Quay cranes at the container terminal of Valencia: One more step in Industry 4.0 thanks to the Monitoring Box
On course for destination Industry 4.0 – the operator of a Spanish port terminal joins the list of customers now using the Smart Data Solutions from SICK. MSC Terminal Valencia is taking advantage of Condition Monitoring to increase the availability and reliability of its quay cranes and thereby reduce downtimes. It also enables them to optimize the timing of maintenance work on the sensors.
A truly impressive sight at the Port of Valencia: Eight driverless quay container cranes move back and forward over a 770-meter stretch as if by magic. With great precision, each individual crane transports over 40 containers per hour from the ships to the terminals and vice versa. Sensors from SICK are contributing significantly to this automation in the wharf area. The 2D LiDAR sensors LMS1xx and LMS5xx, for example, enable processes to be automated even in harsh environments.
Influence of weather conditions on the sensors: maintenance on an as-needed basis
The conditions in the Mediterranean on the southeastern coast of Spain are actually harsh all year round: contamination from layers of sand or salt deposits impair the field of view of the sensor, heat and cold can impair the sensor technology. Regular inspections and maintenance are therefore an essential preventive measure.
“Flagship” MSC Terminal Valencia: a benchmark for global trade
With an annual turnover of over 1.5 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units), the MSC Terminal Valencia is an important logistics hub for the Mediterranean Shipping Company, which is the one of the largest container shipping lines in the world. As the rate of globalization increases, the international movement of goods is accelerating as well. Port terminals in particular are feeling the pinch, which is why they need to continuously improve their efficiency, digital networking and plant availability. When it comes to efficiency considerations, the catchphrase “Industry 4.0” looms large, just like the container looming overhead on the crane. So it’s good to know that the pioneering Smart Data Solutions from SICK can also be retrofitted to existing ports.
Web-based Condition Monitoring: continuous monitoring of the status of the sensors
The key to a sustainable foray into Industry 4.0 applications lies with the sensors, according to Max Dietrich. The Product and Application Manager Smart Data Solutions at SICK explains it this way: “Our sensors can deliver data that become all the more valuable the more we process them into relevant information and make them transparent.”
Until now, port terminal operators have been relying on their company-internal maintenance team to check and clean the crane sensors at regular intervals. “That costs us about a half a day of work per crane every 8 weeks”, explains Javier Campos, Maintenance Engineer at MSC. The big unknown in this, however, is whether the servicing on the difficult to access cranes might have been performed too soon. Was all that effort and expense really warranted at that time?
That is where Condition Monitoring, which helps ensure the correct functioning of the sensors, comes into it’s own. Using the data from the sensors, it is possible to monitor the sensor values and optimize numerous settings and processes. These digital services help to avoid unplanned downtimes of the cranes or in the yard area. This sounded very promising to Maintenance engineers at MSC Terminal Valencia: “The Monitoring Box on the quay crane makes the environmental influences on the sensors visible. We can monitor this information on the dashboard either retrospectively or live, and use it to develop a significantly more efficient maintenance schedule.”
It is also possible, for example, to receive an e-mail notification when a defined threshold is exceeded for a sensor. The current status of the sensors can, of course, also be viewed on the dashboard at all times. Downtimes due to the low availability of sensors or due to unnecessary cleaning and unplanned service deployments are a thing of the past now.
Innovative “lookout”: predictive maintenance offers a precise outlook for the future
“The Monitoring Box is, amongst other things, an easy-to-implement gateway with software building blocks“, explains Max Dietrich. “The TDC (Telematic Data Collector) is connected to the sensor on the quay crane via an Ethernet cable. Mounting the system is as easy as pie, even when retrofitting it.” All the necessary data is sent into the secure cloud in encrypted form via LAN, WLAN or mobile communications and processed there. The customer now has the ability to monitor many statuses in real time from a smartphone or on the desktop and compare them to those of other networked cranes. The maintenance team can intervene in a timely manner when required or schedule maintenance. Actions are no longer dictated by the calendar, but rather by the actual status of the sensors.
Moreover, SICK uses the recorded data to develop a forecast for the required maintenance. Predictive maintenance offers a glimpse into the future. It enables operators to know up to several weeks in advance what and when an event will occur and take suitable proactive measures.
Open and constructive collaboration with the experts from SICK in Spain
SICK Spain collaborates with MSC Terminal Valencia since more than 10 years. In strategic industries like Ports the specialized SICK local team closely works with customers on the optimal sensor solution. Thanks to this innovative IoT crane solution the predictive maintenance will be improved, and the downtime reduced. “It took no more than three weeks to implement the solution on the cranes”, remembers Javier Campos and Max Dietrich adds: “The right solution for the customer was found using a collaborative and agile development approach.” The customer will be paying an annual system license fee to utilize the digital services from SICK.
As confirmed by the Maintenance department at MSC Terminal Valencia, they were looking for an efficient, reliable and secure data solution, and SICK was able to offer us that combining technical expertise with individualized service.