UK port welcomes first remote RTGs
The busiest container port in the UK has seen the arrival of its first remote-control rubber tyred gantry cranes (RTGs).
In a release, the Port of Felixstowe said the four new electric-powered pieces of lifting equipment, constructed in China by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries, constitute the first of eight similar machines to be delivered over the next few weeks.
The products, which were delivered to the Hutchison Ports facility by multipurpose carrier AAL Kobe, are set to serve Berths 8&9, where an extra 18,000 teu of container storage has been created to meet rising demand at the port.
RTGs in focus
The cranes have the ability to stack boxes 6-high to allow for more efficient use of a new yard area.
They represent an important step towards more remote working at the Port of Felixstowe, according to the facility’s operations director Robert Ashton, who added that remote working is set to provide advantages for customers as well as employees.
“For the drivers, the ergonomics are much better than a traditional operation,” he said.
“The physical stress to a driver’s back, neck and shoulders will be significantly reduced and the vibrations experienced as cranes operate will be eliminated altogether.
“Operationally, we will be able to deploy equipment more dynamically to meet peaks in demand, and locating operators, vessel-controllers and supervisors closer to one another will lead to improvements in alignment and communication.”
The port also said that two remote-controlled ship-to-shore gantry cranes are going through manual testing at the Port of Felixstowe prior to being deployed in full remote mode.
The port has previously been reported to be increasing capacity in preparation for the UK’s departure from the EU (Brexit).
In January, the BBC reported that the facility had made a deal with Danish ferry operator DFDS to boost roll-on roll-off capacity by over 40% to aid freight shipping following Brexit, and in March, The Guardian newspaper reported that DFDS Seaways will run additional crossings to Felixstowe.
In February, Bloomberg reported that container traffic at Felixstowe has the potential to receive a boost from Brexit.
That month, Port Strategy reported that the Port of Felixstowe was one of several ports set to benefit from Brexit funding allocated to local authorities in the UK.
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