Airobot locates containers at largest European terminal

October 25, 2017  - By

A Belgian container terminal is about to become Europe’s largest, and GNSS technoloy will be integrated.

The MSC PSA European Terminal (MPET) in Antwerp, Belgium, is moving its operations from the Delwaidedock on the right bank of the river Schelde to the Deurganckdock on the left bank.

The move is part of an expansion of its capacity of 9 million TEUs annually. TEUs are a 20-foot equivalent unit, a term used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals.

When fully moved and operational, the left bank terminal will feature a total of 41 quay cranes across 10 berths, 200 straddle carriers and a quay length of 3,550 meters.

“For this project, we were looking for a positioning solution that was compatible with the solution that has been in use on the terminal since 2008,” said Douwe Witteveen, senior project manager at PSA MPET. “We need to accurately know where every container is picked up and dropped off without interfering with the actions of the driver. “Based on sensors in the vehicle, the GNSS unit must detect a pick-up or drop-off and provide a position to our system. Unfortunately, the receivers used previously were no longer available, so we needed to find someone who could make a new custom integration fast.”

Multipath mitigation copes with GNSS reflections caused by metal cargo containers. (Photo: Airobot)

Airobot was selected by MPET to create a solution, and did so in less than four months, said Jan Leyssens, managing director at Airobot.

The SC-PSA-GNSS unit integrates the AsteRx-m GNSS receiver from Septentrio NV and uses EGNOS to provide submeter accurate positions. The receiver has multipath mitigation technology on board to cope with the many GNSS reflections caused by all the metal containers, and combines GPS and GLONASS to provide a solution close to the quay cranes.

“We started discussions about the requirements in January and have delivered 100 units in less than four months’ time,” Leyssens said. “Fortunately, we have a lot of experience integrating GNSS technology into our drone solutions, so we could act fast. We also listened to the people in the field to make sure the unit is easy to install and existing cable installations could be used.”

“We believed that the know-how and expertise of the Airobot team could help us to get a solution fast, and they delivered what they promised,” said Douwe.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.