Ethernet for Brisbane container terminal

CrispTech Pty Ltd
Tuesday, 04 May, 2010

Patrick is Australia’s leading provider of port-related services to importers, exporters and shipping lines, Australia’s largest operator of container terminals, and the largest bulk and general stevedore.

Patrick has been actively engaged in commercialisation of its robotic AutoStrad Terminal, through its development company Patrick Technology & Systems. The AutoStrad terminal located at the Port of Brisbane is the world's first free-roaming stevedoring terminal, in which 110-ton AutoStrads remotely transport shipping containers between ship-to-shore cranes and road trucks. It is also the largest heavy-industry robotic site globally, and operates in a 24 hour/7 days a week maritime environment that places high environmental and reliability demands on equipment and systems.

Patrick's continued focus on improving terminal productivity has brought about its latest innovation - the Remote Control Operator Station (RCOS). The RCOS involves the relocation of existing operators at terminal truck grids over 500 m away into one control centre. Operators remotely control an AutoStrad to pick and place containers with an accuracy of 25 mm. This is not a small feat, given that this accuracy is required over a site more than 1 by 0.5 km in size. To meet the demanding operational requirements of the RCOS project, the data networking equipment had to guarantee:

  • High-temperature operation
  • Long operating hours
  • High bandwidth
  • High reliability
  • Low latency

These requirements pushed the limits of current technical knowledge and equipment capabilities. Crisptech was engaged by Patrick to provide a range of industrial communication technologies and to deliver the necessary technical expertise and product performance to meet the exacting project demands.

Crisptech supplied a range of equipment manufactured by Moxa. Moxa’s VPort 354 industrial video encoders are installed on every AutoStrad to achieve real-time visual management. The devices feature high video resolution, wireless tolerance, low latency (less than 200 ms from photon capture to visual user display across a wired network) and real-time video for events, making them the best choice for Patrick’s application.

Moxa’s EDS-510A series industrial gigabit ethernet switches are also installed inside every electrical cabinet near the loading grids, to ensure maximum network availability and redundancy. The main features of the switches are:

  • Remote management
  • Redundant fibre links
  • Multiple UTP ports with VLAN functions
  • DIN rail mount and various voltage inputs
  • High humidity and high temperature operation from -40 to 70°C.

In addition, extra ruggedised features were also required for the switches in this application. Two ethernet ports and dual power inputs were offered for redundancy as well as an IP30 metal casing, to maximise reliability in this mission-critical automation environment.

Other equipment supplied as part of the network was Moxa PT-7728 Series power station grade ethernet switches, and Moxa Nport 5150 and 5210 device servers.

CrispTech is proud to have had the opportunity to assist with the development of the world’s largest robotic AutoStrad project with Patrick. The trial stage consisted of 12 months of working hand in hand with the Patrick Technology & Systems Engineers, testing and refining product software to address any technical challenges as they arose.

Patrick’s Automation Manager Robert Davie said: “Service was always at hand, and solutions to problems were resolved quickly and with certainty. CrispTech showed an understanding for the demands of this project, by recommending the correct products from the start.”

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