CSX Carolina Connector fully automates ops with rail mounted gantry crane



Liebherr Container Cranes Ltd. has handed over three fully automated rail mounted gantry cranes (RMGs) to the CSX Carolina Connector Intermodal Terminal in Rocky Mount, North Carolina

The cabinless RMGs have been supplied with Liebherr remote operator stations for supervised moves and exception handling.

The models have a span of 165 ft. (50.292m), a lift height over rail of 50 ft. (15.24m) and cantilevered outreaches both sides with a safe working load of 40 long tons (40.6 tonnes). Within the span, the machines will work five rail lines and a four-high, five-wide container stack, with a further two rail lines under one of the cantilevers.

Truck handling will take place under the other cantilever in a dedicated truck transfer area. Container handling on the stack is fully automated and in line with terminal safety procedures, whilst picking and placing from the rail cars is carried out remotely using supervised moves. Truck handling employs a combination of manual and supervised moves. The RMGs will operate on both domestic 53’ wide top pick containers and ISO containers, handling single and double stacked rail cars.

An industrial data centre with redundant servers and a high-speed fibre network anchor the automated crane operations and communications. A 3D measurement system scans the operational area, continuously creating and updating profiles of container stacks, railcars and hazards, providing key data for path planning and automatic operation. ‘XYZ’ crane positioning is provided by Infrared spreader tracking, radio-frequency identification (RFID) gantry and trolley positioning technologies, further supported by encoders.

A proprietary obstacle generation and monitoring system is at the heart of the cranes’ automation. Built by a team of Liebherr engineers and based on decades of automation expertise by the Liebherr Group, the system has been tailored to precise customer requirements and works seamlessly together with the Tideworks TOS through a customer specific interface.

For safety, a ‘Yardeye’ system has been installed. This system monitors operational traffic, particularly pinmen vehicles in and around the RMG operational area allowing for safe operation.

The new cranes bring emission-free container handling to CCX. The automated RMG includes 3 dimensional stack and train profiling allowing optimal path planning and the most productive and efficient spreader path rather than the traditional approach of square moves. This approach increases productivity and throughput and also results in a further reduction of energy consumption. The Liebherr drive system with active front end and simultaneous motion allows power usage to be optimised on the crane and regenerated energy fed back to the grid.

Liebherr’s eight-rope-reeving system is inherently stable and ensures precise and faster final positioning times whilst the micro-motion controls ensure smooth remote driver operation when placing containers onto trucks.