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Design of an innovative system for the drive and control of port cranes for safe remote operation

Final Report Summary - SECURCRANE (Design of an innovative system for the drive and control of port cranes for safe remote operation)

The SECURCRANE project aimed to increase security of port cranes and improve working conditions and overall performance of human operators. As a result, the project would reduce the gap between the theoretical and real productivity of the equipment, which was mainly due to the operators' stressing working conditions inside the crane cabin.

The project developed a three-dimensional remote crane control system, which provided real-time information to operators. Moreover, the system included an anti-sway module (ASM) along with a cargo monitoring module (CMM) which retrieved additional data regarding the handled containers. Both ASM and CMM operated independently and did not require human interference.

The absence of efficient perception systems and fast-response effective anti-sway devices refrained large introduction of remote crane control up to date. SECURCRANE addressed two problems related to sway which affected operators’ behaviour, namely the stressing working conditions and the potential damages caused to intermodal units. Furthermore, the project established wide cooperation with the crane drivers' community.

The project consisted of five work packages (WPs) focusing on determination of functional requirements, design and development of modules, integration, testing and validation, evaluation and assessment of the system and, finally, dissemination of the acquired knowledge. Each of the three different modules was assessed in the laboratory, installed and tested individually. Then, the system components were interfaced and went under new tests for evaluation purposes. The project achieved its objectives and its outcomes could be industrially exploited in the near future.

The remote control module (RCM) consisted of two components located in the crane cabin and the remote operation room. Apart from being installed in cranes, RCM could be exploited in transport, logistics, security and defence. However, further refinement was required prior to developing a commercially exploitable product.

ASM was innovative compared to the available market alternatives, since it did not interfere with the operator manoeuvres. The module reduced cargo swaying, thus enabling the driver to focus on container hooking and proper positioning. ASM could also be applied on yard and civil construction equipment. Additional development concerned improvements of safety functionality and availability to operate in different conditions, such as fog, wind and varying sun light.

Finally, CMM consisted of sensors, mainly cameras, positioned in key-points on the crane structure, which were able to take proper pictures of each handled container from different points of view and angle-shots. The system prevented reimbursements to clients for damages occurred outside the terminal. CMM could be installed in various types of cranes and reached performances that surpassed commercial alternatives. Nevertheless, further development and industrialisation were necessary prior to its large scale exploitation.

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