APM Terminals’ (APMT) Inland services facilities in San Antonio and Santiago, Chile, have begun using drones to monitor safety and drive operational efficiency.
Previously, safety supervisors at these faculties monitored activities on the ground.
Hector Espinoza, director for Latin America at APM Terminals’ subsidiary Container Operators S.A., said: ““Our safety supervisors are the ones tasked with keeping the people and activities at our facilities safe, but by doing their jobs next to container stacks, trucks and other machinery, they were exposed to the highest risks.”
He continued: “I knew the mining industry was having success with drones for safety, so we started testing it out.”
Now operations can be documented and analysed from above, a viewpoint that was previously unavailable, noted a statement from APMT.
Three drones are being operated, one in Santiago and two in the company’s larger facility in San Antonio.
Safety supervisors are able to focus on workshops and areas with less machine traffic, the terminal operator added, while other risks, such as high container stacks, are also monitored.
All visitors to the terminal are required to agree to the facility’s safety policies, which outline the rules in force as well as the presence of the drone.
Earlier versions of the drone were only equipped with a camera but now each unit has sensors for night-time flying as well as a speaker to communicate directly with people on the ground.
The drones are guided by geofencing – a route map for flying. The pilot has a live-stream view, so he/she can make phone calls to the necessary people or even fly in and use the speakers to inform a truck driver that they need to get back into their truck.
The drones can also perform previously dangerous tasks such as rooftop and crane inspections.
Espinoza added: “Blind-spots between high-density container stacks now are totally visible from a bird’s eye view.”
The management team in Chile has plans to systematically review all critical tasks using the drone, he stated.
Meanwhile, APMT expects to roll out similar drone projects at other locations.