PressurePro™ Automates TPMS for Lyttelton’s Straddle Carriers

The world leader in Commercial Tire Pressure Monitoring technologies has officially announced the completion of several upgrades to their product line of advanced condition of tires on its straddle carrier container handling equipment. The New Zealand port operator has implemented the new system as an extension of its existing investment in CTAS, Identec’s real-time fleet management and process automation platform for container port and terminal operators.

As installed at LPC, the Identec Solutions CTAS tire management system (TMS) uses PressurePro’s heavy-duty 10 Wheel Monitor to continuously capture and record tire data, including automatic alarms for low or high pressures and temperatures. The sensors, which are fitted to the valve stem of each straddle carrier tire, can read pressures from 10 to 199 psi, with data displayed in psi, bar or kPa. Information from the PressurePro monitors is integrated into CTAS via the straddle carriers’ PLC controls and is displayed on the Fuel/Tire dashboard of the CTAS Fleet Management software module. This allows LPC maintenance and engineering staff to remotely track, manage and analyse the performance of individual tires and machines.

A special feature of the LPC system is a “limp home” safety mode. When a low pressure tire is identified, CTAS sends a signal to the straddle carrier PLC to automatically restrict the speed at which the equipment can be driven. At the same time, drivers receive a “Return to workshop” message on their CTAS cabin display unit. This ensures that drivers cannot continue to operate equipment normally until the fault has been properly checked and rectified by maintenance staff.

LPC has so far installed CTAS TMS on 4 new Liebherr straddle carriers commissioned earlier this year, with an option to roll the system out across its existing fleet of 18 Kalmar straddle carriers in the future. The TMS technology was factory-fitted and Identec Solutions worked closely with Liebherr to ensure successful mechanical and electronic integration of CTAS and TMS components during equipment production and on-site commissioning. As part of the project, Identec Solutions is also collecting shock data from straddle carriers and spreaders, which is transmitted to the equipment PLCs to assist with overall diagnostics and trouble shooting.

LPC is New Zealand’s third-largest deep water container port, and the largest in the South Island. Container trade through the port has grown by more than 20% in the last two years, as Canterbury rebuilds following the earthquakes of 2010-2011, and has surpassed 350,000TEU during the 2013 financial year. With container volumes expected to double in the next 8-10 years, LPC is now investing over NZ$16 million (€9.6 million) in new handling equipment and supporting technology such as CTAS TMS.

Previously, LPC’s tire pressure management process was completely manual, relying on maintenance staff to perform regular field checks. As a result of its investment in CTAS TMS, the port now expects to save on maintenance labour and fuel costs, as well as improving operator safety.

LPC was already using the CTAS platform for vehicle access control, remote fuel management and equipment shock monitoring and says that it “made good sense” to adopt the tire monitoring module within CTAS rather than investing in a separate system. “With our existing investment in the Identec CTAS system, this additional technology and functionality could be implemented to our straddle carrier fleet in a phased process with minimal disruption and cost,” said Ray Welten, Purchasing Manager at LPC. “With the latest improvements and accommodation of various custom requirements for this project, the extended performance and functionality which the CTAS system will now offer is expected to greatly reduce operational costs and improve efficiency.”

“Worldwide, tires are among the largest contributors to vehicle maintenance costs and the port sector is no exception,” said Michael Dempsey, GM Ports & Terminals for Identec Solutions. “Under-inflation is the main culprit, creating safety hazards, increasing fuel consumption and emissions and leading to premature ageing.” US studies on commercial vehicle maintenance have calculated that just 10% under-inflation reduces tire life by 11%, while 30% under-inflation causes a 40% drop in tire life. “With tires playing such a vital role in cost, fuel, safety and operational efficiency, Identec Solutions is pleased to have been able to partner with Liebherr and Advantage PressurePro, both leaders in their respective fields, to develop this integrated monitoring solution for Lyttelton Port of Christchurch,” added Mr. Dempsey.