Cement handling is a challenging and unappealing task that is carried out by our equipment operators. These operators not only have to deal with harsh outdoor environment at the wharf side but also be able to operate the equipment in a physically demanding condition (especially the fine cement dust). The hazardous nature of the task means safety is paramount and our workers have to be constantly vigilant. Thus, to improve productivity and meet the evolving demands of our customers through innovation and technology, semi-automation of the cement unloader, operator cabin and multi-functional wheel loader were introduced gradually since 2019.
By developing algorithms to enable automatic operation of the unloader, the need for operators to control the entire unloading process is greatly reduced as the unloader can take a programmed path during the creaming stage. The operator also gets to operate the screw unloader, guided by sensors and cameras, in an enclosed cabin instead of on the wharf-side leaning over the hatch of the vessel. These improvements have significantly increased safety of operators and at the same time reduced the dependency on manpower and improved productivity.
In the trimming stage of cement unloading process, to address operational safety issues, the team developed a multi-functional wheel loader to automate and mechanise the cleaning of vessel walls, using sensor driven brush head and ‘quick change’ bucket attachment to collect fallen cement. Through automation and mechanisation, the multi-functional wheel loader significantly reduces the need for manpower required to clean the vessel walls, which leads to a reduction of more than 60% cleaning stevedores. The operator cabin of the wheel loader operator is also provided with positive air pressure to avoid dust ingress.
Decreased number of workers in the hatch and better working conditions will result in reduced safety risk in the vessel hatch. Said Parikshit Kulkarni, Assistant Vice President of Operations & Technology, “Even though the Cement Terminal is celebrating its 25-year anniversary of operations with a successful achievement of handling 100 million tons of cement, we will not rest on our laurels and will continue to explore how we can harness on technology to build resilience into our business.”
Jurong Port’s ‘Multi-Functional Wheel Loader’ solution was also featured as one of the best WSH practices and innovations at the WSH Awards 2021 microsite.