Container Terminal Management System and Internet of Things

By | 29/09/2014

Expected Use of IoT in Terminals

The industry is taking a growing interest in Internet of Things (IoT) that connects through a network all various objects used in daily life. If IoT is applied to container terminals, it is expected to facilitate the tracking of terminal equipment, thus improving efficiency in equipment operation and reducing operating costs.

Increasing interest in IoT from the industry

With the recent evolution of the Internet of Things, its scope of application is expanding from consumer electronics and auto to cover industrial facilities like heavy equipment. As prices go down for sensors or communications-ready modules, the installation cost has decreased, thus enabling the provision of differentiated services for customers.

Use of IoT as demonstrated by Komatsu

IoT is similar to the earlier concept of M2M (Machine to Machine) communication, and in a certain case, the current makeup of IoT was realized ten years ago and has since been in use. That’s Komatsu, a Japanese company supplying construction machinery such as excavators and bulldozers. The construction vehicles from the company are equipped with an assortment of sensors. And data created by the sensors is automatically sent through a communications satellite or a mobile network to a Komatsu server, where it is accumulated. With this, Komatsu can check the current condition of specific vehicles, verify their normal operation, and identify their locations through GPS.

Example of Using Internet of Things by Komatsu

Example of Using Internet of Things by Komatsu

Thus, the company has created a structure that ensures central control and data collection with regard to the distribution and condition of construction machines scattered around the globe.
By visualizing this data, Komatsu provides equipment purchasers with information needed for its maintenance, thus allowing it to figure out the causes of equipment malfunctions more easily. This has reduced the time for repairing equipment, which has in consequence reduced maintenance costs for customers. Moreover, with the company’s sales agents, it has created a basis for keeping appropriate inventory levels by precisely predicting demand for equipment and parts needed by customers in specific regions.

Expected Changes to Container Terminal Management System

Compared to the time when Komatsu adopted IoT, sensors or communications modules are now smaller and cheaper, thus easier to apply. If a terminal gets IoT, it becomes possible to use information on all movements of equipment in the terminal. And such information will contribute to clearing backup in the terminal and improving operational efficiency.

1. Figuring out and beating bottlenecks that lower productivity in a container terminal

Even a conventional terminal that lacks automation equipment can obtain information on manually operated equipment such as cranes and YT by attaching sensors on them. In the past, operators used their naked eyes to check the status of operation and employed communications devices to report results and occurrence of problems, but adoption of IoT will enable automatic obtainment of such information at the control tower. By accumulating and analyzing the gathered container-tracking information, the process can implement preventive measures on the points where errors frequently occur or productivity has been lowered, thus ensuring efficient and proactive operation of a terminal.

Sensing - Crane, YT Moving/Driving Speed
- Crane, YT Moving/Driving distance
- Turn Time Breakdown(Waiting/empty driving/Loaded driving etc)

2. Improving efficiency and reducing maintenance cost through optimized equipment management

Information acquired through the sensors installed on equipment that may be used in terminal operation includes specific data collected from different units of equipment. When one learns fuel consumption, check period alert, and actual operating time, one can create a work plan and issue a work order that each reflect the information with a view to ensuring efficient terminal operation.

Sensing - Fuel consumption
- Maintenance reminders
- Actual working hours                                                         


Things to Consider when Adopting IoT in Container Yard Management System

There are terminals that have various sensors installed on the STS container crane, ASC, and yard equipment. Especially, automated terminals, compared to ordinary ones, run on a far larger number of sensors.

Frequently, however, data created through the sensors is managed only as a result of basic operation. In most cases, such data is used to manage individual units of equipment. There is no organic process that places an entire terminal in perspective for accumulation and management of the data, which is not exploited in the way of optimizing the entire terminal.
So, a container-tracking system, which allows sensors to collect data on the movement of the gates, yard tractors, yard cranes, and STS container cranes and ensures its analysis through optimization tools, it will facilitate terminal optimization.


Posted by Ho-seok Lee, a general manger, who has developed business plans and sales strategy in technology business. Be sure to follow me on Linkedin.


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