In a bid to leverage the new technologies to drive operational efficiency, APM Terminals announced the introduction of drones at its inland services facilities in San Antonio and Santiago, Chile, so that safety supervisors can monitor activities more effectively and safely.
Following the example of the mining industry, APM Terminals initiated testing of drones for safety in 2016 and, since then, drones have been used periodically to film the site's operations, monitor traffic flows and container stack efficiency as well as for observing unsafe behaviour, such as truck drivers leaving their cabins.
"Now operations can be documented and analysed from above, a viewpoint that was previously unavailable,"
...said Hector Espinoza, director for Latin America at APM Terminals' subsidiary Container Operators S.A.
Three drones are being operated, one in Santiago and two in the company's larger facility in San Antonio. Safety supervisors are able to focus on workshops and areas with less machine traffic. Other risks, such as high container stacks, are also monitored.
Earlier versions of the drone were only equipped with a camera but now each unit has sensors for night-time flying as well as a speaker to communicate directly with people on the ground.
As explained, the drones are guided by geofencing - a route map for flying. The pilot has a live-stream view, so he can make phone calls to the necessary people or even fly in and use the speakers to inform a truck driver that they need to get back into their truck.
"Since the arrival of the drones, visibility of terminal operations has improved considerably and 'hot spots', such as traffic flow, container stack efficiency and unsafe behaviour can be identified instantly,"
...noted Mr. Espinoza.
The drones can also perform previously dangerous tasks, such as rooftop and crane inspections. The management team in Chile has plans to systematically review all critical tasks using the drone, added Mr. Espinoza.
In maritime industry, drones are gaining more and more a position in maritime surveillance. The drone inspection has been identified as a way to save time and money and to enhance workforce safety, as many of the inspected areas are high risk and difficult to access safely.