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Thread: Operators on Ship's Deck?

  1. #1
    Helmut Mayer

    Helmut Mayer

    Director and Principal Engineer

    Mayer International Group Pty. Ltd.

    Mayer International Group Pty. Ltd.

    Operators on ship's deck?

    With modern control technology, it is quite possible to fully automate the operation of ship loading and unloading machines. One of the difficulties with full automation is for the processor (PLC) to know accurately what the configuration of the ship is and where it is positioned and oriented in relation to the machine.

    Hence, a typical automatic operation still uses some manual input. For example, it has been done to give the operator a portable control console and to let him, or her, walk around the deck of the ship while monitoring and controlling the operation.

    This seems a good idea. Nevertheless, it is a newish sort of a method and has already produced new problems. For example, the ship's deck hands fear demarkation and sometimes disallow an operator onto the ship.

    Does anyone have experience with this kind of operation? What other problems have you experienced? Have you been able to get around them and how?
    Helmut Mayer
    B.E.-Aerospace B.Sc.-Psyc
    Director and Principal Engineer
    Mayer International Design Engineers Pty Ltd
    Specialist Engineering of Material Handling Equipment,
    Cranes and other Custom Machines

  2. #2
    agrico Guest

    Radio Controlled Shiploaders

    My company, Agrico Sales ( has built six radio controlled shiploaders. Our customers really like the concept and we have had no negative feed-back. They get a very good view of the operation and much prefer communicating with the ship's crew directly rather than by two-way radio.
    Frank Kelly
    Last edited by HelmutMayer; 16th December 2001 at 8:18.

  3. #3
    Author Guest

    Radio Controlled Shiploader

    Dear Mr Mayer,

    Our company is also supplying radio controlled remote controls with the
    shipunloaders. These controls are light weight and allow the operator to
    choose the best position on the deck to look at the operation of the
    unloading arm.

    In case of radio control interfearance the radio remote control can be
    connected to the control panel by a 4 wire cable.

    The unloading process is automatic and no other operator is needed.

    If the operator is not allowed to be on the deck, we provide a walkway next
    to the arm. See photograph.

    The walkway follows the movement of the unloading arm.

    Kind regards,

    Hans van Est
    Van Aalst Bulk Handling BV

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Author Guest

    Operator on Ship's Deck?

    In our shiploading process, we had a deckman who worked on the deck during loading. That was the way it was done from the beginning. We have been in operation since 1954 and it always took 2 people to load the ship. During the early 1990s, the operation was changed and now there is only the
    operator who loads the ship from the cab of the shiploader. The supervisor
    on duty for the shift, will from time to time, go on board the ship to
    monitor the loading process from that vantage point. We have not experienced any problems from ships crew from being on deck.
    Is the problem only with the crew of certain ships or with all the ships
    that call at that facility? Is there a conflict between the ship crew and
    the facility personnel? In the past, has the ships crew been involved in the
    loading process and are now being displaced with the automation? Were the
    changes discussed with the ships that call, so that they understood the
    reason for the change? If there were shifts in responsibility in the loading process, that could be perceived as threatening and therefore illicit the response that was given.

    Remove the barriers and perhaps the problems will correct themselves.

    Barry MacLean
    Dock Manager
    National Gypsum (Canada) Ltd.
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

  5. #5
    Author Guest

    Operator on Ship's Deck?

    In Antwerp deck hands cannot be directly involved in discharging of the
    cargo. Only supervisory tasks can be performed by ship's crewmembers. The
    operations need to be performed by "recognised" dock laboureres. As such,
    when the console is operated by a docklabourer, any automisation is

    In extraordinary cases, and after the necessary negotiations with unions, it
    could be achieved that a crewmember performs the job, assisted by a
    recognised dock labourer.

    Best regards,


    Paelinck Marc
    Port & Transport Consulting N.V.
    2180 Ekeren, Belgium

  6. #6

    Operator on ships deck

    We have used a radio controlled shiploader in Mussalo, Finland from 1996. Operators can control the loader from any position they like. Most popular place is ships deck when wheather permitting. Good visibility and east communications are main reasons for this.

    Jukka Muuri
    Steveco Oy, Kotka, Finland

  7. Operator on ship's deck

    Dead Sea Works Ltd have 4 shiploaders located in
    two ports (Ashdod and Eilat ).
    Many years the shiploaders are operated by operators
    from deck of ships.
    Operator's cabins were dismounted from the shiploaders.
    The training course for operators usually takes couple
    of hours.
    No problem at all.

    Michael Rivkin
    Technical Consultant

  8. #8
    minecom Guest


    Dear Sir,
    My company has also worked in the remote control of ship loaders etc. However while we have provided radio remote control equipment, we have specialised in the area of confined space communications. Radio or wireless communications in open space is easy, data communications in confined spaces, such as a ship is difficult. We use our technology to control ore trains in underground tunnels, no drivers, the PLC or PC controls the equipment, the driver as such is on the surface or in a control room some distance from the area of operations. We also provide technology for the tracking of products, equipment, containers, even to tracking the movement of the raw material from the time it is blasted in the mine through to the time it passes into the processing plant.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 05
    I work for a Cement Distribution Terminal on the Great Lakes as an Electrician/ Ship Unloader. We use a radio control box to operate our Siwertell from the deck of the ships, without problem from any of the ships crew. If you were asking about possible automation problems, I could only forsee a few. The ships we recieve move, and sometimes without notice. This is caused from weather, other ship traffic in the harbour, ballasting, sagging, and hog. With the machine we have, it would be very difficult to use sensing devices that would accomidate all of these uncertainties.

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