MacGregor, part of Cargotec, and ESL Shipping Oy, part of Aspo Plc, have agreed to jointly develop and test an autonomous discharging feature on MacGregor bulk handling cranes. The system is designed to offer safety and efficiency advances, said MacGregor. The cranes will be fitted on board ESL Shipping’s two new LNG-powered Handysize bulk carriers.
“Autonomous crane operation improves efficiency and safety,” said Leif Byström, senior vice president, cargo handling at MacGregor. “Discharging operations can be monitored and controlled from the bridge and therefore eliminate the need for personnel in hazardous operational areas.”
Mikki Koskinen, managing director of ESL Shipping Oy, said: “Our new environment-friendly LNG-fuelled ships will be operated in very demanding trade with high numbers of voyages, port calls and crane operation hours annually. Autonomous operation will further increase our competitiveness and offer our clients unforeseen efficiency and safety.”
Byström continued: “We are very excited about collaborating with ESL on this development project. By combining the expertise of a forward-thinking shipowner and operator with our expertise in intelligent cargo handling, we can reduce unnecessary waste in the value chain and therefore develop safer and more efficient solutions for unloading bulk cargoes.”
The vessels are planned to enter service during the second quarter of 2018, when automation testing will commence.