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So fine, in fact, that ECT is planning to expand the family.
The Delta/Sea-Land experience shows how port-side robotics can move the supply chain along faster. But it also shows how elusive payback can be when it comes to footing the bill for space-age technology.
The summer of '94 was a tough one for Rotterdam's robots.
But then, it was a tough summer for everyone else in Europe.
Record-breaking temperatures hovering between 95 and 100 degrees Farenheit for much of July and August tested the mettle of all those having to do a hard day's work outdoors, even the robots which had presumably been designed to withstand all manner of atmospheric conditions. Except extreme, long-lasting heat.
Designers of Rotterdam's computer-driven, container-carrying driverless chassis, formally known as Automated Guided Vehicles, or AGVs, contemplated the worst of foul weather the North Sea could deliver. What they didn't contemplate was heat exhaustion.
But when the temperatures soared too high for too long last summer, the AGVs simply stopped working.
"They were almost human," recalled Rob J.M. van Eyndhoven, director of the Delta Container Division of Europe Combined Terminals by, owner of the AGVs.
The problem turned out to be a relatively simple mechanical one to correct, an improvement to the AGV's fan system.
"Now the terminal is running fine," van Eyndhoven said.
Getting The Bugs Out. It's been a little over a year since the world's most technically-advanced container-handling facility began serving its sole customer, Sea-Land Service. (Sea-Land's vessel-sharing partners also use the terminal, but the terminal lease is exclusively Sea-Land's).
It's been a time to get the bugs out.
Surprisingly, given the fact that much of Delta/Sea-Land's robotic technology had never been adapted for such complex tasks out of doors, there haven't been all that many bugs to banish. But there have been some birds.
A quick trip around all of ECT's facilities on the Maasvlakte, the outermost tip of …