APM Terminals has highlighted how it is using drones at its Chilean facilities for security and to drive operational efficiency.
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. Other risks, such as high container stacks, are also monitored.
Earlier versions of the drone, in operation since 2016, 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 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.
“Since the arrival of the drones, visibility of terminal operations has improved considerably and hot spots, such as traffic flow, container stack efficiency and unsafe behaviour can be identified instantly,” commented Hector Espinoza, director for Latin America at APM Terminals’ subsidiary Container Operators.
The drones can also perform previously dangerous tasks such as rooftop and crane inspections. “Blind-spots between high-density container stacks now are totally visible from a bird’s eye view,” Espinoza said. The management team in Chile has plans to systematically review all critical tasks using the drone, he said.
This low-cost initiative to reinforce the company’s commitment to safe operations is expected to quickly catch on at other APM Terminals’ locations.