Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 24-4 - 66

Fig. 2. Typical layout of an ACT.
capabilities. Consider the
radio frequency identification
(RFID)-based AGV
guidance system [5] as an
example, which is widely
used in ACT. This system
initially requires the installation
of the RFID tags
on AGV's movement path;
thereafter, the AGV could
position itself by scanning
the information of
RFID tags. However, the
RFID based AGV guidance
system cannot locate its position
without RFID tags
and measure the geometric
characteristics of objects;
thus RFID cannot automate
container operations
and is a reason for the limited
level of automation in
SACT.
Vision-based measurement
(VBM) technology,
outside the ACT uses container trucks. Yard housekeeping is
the use of RMG to arrange and change the location of containers
in the same yard. After this operation, the yard block will
vacate some storage locations for other allocation plans.
In some newly built ACTs, all of these operations are
automated. In container handling and yard housekeeping operations,
QC or RMG drivers can operate multi cranes in the
remote control room, because RMG, AGV, and QC are all automated
in this type of ACT. Such ACT include Shanghai's
Yangshan Port and Virginia's APM Terminal. The Shanghai's
Yangshan Port is the world's largest ACT, and its throughput
of containers reached 19.808 million in 2019.
In the initial ACT, owing to technical limitations, AGVs
were used to automate container transportation; the container
handling and yard housekeeping were still manual operations.
Owing to the limited degree of automation, this type of
ACT is known as semi-automated container terminal (SACT).
Typical SACTs include ETC Rotterdam port in the Netherlands
and Dammam port in Saudi Arabia.
The difficulties in automating container handling and
yard housekeeping are due to the complexity of these two operations.
Typically, there are three steps in the operation of
containers at the yard and berth. The first step is to record the
container information (container type and container number).
The second step is to adjust the position of the spreader to connect
it with the container. The last step involves moving the
container to the predetermined position. To use automated
equipment to accomplish this operation, the equipment is required
to have the ability to recognize the target and measure
the target's geometric characteristics, but classic sensors (such
as motion detector and collision sensor) do not provide such
66
which is used to acquire information from image data, has
seen rapid development and is extensively used in industrial
measurements, owing to the rapid and continuing advances in
image processing algorithms and image processing hardware.
VBM has become an indispensable part of terminal automation
equipment in the new generation of ACT.
VBM Systems and Their Algorithms
Vision Based Measurement
VBM is a technique that is used to acquire information from
image data. It has target recognition, positioning, and geometric
measurement abilities. In the measurement process, the
VBM system will first detect the measurement target from the
image and then measure the position or geometric information
of the target. This process is completely based on vision and
does not require contact with the target. On the basis of this feature,
VBM are also being used in a wide variety of automated
applications and scenarios as generic instruments to measure
and monitor physical phenomena [6].
VBM is significantly different from the other measurement
technologies that are based on classic sensors, and the
most significant difference is its target recognition ability. Fig.
3 shows a container number recognition system in ACT. This
system uses a camera to acquire the container image. Further, it
can detect the position of the numbers printed on the container
from the image and recognize the container number data. This
process is completely non-contact, allowing the camera to be
installed a few meters away from the container, and there is no
need for additional modifications such as installing RFID tags
on the container.
IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine
June 2021

Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 24-4

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