Universal container reloading and moving machine and identification system development

The project aims to develop a 40-foot long container loading and reloading crane, in a lateral motion, avoiding lifting and including its control and automation system. The final scope is the modernisation of road and railroad container transport, making it more safer and cost-effective.

The project starts with market research and data collection on already working similar systems as well as overseeing technical solutions. The consortium will work out the concept of a newly developed machine, and research will be done to find out how the market will react to this new product. The main task of the crane is to carry out the container loading/reloading to/from trucks and railroad wagons. The transaction is executed in such a manner as to avoid lifting, making the crane usable even on electric railways. The containers are exchanged between marshalling yards, trucks and railroad wagons. The loading/reloading process is as follows: identification of container, approaching the target using sophisticated object search algorithms, catching the container after optical finding of fastening handles, loading the container and finally unloading at target position. The identification will be done using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which constitute one part of this project, while recording of transport orders will be done using high level SQL (Structured Query Language) software, providing up-to-date information for higher hierarchical levels, building up a modern and complex logistics system. Built-in and mobile RFID tag readers will be used for a more flexible identification procedure. The fixed RFID readers will be placed among railway roads, which will be able to register transported containers on-line, extending the usability of the system. The train transporting containers for unloading will be redirected to a lane parallel with the crane, and RFIDs will point the container to unload. An additional display will also be available, allowing for monitoring the container and its content. The crane automatically selects the respective wagon and re/unloads it automatically. For load localisation we are going to develop a new local positioning system (LPS) based on high frequency radio wave position determination. This method, as an alternate positioning, has no precedent in industrial applications, and involves a lot of research. To not risk the success of this project, an RFID localisation will also be introduced which can give poorer results in precision and localisation time, but represents a proven and available technology. Mobile identification terminals should be used by personnel for manual handling of containers. This way the transport tracker database can be kept up-to-date even if the automatic handling is omitted. Automation and control development: the two-component assembled crane moves on rails, with electrical drive and hydraulically operated valves and actuators, and is able to handle 10-38 t weight containers. Despite its robustness the system allows gentle movement with accurate positioning. In the actual construction, the operator, based on his/her experience and skill, does the catching and lifting of the container. The current project also aims at the development of a sophisticated object recognition camera system, which automatically finds the catching handle, and drives the crane to the loading position. This part of the project starts from the research phase, because there is no similar working system on the market. The accurate, gentle and real-time control of the crane is a high-level automation and regulation task. The distance measurement is realised with a laser beam measurement system, relative to well-defined reference points. Mechanical engineering: The automation development of the system has an influence on the existing mechanics too. Sensors, fittings and other mechanical parts should be changed, renewed and reassembled. The actual manual commanded crane was tested in railway stations, which presented some strict constraints in overall testing process. To avoid this inconvenience the participating parties have decided to create an environment for testing the development results. The development and manufacturing of models will be achieved in two steps. The first step aims at the production of independent parts, such as mechanics, automation and an object recognition system, while the second step consists of building these components together into a complex and working machine. The working sample also contains the identification solution with RFID, some local positioning systems, and the necessary interfaces for connecting to the complex SQL database based logistics software. The built-in database interface provides further possibilities for developing complex logistics software for tracking and accounting of transported containers. The railway companies, whose employees will handle the RFID tags and use the RF identification devices, will provide the RFID service according to our plans. The RFID tags are reusable and have enough working memory to store all the information needed for full tracking and accounting of containers.
UCRM System
Project ID: 
4 467
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
870 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Transport and Shipping Technologies
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.