Winter 2015-16

A measured solution for terminal operators

Strainstall's innovative Container Weight System is attracting interest from container ports around the world as they face the IMO's July 2016 deadline.

When the International Marine Organisation (IMO) declared that by July 2016 every container must (by law) declare its weight before being boarded on to a vessel, it gave the shippers responsibility for weight verification. However, this is difficult to achieve before a container arrives at a port so many port authorities are now considering providing a means of weighing containers as a service to shippers. This service will also ensure port operations are not hampered or delayed by unverified containers.

The move has triggered a surge in interest for Strainstall’s Container Weight System (CWS) as a quick-fix solution which promises minimum impact on existing operations. CWS combines sensitive load cells which can be mounted on a variety of different container lifting or handling devices, with cutting-edge monitoring technology and wireless data logging. This combination means containers can be accurately weighed as part of their normal handling processes at the port, and the information wirelessly transferred to a laptop, handheld device, or wall-mounted display in the cab, as well as being sent directly to the Terminal Operating System.

Although CWS was originally developed 18 months ago, the team at Strainstall has been continually modifying and improving the system to suit ever-changing industry requirements. The team, comprising software developer Ben Gribble, working with electronics specialists, Tin Aye and Awga Aung, along with Strainstall’s load monitoring specialists, worked together to develop this market leading solution. Adrian Coventry, engineering director at Strainstall, who oversaw the development of CWS, explains one significant feature of CWS is its flexibility:

"Load cells can be installed – or 'retrofitted' – onto any form of lifting frame in less than two hours."

They can be configured either as industry standard twistlocks (the attachment mechanism which connects to the container), load pins in the headblock arrangement which connects the spreader to the lifting device, or diaphragm cells located at the twistlocks in the spreader. They can be fitted to any sort of container handling equipment such as reach stackers, straddle carriers, container handlers or gantry cranes. Adrian adds:

"The flexible CWS system eliminates the need for a dedicated weighing station and simplifies the logistical flow of the terminal, so increasing operational safety and efficiency. The system doesn’t only give an accurate measurement of weight, it also identifies eccentrically loaded containers or loose loads within the container, so further enhancing the safety of port operations."

This precisely meets the criteria set out by the new IMO regulations which are being introduced in a bid to reduce the number of container incidents caused by miscalculated or misdeclared weights. Now, not only has the accuracy of the load cells been refined, but the system has been configured to work hand-in-hand with SmartLoad® - Strainstall’s proprietary wireless weighing technology which enables very quick installation times and provides data in a wide variety of formats, both analogue and digital, to enable easy interfacing with existing terminal operating systems.

The latest CWS incarnation has been successfully trialled at Felixstowe and Southampton, but the immediacy of the IMO ruling has generated enquiries from further afield. Adrian concludes by saying:

"There is a massive global opportunity for CWS, we are talking to container ports all over the world which are keen to implement solutions for their ports before July next year." 

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