COFASTRANS is an overall concept to enable faster loading and unloading of ships in container ports. This is much needed in order to maximise the benefits of deploying the new generation of much larger container vessels. Although handling systems in container terminal are advancing rapidly, especially through automatic computerised systems, this is all still based on berth layouts that have not significantly changed since the start of containerised ocean transportation in the 1960s.

New and very much larger container vessels are continuing to be introduced on the world’s main shipping routes to increase efficiency and to bring down costs. But this also requires faster ship handling in ports, to gain all the benefits of this huge investment. Currently, the industry standard procedure for port expansion is to extend berth lengths with straight line additions and ever larger cantilever cranes. However, this approach is not efficient because the crane trolleys have to move faster just to unload at the same rate as before now reaching to containers across the wider ship. Already speeds of movement within modern cranes are at levels that make it difficult to achieve any increase. Extremely long line of ship berths are themselves inefficient in terms of traffic management and, depending on the location, can be environmentally damaging. Ports have simply grown by evolution into much larger versions of the same concept and have now been left behind in the challenge to provide a more efficient, faster and more environmentally friendly link in the supply chain.

By contrast, the new COFASTRANS arrangement can provide the step change in cargo handling performance that is needed to meet the shipper’s expectations. COFASTRANS solves this problem by positioning the ship, which is the biggest and most valuable single element in the overall terminal delivery system, at the heart of the central working area. This is surrounded by port operations with direct access to the shoreside container stacks on both sides of the ship, thus giving direct access to the quayside with twice the area available for landing containers. This compares with the conventional arrangement where vessels are at the periphery and restricted to access over only one side.

The indented berth layout opens the way to relieve the quayside congestion that has been building up in recent years, providing twice the area available for landing and loading containers to the ship. The innovative new portal crane makes this possible and, with 4 hooks per crane, places up to double the number of lifting spreaders over the ship, with the average trolley travel distance over the vessels halved. This will result in substantial reduction in ship time in port, as well as improved land utilisation, often in environmentally sensitive areas

The innovative new crane is comparable in size to the existing ship-to-shore gantry cranes but inherently more robust as they are based on a portal, rather than a cantilever structure. Furthermore, the shorter moving distances will enable lower speeds of operation, thus reducing stresses and providing longer life for the components. This can further be enhanced by synchronising the lifting cycles of the two trollies on the same crane beams.

The COFASTRANS system is well suited to automation. It is expected that all currently adopted automated activities can be accommodated within the system.