OCR grabs the world

OCR is the preferred technology for container and chassis identification OCR is the preferred technology for container and chassis identification

OCR systems have taken off in popularity throughout the world. According to the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association, there are 1,700 installations worldwide, while turnover is $50m a year and the rate of growth is 12%-15% a year

The most recent figures are from 2011, with the US accounting for 790 installations, Asia Pacific 544, Europe 244, Middle East 80, Latin America 51 and Africa 27. Assuming the same rate of growth, there are probably at least 2,500 sites now, but vendors say that the main growth market (as much as 25% a year) is the Middle East (an indirect result of the uncertain political situation), followed by Latin America (partly because of its growing trade links with Asia Pacific).

By type of application (2011 again), terminal gates totalled 577 sites, followed by truck portals at 447, STS quay crane 159, RMG/RTG yard crane 60 and Rail/intermodal 20. “OCR has been, and continues to be, the preferred technology for the container and optionally the chassis. It also serves as a low cost alternative to RFID for identification of trucks and other assets. Unlike RFID systems, where devices must be applied to equipment and readers installed, the use of OCR leverages existing labels or identifiers already on the equipment,” says PEMA.

Electronic seals are also becoming more widely used. As an indication, Uruguay maritime authorities report that 31,246 electronic seals were placed on containers, as well as 1057 on non-containerised truck loads, in the last two years.

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