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RFID Brings Safety to Spanish Port

TTI Algeciras' terminal uses RFID and RTLS to help locate shuttles and prevent collisions as they transport containers to and around unmanned mobile cranes as vessels are loaded and unloaded.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 11, 2010At the container terminal operated by Total Terminal International Algeciras (TTI Algeciras) at a Spanish seaport on the Strait of Gibraltar, radio frequency identification and real-time location system (RTLS) technologies provided by Identec Solutions are employed to track the locations of shuttles that drivers use to carry containers to and from vessels, thereby ensuring that the vehicles place the containers in the proper location, and that they are not at risk of colliding with other equipment. Both functions are critical, because some of the equipment that helps move the containers into and out of the terminal's transfer site is unmanned. In fact, the shuttle drivers are some of the few people on site.

TTI Algeciras describes its facility as semi-automatic—in other words, software controls which containers go to which location, using a combination of technology. While drivers operate the shuttles, they follow instructions from software that also controls the movements of the unmanned moving cranes, known as rail-mounted gantries (RMGs).

The terminal's fixed cranes have an Identec RFID reader mounted at each of their legs.

The company utilizes terminal operating system (TOS) software provided by Cyberlogitec to track the locations of 20 terminal shuttles as containers are unloaded from vessels, then are staged and reloaded onto other vessels or trucks. The Cyberlogitec software uses location data derived from RFID and Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) technologies. In addition, the software uses DGPS data to locate the RMGs, and subsequently the containers they carry.

The TOS software also utilizes DPGS data to help the terminal operator track each vehicle's location. However, DPGS units do not function under every condition. The large steel cranes and RMGs can obstruct satellite transmissions, making RFID technology necessary in order to ensure a shuttle never falls out of view of the software.

TTI Algeciras, owned by South Korean firm Hanjin Group, was built at the 81-acre Port of Algeciras in late 2009, with the company's RFID-based Transfer Point Management (TPM) system going live in May of this year. It took a mere five months from planning to full implementation, the company reports.

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