Shiploader – Automation Solution

The thyssenkrupp shiploader full automation solution consists of 5 main features that can and should be implemented stepwise.

Collision Avoidance Module

The anti-collision module protects the machine from collisions with objects in predefined areas, especially the edges of the ships hatch. The objective is to assist operators and to reduce the risk of costly accidents that may cause major downtimes. A collision avoidance system is also a prerequisite for a save operation of a fully automatic machine.

The Collision Avoidance System (CAS) can be divided in 3 main subsystems:

  • For the chute, preventing collisions while operating in the hatch
  • For the main boom on the sides and below the boom, preventing collisions with structures on the ship
  • For the machine parallel to the rail, preventing collisions with other machines on the same rail

Loading Assistance Module

The Loading Assistance Module supports the operator by visualizing the most relevant process parameters. The goal is to improve operational awareness, thus reducing stress of the operator and improving the performance. The process parameters captured by the loading assistance module will in later stages be used for the automation of the system.

The Loading Assistance Module visualizes:

  • The precise position of the machine in relation to the ship and hatches (3D Hull Map)
  • Hatch content and material volume
  • Real time fill rate
  • Collision Scenery
  • Tracking of ship movements

Remote Control Module

The remote control module is the first step towards controlling multiple machines from one central control room. When installing the remote control module thyssenkrupp moves all relevant controls from the local / machine control room into a central control room. The operator than uses cameras and the newly installed loading assistance module in combination with the advanced collision avoidance system to safely operate the machines from a distance. Having all controls in one single location saves time and further reduces the stress of the operators.

Hatch Automation Sequencing Module

The hatch automation sequencing module builds up on the prior modules. It makes use of collision avoidance, 3D mapping and filling level sensors. By upgrading the automation control software, the solution enables fully automatic filling of the hatches of the ship. The system can actively react and adapt to ship motions by using redundant ship motion detection sensors. The hatch filling sequence or hatch path motion plan (e.g. central loading, layer loading, corner loading) can be preconfigured in the thyssenkrupp ship loading management system.

The goal of the system is to further reduce work load of the ship loader operator and to lower the variance in load distribution within the hatch (IMO Code). By automating the filling process, the overall performance increases while being more predictable.

The change of hatches remains a manual task of the operator.

Hatch ti Hatch Motion Automation

In this step thyssenkrupp will upgrade the machines control software in a way that it can make use of all available sensor data to fully automatically move between hatches. When moving from hatch to hatch the solution uses all three collision avoidance subsystems to prevent collisions with the ship or other obstacles. The system also actively reacts to ship movements by using the redundant ship motion detection system.

To be able to determine the exact number, location and geometry of the hatches the system automatically scans the ship structure with 3D radar sensors. Additionally, ship information need to be manually entered into the ship loader management system by an operator or via a ship data base (e.g. Loyds database).

Once the ship loaders chute has been automatically positioned in one hatch the automation system switches over to the hatch automation sequencing module to fill up on single hatch or parts of that hatch based on the ship loading plan.

Our digitalized expertise approach

We incorporate the knowledge of our very best engineers and process experts into our automation & data analytics algorithms. To achieve that, thyssenkrupp has built up a dedicated data science and automation team which uses state of the art technology for raising the bar in digitalizing mining & material handling machines.

This enables our customers to run their machines at the optimal productivity rates and under highest safety standards.

Digital: Data Analytics Ready
Collision Risk Reduction

Lowering Operational Costs

Performance Increase

Benefits of thyssenkrupp's Automation & Digitalization solutions

Upgrade your existing machines

All of our automation and data analytics systems are designed in a modular way, so that existing machines can be upgraded. To make sure our systems are compatible to existing equipment our experienced service team offers automation ready checks prior to every automation project. Depending on the age of the equipment some of the hardware like actuators or machine controls need to be upgraded.

Safety improvements and risk reduction

Autonomous operation is only possible under highest safety standards. For all moving machines we offer reliable collision avoidance systems, on one hand protecting employees and on the other hand costly collisions with obstacles.


Once a machine gets retrofitted with our modular our automation system, it is additionally capable for data analytics. Making use of state of the art machine learning algorithms insights into the behavior of a machine can be uncovered. This way it is possible to improve maintenance schedules, machine productivity and predict failures in advance.


Our engineers and process experts worked closely together with our programmers to find a way of autonomously operating machines in an optimal way. For example, by continuously measuring various environmental factors our system can predict upcoming load and proactively change machine control parameters in advance. This can lead to increase in throughput of up to 10% and at the same time reduce machine stress, which has a positive effect on the machines lifetime.

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