfect solution, however, because INS has the technical disadvantage that increasing duration from its default value adds to its errors.

Considering the characteristically poor conditions of a port terminal, we think that additional integrated navigation method is necessary to ensure maximum accuracy. For example, if one uses vision technology to recognize a specific reference point in an area where satellite signal is blocked and GPS positioning is difficult and then uses it as a value to renew the default value of INS, a more reliable positioning will be possible.

Basic concept of stereo vision

Basic concept of stereo vision

 
 
 
 
 
 If you would like to have more information, please contact us.
 
 
 
CyberLogitec Contact
 
 
 

References
T.-H. Yi, H.-N. Li, M. Gu (2012), “Effect of different construction materials on propagation of GPS monitoring signals”, Measurement 45, p1126-1139.
http://www.furuno.com/en/gnss/technical/tec_dead

http://www.sage.unsw.edu.au/currentstudents/ug/projects/Panya/thesis.html

Joo-sang, Park (2010), “Active RFID-based Real-Time Location Systems”,  Korea Internet conference 2010.

Calin, G. and Roda, V (2007), “Real-time disparity map extraction in a dual head stereo vision system”, Latin America Applied Research 37, 21-24.

Things to Consider in Applying Industrial Network Technology in Ports and Terminals

Things to Consider in Applying Industrial Network Technology in Ports and Terminals

In our earlier article 4 Stages of Big Data Exploitation in Container Terminals, we had a look at the needs for automated terminals and saw how big data could be applied in a terminal. In this piece, we are going to describe things that must be considered when creating network infrastructure, the basic and essential element of various equipment and data transmission and reception in an automated terminal that uses big data.

 

Three basic attributes of network creation for industrial sites

There are things that one must take note of for developing a network for an industrial site. Basically, a network must have reliability, real-time responsiveness, and stability.

Reliability is about making sure that data or a signal sent to a device has properly reached it. If data sent to industrial equipment gets lost, something unexpected can result from the specific operation.
 
Real-time responsiveness implies that in conducting control or real-time monitoring between devices, response to data is delivered within a specified period of time. Since equipment used on industrial sites has huge size and weight, its status check and safety cannot be assured without real-time performance.
 
Stability implies that in case network infrastructure runs into problems, it must have a way to bypass them. If an industrial site suffers its IT service to stop for some reason, it will immediately lead to loss for a company and furthermore, the afore-mentioned reliability and real-time responsiveness cannot be guaranteed, either.
 

Considering such potential issues, the industry is developing standard protocols such as Ethernet/IP, Profinet, and Modbus. In order to realize automation in ports and terminals, it is required to apply these protocols to the wired network for parts related to control and monitoring.

Standard protocols_EthernetIP_Profinet_Modbus

Standard protocols_EthernetIP_Profinet_Modbus

 

Reason that Wi-Fi is most frequently used in creating a wireless network in ports and terminals

Port and terminal environment cannot be created with the above wired network alone. It’s because a yard characteristically covers a large area and has its various equipment move freely. While it is required to introduce a wireless network in a terminal, it is not easy to successfully apply a wireless network. Currently, various wireless network services such as 3G, Wide Band, Narrow band, and Wi-Fi are available, but consideration of traffic volume and financial cost finds Wi-Fi network the most frequently used. If not for financial consideration, using a licensed bandwidth provides the best service quality, but it comes with continued financial burden. Among unlicensed bandwidths, Wide Band and Narrow Band technologies are available, but with narrow bandwidth available for transmission, they have difficulty in transmitting needed traffic. So, Wi-Fi network should be the most suitable under current circumstances with its economy and technology.

 

Things to consider when applying Wi-Fi to ports

When we apply such Wi-Fi network to a port, there are things that we must consider in addition to the characteristics of wired network mentioned earlier.

First, it’s coverage. While this is a basic thing about using wireless network, it is the first thing that has to be considered for ports that are composed of iron such as equipment and containers, because of the characteristics of radio wave (which does not travel through but bounces off iron). So, a network design must anticipate various situations while considering the stacking and movement of containers. Using recently developed Wireless Mesh network technology can further boost Wi-Fi coverage.

Wireless Mesh network Coverage

Wireless Mesh network Coverage

Second, it’s interference. Using unlicensed bandwidth cannot do away with the issue. It’s because one cannot assert one’s exclusive area in a bandwidth that anyone can use. Interference is the issue that is the most difficult to overcome in a Wi-Fi environment. It’s because you don’t know who is using which bandwidth of frequency, which is invisible. It is also because customs, national agencies, and outside companies, which a terminal cannot manage, may use the same bandwidth. A problem like that cannot be easily discovered with an ordinary type of Wi-Fi tool and its occurrence is unpredictable. To solve such a problem, consultation with neighboring organizations must precede the creation of a Wi-Fi network, and if a problem has occurred, it can be checked using a Wi-Fi spectrum analyzer.

Wi-fi interference using unlicensed bandwidth

Wi-fi interference using unlicensed bandwidth

Third, it is roaming. When ITV, which has wireless clients, roams a wide area, it is out of the question for a single access point (AP) to cover a radius of minimum 100m. So, a number of APs are installed, considering its coverage. As they move between access points, clients repeatedly experience connection, disconnection, and reconnection. And in case roaming does not work properly, network disconnection will repeat continuously. Indeed, when this problem occurred, people had to stop their work occasionally, which adversely influenced the operation. The problem should be solved by testing the compatibility between AP infrastructure and wireless LAN client module, which must be considered before one decides to get the network. Or, it is important to see whether wireless LAN infrastructure supports fast roaming technology, which is provided by each wireless LAN vendor.

Turbo roaming for seamless connection

Turbo roaming for seamless connection

We have so far reviewed the characteristics of network which are required in a terminal environment. We believe that considering the above-mentioned basic characteristics could reduce problems that occur in a terminal network environment.

 

In addition, a document on applying wireless LAN on industrial sites, created by Cisco and Rockwell, is available at the URL below.

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/solutions/Verticals/CPwE/NovCVD/CPwE_WLAN_CVD.pdf

 

If you would like to discuss further, please contact us.

CyberLogitec Contact

Four Stages of Big Data Exploitation in Container Terminals

Four Stages of Big Data Exploitation in Container Terminals

“Big data” refers to the data sets that can be described as ubiquitous or found anywhere. This article summarizes the possible sources of big data in container terminals and how this information can be used in improving the overall efficiency of container terminals.
 

Exploiting big data with a view to ensuring an accurate data analysis and improving responses to situations for terminals

The key software for operating a container terminal is the terminal operating system or TOS. A TOS manages processes from documentation, planning, execution of vessel operations and billing. The amount of data handled by the TOS is limited to inventory changes, work plans and sequences for dispatching jobs. Much more data is generated in terminals, including those from sensors and programmable logic controllers that have been built into cargo handling equipment deployed in such facilities. This data however, mostly remains under-processed or under-analyzed to be of real value.

TOS & Big Data

TOS & Big Data

Big data platform has been suggested with a view to collecting, storing, and analyzing various data that occurs from container terminals but is volatile enough to disappear quickly. This processed data can then be used meaningfully in the operation of the terminal. With big data platform in place, not only TOS information but also signals related to crane position and status and GPS position signal (if any) can be managed as data. Also, a lot of variables present in a terminal such as time, seasons, weather, temperature, humidity, and driver’s condition can be collected, processed and used as well.

Big data goes beyond its literal meaning of an enormous amount of data and may be defined as data that has a large volume, a short life cycle, and a great variety of attributes. Provided that big data is applied in container terminals, it can be exploited as a useful tool for analyzing past operational data. This can help to reduce risks and costs by viewing it in relation to the current conditions and in forecasting activities in the future.

 

Four stages in the exploitation of big data in terminals

If applied in a terminal, the general development of big data platform can be configured in four stages as shown below.

Step of Big Data in Terminal Industry

Step of Big Data in Terminal Industry

Stage 1 (Data Gathering): Data + System = Information

Any event or situation that can occur during operation can be a source of terminal data. This information is obtained in a three-step process: first by applying devices that can measure different conditions; second by having an environment that transmit measured data; and third by using a system that can store and manage the transmitted data.

[For example, GPS sensor is installed in a yard truck to gather location data in the formats of time stamp, sensor ID, and send these values to big data storage, using the terminal’s WiFi network.]

Stage 2 (Meaning of Information): Information + Experience = Knowledge

After the information acquired and saved in stage 1 has been identified, it can be reprocessed further by applying conditions gathered from actual experience. Thus the information is converted into knowledge.

[For example, one decides in which area (in relative location; e.g., 1A-31) a vehicle (in absolute location; e.g., 34.5678, 75.3454) is located and if it is the location for the task at hand, based on the location data for the yard truck that is acquired stage 1.]

Stage 3 (Knowledge Integration): Knowledge + Intuition = Wisdom

This is about analyzing knowledge that is accumulated through Stage 1 and Stage 2 and collecting and connecting all batches of data. The resulting system-generated information can then be in making guided decisions.

[For example, when traffic is heavy on the road leading to a destination, information is provided to help a motorist avoid crowded roads and take a less-congested one. Or, work orders are delivered to ensure speedier performance by a yard truck depending on yard status.]

Stage 4 (Wisdom-Based Prediction): Wisdom + Imagination = Creation

In this stage, one forecasts and simulates special circumstances that can develop from the current situation of a terminal. This is done by performing a comprehensive analysis of the wisdom about terminal operation that has been accumulated in Stage 3. By adding imagination (new attempts and new technology) to this wisdom, one can ensure creative terminal operation by forecasting unexpected situations on the job through simulation.

[For example, by simulating work implementation prior to the arrival of a container ship, one can predict the number of cranes and trucks that has to be allotted to tasks, operators to be assigned to the yard, and the severity of congestion at the gate.]

 

System support is necessary for big data exploitation

In this article we have reviewed the four stages of big data adoption in terminals. The stages are distinguished according to the level of exploitation of big data. Even if the concept of big data is applied to a terminal, it is not going to develop right away to Stage 3 or 4 immediately. To reach a higher stage, one must amass enough know-how and experience related to big data exploitation.

With the increasing interest in an automation system that can supplement the existing TOS, larger amounts of data can be accumulated and these can be converted to useful information that can be employed terminal operation. More and more terminals are rushing to introduce big data-based automation systems as a means of equipping themselves with the differentiated competitive edge resulting in reduced operation costs and improved ability to respond to situations.

Then, what factors do terminals have to have to collect big data? In our next article, we are going to take a look at terminal network and positioning technology, the basic factors of collection of various data in a terminal.

 

Posted by Namhoon Jung, a manager of Terminal Automation Team, who has more than 20 years of maritime and IT experience. Be sure to follow me on Linkedin.

 

If you have more information about big data in container terminal, please contact us.

CyberLogitec Contact

 

Container Terminal Automation Competition Going On

Container Terminal Automation Competition Going On.

 

As competition intensifies among terminals, demand is increasing for container terminal automation in order to secure competitiveness for terminals. And terminal automation can be realized not only for terminals that have adopted automated container handling equipment (CHE) but also for those that are using conventional CHE. In this article, we are going to give a quick look at the background to the development of terminal automation, and then, we’ll check the role of the system in the terminals that have adopted automated and conventional CHE, respectively.

 

Terminal automation: from a terminal marketing tool into a competitive element

Despite numerous attempts made for last half-century after the arrival of quay crane and RTG designed for container terminal operation, container terminal operation remains nearly the same as it was then. But, one single word that represents the most important change to container terminal operation is perhaps ‘automation’. The automation of container terminals, which was led by several technical pioneers, focused on mechanical automation designed for unmanned operation of giant machines and horizontal transports, and newly adopted advanced technology has served a major marketing tool for newly opening terminals. Today, however, competition seems to be starting in container terminal automation.

 

Various initiatives in automated terminals

Technologically speaking, it is believed that the standard for terminal automation which adopted perpendicularly arranged blocks and used ASC and AGV was created through the two attempts at ECT (1991) and CTA (2001). In fact, automation is diversifying into such types as the automation using a straddle carrier, application of a shuttle carrier that replaces AGV, the automation of RMG and RTG, and the automation of STS container cranes. The high labor cost in advanced countries was a major rationale for introducing the automation but nowadays, the type and level of automation are decided while taking into consideration a variety of factors such as the status of other terminals that compete in the same area, the size of transshipment cargo, invested fund, and operating costs during a life cycle.

 

Improvement of TOS is necessary to enhance the usability of automated CHE

While a lot of CHE manufacturers are lately releasing automated CHE that boasts advanced features in response to the changing conditions, there also exist barriers to entry that are detrimental to market penetration. It’s because adopting automated CHE does not mean simply acquiring an automated machine that replaces manual CHE. While conventional operation may rely on a driver’s manual reporting of job confirmation with terminal operating system (TOS) playing the key role, applying automated CHE requires TOS and automated CHE to automate driver action process through M2M (machine to machine). In other words, one has to create a broader terminal operating system that organically combines TOS and automated CHE, which needs to diversify infrastructure including industrial wireless network. Things become more complicated, especially if expanding an existing conventional terminal adds automated CHE or if automated CHE and manual CHE are mixed in operation as when a new terminal automates yard crane only. It is because automated CHE that can be controlled by a system behaves differently from CHE that is driven by a human who has free will.

 

Expanding control system for supplementing TOS functions

In adapting to the development, TOS providers have put in a lot of effort to improve functions and have racked up some achievements. However, since even those experienced leading TOS market players are not able to single-handedly conduct automation equipment monitoring and all of the control features owing to the system architecture of TOS, they perform an automated terminal project through third control systems such as TBA’s TEAMS and CyberLogitec’s Eagle Eye that functionally combine excellently with TOS.

 

Realizing terminal automation by using conventional CHE which includes PDS

And container terminal automation is not possible only through the adoption of unmanned CHE. It is a highly meaningful method of automation that at once contributes to the social value of job creation to realize process automation by adding PDS (position determination system) to a new or existing conventional CHE instead of acquiring very costly automated CHE in planning the automation of new terminals or existing conventional terminals. It can get the same visibility as when automated CHE is acquired by not only preventing mis-operation due to a user’s mistake or delayed job completion date through automating container hand-off process with PDS, but also having the system actively guide a driver through VMT in accordance with pre-defined process and actively intervene to solve problems.

Eagle Eye, the container terminal operating system measuring performance effectively

Eagle Eye, the container terminal operating system measuring performance effectively

As various automated CHE and concepts for their operation are presented for container terminal automation, market players are competing more and more intensively to fulfill terminal operators’ mission, which consists in cost saving, productivity improvement, safer operation, and social contribution.

 

 

Posted by Namhoon Jung, a manager of Terminal Automation Team, who has more than 20 years of maritime and IT experience. Be sure to follow me on Linkedin.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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