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ZPMC goes Smart for bulk

ZPMC has introduced its new Smart Solutions Group, and described its strategy for digitalising its bulk equipment handling business.

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ZPMC can automate bulk handling equipment, including stackers (pictured) and stacker-reclaimers
ZPMC can automate bulk handling equipment, including stackers (pictured) and stacker-reclaimers

ZPMC’s Smart Port Terminal Solutions Forum in Shanghai in November was attended by around 400 people. At the event, Zhu Lianyu, president and secretary of the Party Committee of ZPMC, and Huan Qingfeng, ZPMC president, presented the company’s new concept of working with partners to deliver “Smart terminals” for the port industry.


One of the main initiatives unveiled at the forum was a new “Smart Port Partnership” that includes products and services from Moffatt & Nichol, Navis and Microsoft as a “one-stop smart terminal solution” for new automated container terminals. ZPMC believes the Smart Port Partnership will enable it to deliver not just equipment, but a whole container terminal ecosystem under an EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) contract.


In the bulk materials handling systems market, ZPMC aims to deliver complete materials handling systems under the ZPMC brand, while using the same digitalisation strategy to deliver integration and maintenance services over the lifetime of its equipment.


In 2018, ZPMC plans to go live with the SAP ERP system, which Huan Qingfeng said will play a pivotal role in its wider digital strategy. ZPMC has also embraced “digitalised design and manufacturing”, and is using software applications to design its equipment. It is now moving to integrate this software with cutting and welding equipment, so more of the manufacturing process itself can be automated.


ZPMC is looking much wider than just equipment manufacturing. It wants to leverage developments in automation, artificial intelligence, Big Data, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing, to redefine its relationship with customers and transform the company from a crane supplier to an end-to-end Smart Port systems company. The concept is to use sensors and software on the equipment to generate data that ZPMC can then use to monitor and manage the maintenance and support of equipment over its full life cycle.


Dr Sun Bin, technical director of R&D for the ZPMC Smart Solutions Group, said ZPMC has developed its own “Bulk Terminal Automated Control System”. This includes all the software and integration necessary to make a bulk materials handling yard operate with whatever level of automation the customer requires.


The Bulk Terminal Automated Control System has several component parts. For stockpile planning and control, a Yard Profile Scanning System scans the pile and generates geographical data for the Yard Mapping System.


At the machinery level, an Equipment Control System, which ZPMC has developed in house, controls all the equipment. It can support different operating modes including manual machine control, remote control operation, and fully unmanned operation of shiploading and unloading, both stacking and reclaiming. Sensor systems include GPS for monitoring crane locations, and 2D and 3D laser scanners for profiling the stockpile.


As it looks to broaden its scope of supply, ZPMC has developed a Bulk Terminal Management Information System (MIS) to support the business needs of the terminal operator. This includes management functionality, such as asset management and cost control, as well as production statistics. In the yard, different software modules cover yard management and equipment management. At the berth, modules cover real-time monitoring and control of vessel operations, and berth scheduling and management.


In-house project


Dr Sun Bin stressed that ZPMC’s Smart Bulk Terminal is developed completely in-house, and, as one of the company’s new Smart products can be supported by other ZPMC initiatives. These include its new equipment monitoring centre in Shanghai, where ZPMC can provide 24/7 monitoring and support, as well as coordinating and managing the spare parts requirements necessary to support an automated materials handling yard.

ZPMC has delivered complete materials handling systems for several operators in China, and is looking to extend its customers base in this market. Earlier this year sister company CCCC Third Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. (a construction services company that also operates as a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Limited) won a contract for a dry bulk terminal for Zhejiang Petrochemical Co. Ltd (ZPC), valued at RMB780M. The project, which is to be delivered in 360 days, is located at Daishan, Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province.

More recently, ZPMC signed a contract with Rizhao Lanqiao Harbor Service Co. Ltd (RLHS). for the purchase of a complete handling system for its No.3 berth storage yard in the north operation zone of Rizhao Lanqiao Harbor District.

The project, ZPMC’s eighth general contract for a complete port bulk materials handling system, is an expansion project for a 300,000t ore dock handling system built in 2012. This latest stage will add two 9,600 tph stackers, two 3,600 tph reclaimers and 13 belt conveyors. ZPMC is also responsible for the power supply and lighting systems, control management system, water supply and drainage systems, fire protection system and auxiliary equipment.

When the expansion is complete and the new equipment is operational, the port ore handling system will be composed of three 3,200 tph unloaders, four 9,600 tph stackers, four 3,600 tph reclaimers and 28 belt conveyors. The terminal handles ore to both train and truck loading stations, and its total annual throughput capacity will be 30 Mt.

Rizhao does not, at this stage, feature equipment automation. However, this was under negotiation with RLHS when the contract was signed, along with upgrading the environmental protection equipment at the terminal.

In a separate development, the city of Rizhao has been considering the location of its coal facilities, as part of a wider urban development plan to transform Rizhao into an “International Ocean City”. In October, Rizhao port announced it had started the “Shijiu Port Area EastSouth Coal Transfer Project”, which will gradually move coal handling in the eastern part of Shijiu Port, which is close to an urban development zone, to the south of the port.

Some of the equipment, including car dumpers and stacker-reclaimers will be oved to the new south port area, but Rizhao Port has decided to upgrade the dust suppression system, applying the “latest dust control and dust suppression technique” in the new coal yard. It plans to have a pilot project for the new system installed by June 2019, and to complete the first phase of the transfer in mid 2020.

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