OCR is the initial automation module for ports to embrace (NST)

New Straits Times | 9 Apr 2019 | AYISY YUSOF | KUALA LUMPUR

Usaha Teknikal Sdn Bhd (UT) is taking advantage on the gradual local port operators’ move to embrace automation in their ports operation.

Its managing director Syed Sadiq Obaidi Albar said automation provides the workflow consistency and enhances labour competency to handle innovative technology, while creating a safer workplace.

“Automation improves operation efficiency with less human intervention to reduce error and cost. It is an effective method to maximise productivity, although initially it requires certain amount of capital to put in place the automation infrastructure,” he told NST Business in an interview recently.

UT mainly provides port and rail equipment and engineering solutions including prime mover, reach stacker, empty stacker and mobile harbour crane as well as maintenance and services.

Syed Sadiq said it was impossible for port operators to fully embrace automation, citing that automation is divided into different modules and OCR is a good stepping-stone for embark on automation.

“We are capable to provide the initial automation module, leveraging on the Optical Character Recognition (OCR), a system that uses multiple cameras to scan containers code at the terminal and automatically update the containers information.

“OCR can be operated remotely without human intervention. The system can be installed on quay crane at the ports,” he added.

Syed Sadiq said UT is currently partnering with ABB, a Swedish-Swiss digital technology company to build the OCR platform for the regional ports.

He is positive on the acceptance of OCR among the ports operators in the region, noting that the system is expected to launch in the third-quarter this year.

However, he said the system must be constructed specifically in accordance with the ports operator requirements.

“Malaysia should capitalise on its strategic location for ports industry, backed by the growing cargo handling in the region. Malaysia is also the primary route/hub for traders from West and the East,” he said.

Syed Sadiq said it is the right time for ports to consider automation in terms of OCR with the return on investment is within four years based on the current costs.

“As a result of OCR technology, ports can potentially reduce damage claims against them by about 50 per cent. More importantly, it improves the consistency of machine operations and potentially increases moves per hour,” he added.

He said the enhanced connectivity and strengthened infrastructure remain key enablers for business, trade and investment in the maritime sector.

“With our expertise in port equipment systems and port operations services, it allows us to tailor solutions to meet client needs,” he said.

UT sales director Alizi Ismail said the company would also keen to develop the Rail Mounted Gantry cranes (RMGs) with an additional automatic operation feature.

“We have the RMG fabrication ready design for the structure. But it is a matter of finding the right yards to fabricate the structure.

“We look forward to securing more orders of RMG that specifically suits the clients’ requirement,” he said, adding that cost varies depending on the ports sizes.

He added currently most local ports use the Rubber tyred gantry crane (RTG) in their operations to load containers from trucks or terminal tractors to the container block and vice versa.

He said the company is currently building its prototype “Rhino” terminal tractor with alternative energy power source for the ports handling operations.

Since its establishment in 2007, UT primarily involved in commercial activities including leasing port equipment, refurbishment and maintenance of port and rail equipment and automation projects in ports as well as research and development.

Alizi said the company’s key customers include Northport Malaysia, Penang Port Malaysia, Muara Port Brunei, Bintulu Port Malaysia and POIC Sabah Malaysia.

He said the company has secured major contracts this year including operations and maintenance of Gottwald MC1 and MC2 cranes, leasing and operations of MC3 Gottwald crane for the Penang Port; leasing of container equipment fleet and container quay crane refurbishment of the Muara Port Brunei; and the installation of OCR for the Westport.

Syed Sadiq said automation is a blue ocean strategy for the company to garner better and consistently recurring revenue in the next 10 years.

He also noted that the company’s asset based is growing with equipment leasing projects in Penang Port, Muara Port Brunei and the upcoming project in the northern region.

On its overseas ventures, he expects to procure crane refurbishment and automation projects in Indonesia and Brunei in 2018/2019.

News Article Source : https://www.nst.com.my/business/2018/04/355154/ocr-initial-automation-module-ports-embrace

Article Photo : Usaha Teknikal Sdn Bhd managing director, Syed Sadiq Obaidi Albar (left) with Usaha Teknikal sales director, Alizi Ismail concur that automation provides the workflow consistency and enhances labour competency to handle innovative technology, while creating a safer workplace. NST picture by AZIAH AZMEE.