French manufacturer announces all-electric and hybrid power packs plus robotic unit as part of continued development for its Automotive Terminal Trailer system
Gaussin Manugistique® SA, designer and manufacturer of industrial and port transport vehicles, has announced extensive additions to its container-handling Automotive Terminal Trailer (ATT®) system, including new environmentally-friendly power options and a prototype unmanned version, dubbed the Automotive Intelligent Vehicle (AIV)®.
Launched in 2011, and under continuous development since, the ATT is a self-propelled, modular alternative to the traditional tractor-trailer combination used for moving containers in and around terminals. ATT units are equipped with a removable power pack, which drives a lightweight cabin mounted directly onto the trailer’s front axle. The new products and upgrades introduced late this June at the TOC CSC Europe event now further expand the choices available to users.
New energy efficient power options include the Full Elec Power Pack, developed with technology partner the LITEN Institute for New Energy Technologies and Nanometerials, part of CEA, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. Based on lithium-ion battery technology, the all-electric power pack can operate for up to 12 hours before recharging, a process that takes 2 hours. Gaussin says that it will cost just €2 an hour to run an ATT or AIV fitted with the Full Elec Power Pack, making it competitive both in cost and environmental terms, especially in parts of the world where diesel prices are increasing sharply. Environmental benefits include no emissions and the elimination of generator noise. The new battery has a predicted lifecycle of 5-7 years, with a lightweight 2 to 4 tonne design and zero maintenance requirements.
Gaussin has also just released its Hybrid Power Pack as a full commercial product. Another outcome of the company’s co-operation with CEA-LITEN, the Hybrid version combines a small diesel engine with an electric generator to allow for operation in either power mode. The two new power units join the original ATT Diesel Power Pack. A fourth option, the Hydrogen Power Pack based on fuel cell technology, is also in development with CEA-LITEN and is scheduled for full commercial launch at TOC Europe 2014, taking place in London next June.
Individual users’ choice of power pack will depend on a range of local and national factors, notes Gaussin, including the cost of diesel, stability of the electricity grid and availability of qualified maintenance staff. “One of the biggest advantages of our Lego® philosophy is that power packs are independent and can be easily interchanged in just a few minutes, ” explained Gaussin CEO Christophe Gaussin. “So for example, you could have a fleet of 50 ATTs with a mix of Full Elec and Hybrid power packs that you mix and manage to optimise energy costs, CO2 emissions and noise during day and night operations.”
Exactly the same modular principal applies to the robotic AIV unit, which is being developed together with the CEA-LIST Institute for Smart Digital Systems. Utilising GPS, LiDAR laser sensor and other smart navigation technologies, the AIV will offer a driverless alternative for the transport of 20ft, twin 20ft, 40ft and 45ft containers. The unmanned version is now undergoing prototype tests by Gaussin and is also being put through its paces by CEA-LIST, with a view to full commercial launch in 2014.
The AIV will work with the same Power Packs as the manned ATT, facilitating the transition to automation for existing ATT users and providing new users with a flexible choice of power sources. The company has already signed an MoU with an un-named client for 50 AIV units complete with its Docking Station© and Lift System©, another new initiative
Gaussin’s dock and lift systems will allow terminals to fully ‘decouple’ quay and yard operations for improved productivity and asset utilisation. Installed at the waterside and/or landside edges of container storage yards, the Docking Station provides a buffer zone where 20ft, 30ft, 40ft and 45ft are deposited off the ground, allowing the ATT, AIV or yard crane to immediately move onto other tasks. The system includes an inductive wire guidance system for precise positioning of ATTs and AIVs when dropping or collecting a container.
The Lift System, which can be used with ATTs or AIVs fitted with any model of Power Pack, uses the trailers’ axle cylinders to raise and lower the chassis for picking and placing containers on the Docking Station. The entire operation is performed automatically, without any need for driver intervention other than acceleration and deceleration.
Originally introduced as a concept this January, the Dock and Lift technology will be commercially available from late July and a number of clients have already signed up for live tests. Demonstrating an AIV equipped with Full Elec Power Pack and Dock and Lift System at TOC Europe 2013, Gaussin said that the new technologies combine to offer a fully-automated and electrified solution for container transport.
Alongside the new product launches, Gaussin has made 17 improvements to its manned ATT design, now in its fourth version. Key upgrades to the ATT V4 include a new smart hydraulic suspension system, which automatically adjusts itself according to container weight and ground conditions; a new design of suspended cab for better driver comfort; reduced vehicle height due to a more compact Power Pack; the installation of cameras to let drivers see boxes being placed onto the chassis behind them; and a new ‘talk to crane’ function. .
Talk to Crane establishes a wireless connection with the ship-to-shore crane to ensure precise alignment of the ATT for twinlift, tandem or tridem operations. Gaussin notes that existing customer APM Terminals Tangier is now achieving 32-35 berth moves per hour following implementation of the talk to crane function.
“Terminals today face multiple cost, productivity and environmental challenges, ” said Christophe Gaussin. “Our entire strategy is focused around innovative technology to address these needs both in manned and automated operations by helping to reduce emissions and noise, as well as improving energy costs, asset management and handling performance”.