Electric Rubber Tired Gantry Cranes (E-RTG) are highly sophisticated machines, operating in container terminals around the world. Instead of being restricted to moving on a track the E-RTG crane is able to straddle multiple lanes on its rubber wheels, securing maximum mobility and speed. However, the crane’s flexibility has a downside: how do you provide stable power supply? As long as it moves along container corridors the crane can be powered via conductor lines or motorized cable reels. But outside the corridors it has to rely on “onboard” power.
So far diesel generators have done the job, but now container terminal operators are looking for more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives. To meet this demand, the German company Conductix-Wampfler, a world leader in data and power transmission, has designed hi-tech battery systems mounted in a container directly on the crane. These battery systems are sophisticated devices packed with hi-tech components that need to be monitored by sensors to secure flawless operation and maximum uptime. And, as the cranes are scattered in container terminals around the world - remote monitoring should be possible done from a central location in Germany. In order to roll out such a remote monitoring solution on a global scale, a global connectivity infrastructure is required, the cranes being on the edge of the network and a web portal in its centre, located with the operator monitoring the equipment.
PROFINET in combination with DATAEAGLE 7050, an industrial radio IoT Edge Gateway (Schildknecht AG) managed to successfully implement the solution for this demanding application. On the input side, this gateway receives up to eight sensor signals via Bluetooth Low Energy interface and / or it connects via fieldbus interfaces for wireless data transmission like PROFINET. On the output side is mobile radio with 2g, 3G or 4G. After pre-processing, the gateways send the data via radio communication to a cloud portal for immediate visualization and analysis. The gateway has an integrated eSIM card with worldwide flat tariffs. Some of the problems to be solved came from the cranes themselves: they are continuously in motion, and on top of that, the gateways in the battery systems are surrounded by metal. Therefore high performance radio communication technology is required to secure dependable and stable data transfer.
Conductix-Wampfler has equipped a number of E-RTG crane battery systems with remote monitoring technology developed in collaboration with Schildknecht including PROFINET to cloud communication with DATAEAGLE 7050 Edge Gateway. Evaluating the results both partners are confident that they have succeeded in securing a stable global data transfer in a harsh environment. And on top of that the portal presents measurement data in an accessible way, giving monitoring personnel a quick and intuitive overview of the condition of the globally scattered machinery; the project has evolved into a promising Industry 4.0 business model.