Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 24-4 - 65

Vision-Based Measurement:
Actualities and Developing Trends
in Automated Container Terminals
Chao Mi, Yage Huang, Changhong Fu, Zhiwei Zhang, and Octavian Postolache
A
n automated container terminal (ACT) is a cutting-edge
type of container terminal that uses
automated equipment and sensors to achieve autonomous
applications such as container loading/unloading,
horizontal transportation, and yard operations. It has integrated
state-of-the-art sensing technologies, ensuring low
operating costs, high throughput capacity, and enhanced management
security.Vision-based measurement (VBM) is an
especially advanced technology that obtains richer surrounding
information from captured image data in comparison with
other technologies. Due to its great potential capabilities, it has
played a critically important role in ACT to realize productive
vision-based tasks, e.g., target recognition, positioning, and
geometric determination. This paper generally presents an
overview of a VBM system, typical applications of VBM systems
in ACT, as well as the challenges and future development
trends of VBM in ACT.
Automated Container Terminal
During the 21st century, global maritime trade has increased
rapidly. According to the UNCTAD forecasts, international
marine trade will grow at an average annual rate of 3.5% from
2019 to 2024 [1]. The rapid growth of trade volume requires
container terminals to increase their throughput capacity, and
the commercial competition between terminals also requires
them to reduce their costs to be competitive in the industry.
Therefore, an automated container terminal (ACT), which
uses automated equipment to improve operational efficiency,
has become the focus of research in the terminal industry. According
to Drewry shipping consultants and Port Equipment
Manufacturers Association, until mid-2019, 9.1% of all main
container terminals had been automated or semi-automated.
Thus, according to a report by Infiniti Research Ltd. [2], the
global ACT market is poised to grow by $1.04 billion dollars
(USD) during 2020-2024.
The concept of ACT first appeared in the 1980s, and there
has been significant advancements after decades of practice in
this field. Compared to the manual container terminal (MCT),
ACT uses automated equipment instead of on-site employees;
June 2021
thus, ACT improves work efficiency and increases the terminal's
throughput capacity. In addition, ACT can use digital
management systems to control dynamic scheduling of terminal
operations in real-time. For example, ACT can significantly
improve the efficiency of container handling operations by
optimizing the residence time of ships and availability of
transportation equipment. Meanwhile, the reduction of onsite
employees could reduce the occurrence of accidents and
labor costs, resulting in a significant decrease in total costs of
terminal operations. Fig. 1 shows the proportion of each cost in
MCT, of which labor costs usually accounts for more than 33%
of the total cost [3].
A typical layout of traditional ACT is illustrated in Fig. 2. It
comprises berths, terminal cranes (including quay cranes (QC)
and rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMG)), transport vehicles
(including automated guided vehicles (AGV) and container
trucks), yard blocks, gates, and lanes in the terminal [4]. There
are three types of operations in an ACT: container handling,
container transport, and yard housekeeping.
Container handling operations exist in both berths and
yards: QC (or RMG) are used to pick containers from cargo
holds (or yard blocks) to the transport vehicles and the reverse
process. Container transportation refers to the use of transport
vehicles to move containers between different locations. Transportation
in ACT usually uses AGVs, whereas transportation
Fig. 1. Manual Container Terminal Costs [2].
IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine
1094-6969/21/$25.00©2021IEEE
65

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