June 6, 2023

Making reach stackers work smarter

A new digital tool for automated cargo handling has been installed by Optilift at Seafront Logistics, Port of Kristiansand.

“We have installed our new technology on reach stackers used during lifting operations at the terminal, and we are happy to see that the container tracking works well. This system is designed to help operators save valuable time in their daily operation, says Torbjørn Engedal, CTO at Optilift.

Engedal describes the new solution as an important part in the ongoing effort to automate and digitalize cargo handling at terminals. Testing and customization were conducted in collaboration with Seafront Logistics, an operator at the Port of Kristiansand. Two cameras mounted on two reach stackers identify and register container movements automatically, and with this reduce handling time.

“We are pleased that Seafront Logistics emphasizes and invests in improving the efficiency of their operations and appreciate the good collaboration. We have a common interest in developing and deploying this technology” says Engedal.

André Haddeland (left) at Seafront Logistics maneuvered the reach stacker fitted with Optilift’s sensor-based camera system, while Arild Finne from Optilift observed closely by his side.

Scaling up

The next step will be to expand the system to include terminal cranes that handle containers from and onto vessels. The cranes will identify each container and register all movements. Once in place, port cargo operators will be able to automatically create a complete digital twin of the terminal.

“Today, the driver of the reach stacker must record container ID and locations manually on a screen when lifted. Entering the information takes time and slows down operations”, says Engedal. “We have taken an important step forward when it comes to digitizing goods handling at terminals. We have confirmed that our camera-based technology is able to identify containers automatically, using low-cost devices mounted onto reach stackers. The system also registers precisely where the container is placed.”

Cost and time efficient

During the first demonstration and training-day, which took place Thursday 25th of May, two reach stackers fitted with Optilift camera systems moved 40-foot containers effortlessly from one stack to the other. André Haddeland from Seafront Logistics maneuvered the reach stacker steadily, while Arild Finne from Optilift monitored the system in the wheelhouse.

Torbjørn Engedal gives his last instructions before the first runs with Seafront Logistics reach stackers.

From a safe distance, terminal manager Roy Hansen of Seafront Logistics observed the operations. He believes Optilift’s camera-based sensor technology can simplify the workday for the cargo handlers. “We have high expectations for this tool. At Seafront’s terminal, we handle over 50,000 containers each year, and each container is often moved several times, before it ends up on a truck or a ship. Each move operation requires the driver to punch in information twice; when the container is picked up and when it is placed. If this can be automated, we will save about half a minute on each moving operation. That amounts to valuable time and money saved over the course of a year”, says Hansen.