IAI unveils port container management robot

Ashdod Port  picture: Eyal Yitzhar
Ashdod Port picture: Eyal Yitzhar

The Israel Aerospace Industries system enables seaports to handle two or three times as many containers as now.

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) today unveiled an innovative robot container management and storage (RCMS) system for seaports. The system will facilitate more efficient management of storage space and operation of containers, with free and rapid access to each container before loading and unloading ships.

The system is so far confined to simulation clips produced by IAI. Huge spaces currently taken up by containers in seaports will become available. The containers will be stored in multi-storey buildings to be built near the loading and unloading platforms, and will be removed from and returned to the building by the robot system operated from the command and control center.

"The main problem at the world's major seaports is that they have no room to grow," IAI civilian robotics manager Ran Briar told "Globes" today. "The seaports that were built are surrounded by cities that arose around them. They are being smothered, while container traffic at all the seaports is growing at a 3-4% annual clip. Our system solves this problem by enabling the seaports to handle two or three times as many containers as can be put into them at present."

Loading and unloading of containers is performed simultaneously by an innovative robot system that saves significant personnel costs. The same work now done by hundreds of workers can be done more efficiently by just a few dozen - most of them operators sitting in the command and control room and maintenance staff.

"This is a significant change in the composition of the workers, because there will be less manual labor and more operation of technological systems. The building where the containers are stored is a "non-smart" building, but robot vehicles that can move from place to place and a system of elevators will make the difference. This is a revolutionary system that can make a substantial difference for many seaports, and influence the entire concept of shipping and storage throughout the world," Briar said.

The IAI system recently won contracts from the European Union Horizon 2020 Framework Program for Research and Innovation to lead a consortium in partnership with various companies, seaports, and academic research institutes all over Europe for the purpose of promoting the venture. IAI believes that an initial prototype of the innovative facility will be built within 30 months at a European seaport.

Components in the robot vehicles designed to transport the containers in the new system were developed in the framework of a different civilian robotics program at IAI - TaxiBot, designed for hauling passenger jets on the ground. This vehicle drags airplanes from where the passengers are collected on the terminal to the takeoff point, without the airplane operating its engines, which consumes large quantities of expensive jet fuel. Three TaxiBot vehicles are already used by German airline Lufthansa, after the system received a license for hauling narrow-body passenger airplanes last year.

Work on building infrastructure for initial trials of the IAI Skytran elevated traffic system began today, based on magnetic hovering technology. It is believed that initial trials of the system will take place in 2016.

These are civilian systems whose development IAI is leading, based on technologies and know-how developed for defense purposes. Through these conversions, IAI hopes to expand its sales in the coming years in civilian markets.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 29, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

Ashdod Port  picture: Eyal Yitzhar
Ashdod Port picture: Eyal Yitzhar
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