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Patrick and Kalmar report a successful start to the automated straddle carrier terminal

More than six months since the groundbreaking automated straddle carrier terminal opened on Berth 7 of the Patrick Brisbane Fisherman Islands facility, developers Kalmar Industries and Patrick Technology Pty have reported that the trial has more than satisfied original expectations.

During a recent visit to Kalmar’s Tampere factory, Patrick representatives reported that, despite widespread industry doubts about the feasibility of terminal automation, the prototype site has produced excellent results, specifically in the areas of productivity, safety and cost efficiency.

According to Kalmar’s Vice President - Straddle Carriers, Ilkka Annala, over the past six months the automated straddle carriers have recorded impressive productivity rates, with crane lifts per hour averaging over 20 and peaking in the low 30s.

According to Mr Annala, one of the remarkable benefits of the automated terminal is the level of operational safety and cost-efficiency achieved through its technology:

“As we expected, Patrick has confirmed that there have been no accidents at the automated terminal, which will have a major positive influence on maintenance costs. This is thanks to the fact that the Kalmar straddle carriers are equipped with anti collision systems including semaphore prioritising systems and anti-collision lasers. The anti collision system ensures that should any unidentified object appear in the path of the machine, it will automatically come to a halt.”

Patrick Technology’s technology director, Graeme Nelmes, is also impressed with the cost-efficiency shown by the automated machines over the last six months:

“Automated operations are precise and there is little variation in the schedule of work. Early indications are that the smoother operation will result in lower fuel consumption and less wear and tear on tyres and brakes. Since the automated straddle carriers are not reliant on drivers, we are able to use them 24 hours a day, seven days a week if necessary,. This allows the terminal to carry out far more consolidations than in a traditional straddle carrier operation, thus streamlining ship operations. The terminal’s performance has been outstanding for this stage of development and we are looking forward to further increasing the flexibility and performance of the vehicle over the next 6 months.”

According to Mr Annala, significant improvements in the wear on yard construction and operation costs are expected :

“The automated straddle carriers operate according to a virtual map, not restricted to fixed stacks and line-markings. This obviously results in cost savings in relation to line markings and lighting. Pavement construction and maintenance costs will be reduced because unlike conventional (manned) operations, where tracks are used constantly, with the automated system, container stacks can be progressively moved (in software) half a metre to ensure pavement wear is consistent in the stacks”.

The Brisbane automated terminal is the culmination of more than six years of research and development by Kalmar Industries and Patrick Stevedores. The site currently employs five Kalmar automated straddle carriers and two cranes. The yard is managed by Patrick’s in-house systems. The Navis SPARCS system is used for ship planning. An intelligent yard stacking system employing a “scattered approach” to stack containers in the most efficient yard slots is being introduced.

Kalmar and Patrick are also mindful of the safety standards necessary within an automated system. As such, the terminal is enclosed by a 1.6 metre-high safety fence, which is monitored by closed circuit cameras. In the unlikely event that an intruder manages to access the site, an alarm system is in place. If the alarm is activated, terminal operations immediately cease.

Of course, there are times when it is necessary for personnel to enter the site and in such cases – for example reefer and road interchange operations – conditions are strictly controlled. An airlock system operates in the reefer area, meaning that if someone is monitoring a reefer unit, an automated straddle carrier would not be able to gain access to the reefer area. A specially designated area has also been created for the loading and unloading of containers by truck. Whilst in this area, straddle carriers are controlled by operators using a joystick remote control. Truck drivers are also required to leave the area and close the gate behind them once they have backed their vehicles into this designated area.

Initial results from the Brisbane site have been excellent, however functionality and control systems are still being refined. Patrick and Kalmar believe it will be 2004 before a large-scale, fully automated straddle carrier terminal is in operation. Although it will be some time before the Patrick / Kalmar automated straddle carrier goes on general sale the technology has been proven in Brisbane and should be considered now by all operators considering upgrading an existing facility or developing new facilities. Patrick Technology has consultants available to assist in this planning process.

Note to editors:

Earlier this year, Kalmar Industries became a shareholder in Patrick Technology and Systems (PTS), a new company established by the Australian company Patrick Corporation. PTS provides a platform for further development and marketing of automotive automation systems, building upon what has already been learnt by the two companies and what is now being learned with the first straddles in operation in a commercial environment.

Press information can be found on Kalmar’s website Simply click on News Room to be taken to a list of recent press releases or on Press Pictures to be taken to the Kalmar photo gallery.

The caption reads:

The world’s first fully-automated straddle carrier terminal – Patrick Stevedores’ Berth 7 at its Brisbane Fisherman Islands facility – is operated with five unmanned Kalmar straddle carriers and has produced excellent results in its first six months.

Kalmar is a global provider of heavy-duty materials handling equipment and services to ports, intermodal traffic, terminals and demanding industrial customers. Kalmar focuses on supplying handling solutions that enable customers to operate with a high level of efficiency and reliability. Every fourth container or trailer transfer at terminals around the world is handled by a Kalmar machine.

Kalmar provides a large range of value added services such as maintenance contracts and fleet management. Manufacturing plants are situated in Sweden (as is the head office), in Finland, the Netherlands, Estonia, Malaysia and the USA.

Patrick Corporation is the leading Australian terminal operator with activities in all major ports. The company has for many years been committed to the improvement of container handling operations utilising both computer systems and automation. For further information, please contact Chris Knott on telephone +61 2 93940000 or by e-mail at .

For more information,

Kalmar Communications Manager
Aija Kalander
e-mail at

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