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Title:
AN IMPROVED CARGO CONTAINER SCANNING CRANE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2006/085949
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A mobile cargo container handling buffer crane having a bridge crane mounted thereon for transferring cargo containers between a ship and land transportation with nonintrusive inspection apparatus located at an intermediate transfer position past which a suspended container can be longitudinally reciprocated and thereby noninvasively inspected.

Inventors:
TAKEHARA, Toru (1796 Los Altos Drive, San Mateo, California, 94402, US)
ICHIMURA, Kinya (854 Amdromeda Lane, Foster City, California, 94404, US)
TAM, Phillip, A. (6400 Christie Ave, Emeryville, California, 94608, US)
Application Number:
US2005/021813
Publication Date:
August 17, 2006
Filing Date:
June 20, 2005
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PACECO CORP. (3854 Bay Center Place, Hayward, California, 94545, US)
TAKEHARA, Toru (1796 Los Altos Drive, San Mateo, California, 94402, US)
ICHIMURA, Kinya (854 Amdromeda Lane, Foster City, California, 94404, US)
TAM, Phillip, A. (6400 Christie Ave, Emeryville, California, 94608, US)
International Classes:
B65G67/60
Foreign References:
JPH10310368A1998-11-24
US5754617A1998-05-19
Other References:
See also references of EP 1765702A2
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
McCOY, Ernest, H. (One Kaiser Plaza, Suite 750Oakland, California, 94612, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:

WE CLAIM:

1. A mobile cargo container scanning crane comprising

a wheel mounted platform formed for independent movement in a quay area, said

platform having at least a first predetermined buffer container deposition position

located thereon where a cargo container can be located for pickup or deposition by a

quay crane,

a bridge crane mounted above said platform and arranged for engaging and

suspending or depositing and releasing a cargo container at said first predetermined

position on said platform, said bridge crane also arranged for moving a container

between said first and a second predetermined position disposed below or alongside said

platform, said bridge crane further arranged for depositing a container onto a truck trailer

chassis or for engaging and raising a container to said platform height from a truck trailer

chassis disposed below or alongside said platform at said second predetermined position,

and then moving and depositing said container onto said first predetermined deposition

position, and

a container scanning inspection apparatus mounted on said platform between said

first and second predetermined positions and formed to nonintrusively inspect a container

transferred by said bridge crane between said first and second predetermined positions.

2. The mobile cargo container scanning crane of claim 1 wherein said first

predetermined buffer landing position includes a multiple thereof to permit said scanning

crane to function as a buffer crane.

3. The mobile cargo container scanning crane of claim 1 which includes

a floor having an opening above said second predetermined container landing

position through which containers are lifted from said second predetermined position and

transferred to said first predetermined position, and

a sliding horizontal shield to cover said opening when said scanning apparatus is

operating.

4. A mobile cargo container scanning buffer crane comprising

a wheel mounted platform formed for independent movement in a quay area, said

platform having a multiple of predetermined buffer container deposition positions located

thereon where one or more cargo containers can be located for pickup or deposition by

a quay crane,

a bridge crane mounted above said platform and arranged for engaging and

suspending or depositing and releasing a cargo container disposed at one of said first

predetermined positions on said platform and moving said container between said first

and a suspended second predetermined position, said crane also arranged for depositing

said container onto a truck trailer chassis disposed below or alongside said platform at a

third predetermined position, or for engaging and raising a container to said platform

height from said third predetermined position to said second predetermined position from

a truck trailer chassis disposed below or alongside said platform and then moving and

depositing said container onto said first predetermined deposition position,

said platform having a floor including an opening above said third predetermined

container landing position through which containers are lifted from said third

predetermined position to one of said second predetermined positions,

a container scanning inspection apparatus mounted on said platform and formed

for reciprocating longitudinal movement on said platform to traverse the length of a

container positioned by said bridge crane at said second predetermined position to

nonintrusively inspect a container positioned by said bridge crane at said second

predetermined position, and

a sliding horizontal shield to cover said opening will send floor when said

scanning apparatus is operating.

Description:

TITLE OF THE INVENTION

An Improved Cargo Container Scanning Crane

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present invention is related to assignees' United States Patent Application

Number 10/639,957, filed August 12, 2003, for A Mobile Cargo Container Scanning

Crane. It is also related to United States Patent Serial Number 6,604,904, issued

August 12, 2003, for Method for Buffer Crane Operation in Cargo Container Handling.

The present invention is further related to the assignees' United States Patent Serial

Number 6,602,036, issued August 5, 2003, for Buffer Bridge Crane for Cargo Container

Handling Operations. These patent disclosures are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus which affects nonintrusive scanning

of cargo containers for nuclear based weapons during container transfer between a ship

and land transportation.

More particularly, the present invention relates to a buffer crane having radiation

emission scanning apparatus arranged for nonintrusive interrogation or inspection of

cargo containers while each container is being transferred between a ship and quay side

land transportation without slowing the quay crane container transfer cycle.

Still more particularly, the present invention is a mobile cargo container buffer and

scanning crane which transfers cargo containers between land transportation and a quay

crane pickup buffer position and which moves the cargo container being transferred past

a predetermined inspection position for radiation emission examination by a craneboard

apparatus before depositing the cargo container at the intended transfer buffer deposition

position.

Specifically, the present invention is a buffer crane in the form of a mobile

platform having a bridge crane mounted thereon for transferring cargo containers

between either a quay crane pickup position, or quay side land transportation. It has a

predetermined inspection position on the platform where a container can be non-

intrusively inspected by longitudinally transferring the container past a radiation

emission inspection apparatus located at the inspection position while functioning as a

buffer operation. The container is then either deposited on land transportation such as a

truck trailer chassis or deposited on the buffer position for pickup by a quay crane for

transfer to a ship.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

In view of recent terrorist activities throughout the world, considerable effort is

being given by analysts to improving security measures with respect to the maritime

industry and United States port operations. At the present time, based on the Automated

Tracking System, an intelligence based search system used by U.S. Customs, it has been

estimated that the probability that contraband will be discovered in containers that are

entering the U.S. is less than 50 percent. Thus, the maritime industry provides a delivery

system for weapons of mass destruction and every other container could possibly conceal

an atomic weapon which, if exploded in a U.S. port, in addition to causing massive

destruction, would essentially end international trade.

The methods to be employed to improve U.S. port security may prove severely

detrimental to port productivity. The ideal performance standard is 100 percent

inspection of inbound containers to U.S. ports. Apart from physically unloading and

inspecting the contents of every container, the obvious alternative is to non-intrusively

inspect each container such as by x-ray and when more sophisticated means of

nonintrusive inspection are developed, such as gamma ray scanning and neutron analysis,

implementing the use of those developments in addition to x-ray based systems.

The use of x-ray machinery in one manner or another for the purpose of inspecting

containers is discussed in the prior art literature. However, despite the numerous designs,

structures, and forms of apparatus disclosed by the prior art, which have been developed

for the accomplishment of the specific objectives, purposes, and requirements of

container contents inspection, the devices, machines, and methods which have been

heretofore suggested to accomplish these goals consist basically of familiar, expected,

and obvious, configurations, combinations, and arrangements of apparatus. However,

these designs have essentially added processing steps to port operations, and the sizes of

the machinery and complexity of the processing steps essentially interrupt the established

system of port operations. This factor causes problems when attempting to integrate the

technology into dockside cargo container handling.

The problem with instituting high-energy x-ray scanners for cargo container

examination, apart from safety concerns, is that the equipment will reduce port

productivity by disrupting highly developed port operations and consuming valuable

terminal space. The primary disadvantage is the interruption of the cargo container

transfer process between ship and shore. Most importantly, it interferes with the quay

crane off-loading cycle time which is crucial to a ship's berthing time at the dock which

must be kept at a minimum.

The inspection procedure of the related apparatus requires holding a container

immobile so that it can be x-rayed. While the cycle times for the x-ray process may

ultimately be reduced over time by improved technology, all of the presently considered

means for effecting the x-ray process require either stopping the container movement for

processing (usually during unloading in U.S. ports and, if required, in loading at foreign

ports) or multiple additional handling steps of the container during the transfer process

by taking it out of the normal handling cycle, and to an extra handling step, at an x-ray

position for processing, and then returning the container into the transfer cycle.

The present invention permits integration of the x-ray process into the buffer

station method of crane operation disclosed in the prior patented related apparatus and

methods of buffer crane operation whereby the inspection process can occur concurrently

during the cargo container transfer between ship and shore without interruption of the

quay crane transfer cycle.

The mobile cargo container scanning crane contemplated according to the present

invention departs substantially from the conventional concepts and designs contemplated

by the technical literature, and in doing so, provides an apparatus primarily developed for

the purpose of nonintrusive cargo container inspection during transfer between ship and

shore as described above, but it accomplishes the result in a different and improved

manner for producing a transfer cycle with a buffer inclusive procedure for container

inspection which is easily integrated into the container transfer cycle for faster

processing times and more efficient port operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing known and obvious disadvantages inherent in the known

types and methods of container inspection presently utilized in port operations, the

present invention provides a new method, apparatus, and architecture of construction for

integrated cargo container inspection during ship and shore container transfers wherein

the same can be utilized to maintain port efficiency.

The general purpose of the present invention, which will be described hereafter in

greater detail, is to provide a new and improved cargo container inspection apparatus

which has many of the advantages of the prior art forms of container inspection

mentioned and described above and many novel features and advantages that result in a

new integrated cargo container transfer cycle which is not anticipated, rendered obvious,

suggested, or even implied by any of the prior art of container inspection, and heretofore

known, either alone or in any combination thereof.

The present invention is a mobile cargo container scanning/buffer crane. It is

comprised of a wheel mounted platform formed for independent movement in a quay

area. The platform has at least a first predetermined container buffer deposition position

located thereon for a cargo container where it can be located for pickup or deposition by

a quay crane. A bridge crane is mounted above the platform and arranged for engaging

and suspending or depositing and releasing a cargo container disposed at the first

predetermined position on the platform. The crane is arranged for moving the container

between the first and a second predetermined position disposed below or alongside the

platform and then depositing the container onto a truck trailer chassis disposed at the

second predetermined position. The bridge crane is also arranged for engaging and

raising the container to the platform height from a truck trailer chassis disposed below or

alongside the platform at the second predetermined position and then moving and

depositing the container onto the first predetermined deposition position. A container

scanning inspection apparatus is mounted on the platform between the first and second

predetermined positions and formed to non-intrusively inspect a container transferred by

the bridge crane between the first and second predetermined positions.

The more important features of the invention have been broadly outlined in the

preceding summary of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof which

follows may be better understood and in order that the present contribution to an

improvement in the art may be better appreciated. There are additional features of the

invention that will be described hereinafter and which will form the subject matter of the

claims appended hereto.

With respect to the claims hereof, and before describing at least one preferred

embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not to

be limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the

components which are set forth in the following description or illustrated in the

accompanying drawings. The invention is capable of being created in other

embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be

understood that the phraseology and terminology employed here are for the purpose of

description and should not be regarded as limiting.

As such, those skilled in the art in which the invention is based will appreciate that

the conception upon which this disclosure is predicated may readily be utilized as a basis

for the designing of other forms, structures, apparatus, systems, and methods for carrying

out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the

claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions in so far as they do not

depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Further, the purpose of the appended abstract is to enable the United States Patent

and Trademark Office, and the public generally, and especially scientists, engineers and

practitioners of the art who are not familiar with the patent and legal terms or

phraseology, to determine quickly from cursory inspection the nature and essence of the

technical disclosure of the application. The abstract is neither intended to define the

invention of the specification, which is measured by the claims, nor is it intended to be

limiting as to the scope of the invention in any way.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an important object of the present invention to provide a cargo

container nonintrusive inspection apparatus for port operations.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a cargo container inspection

apparatus which is integrated into the quay crane cycle of transferring a cargo container

between ship and shore.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a mobile crane which

transfers be cargo container between a buffer station and land transportation with a

radiation emission inspection integrated into the transfer without container movement

interruption.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a mobile crane which

carries fixed position x-ray apparatus for inspecting cargo containers suspended by the

crane, while they are being transferred between a ship and shoreside operations, and are

trans itioned past the integral x-ray apparatus.

And it is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a mobile crane

which transfers cargo containers between land transportation and a buffer station for

pickup or deposition by a quay crane and which permits radiation emission inspection of

the suspended cargo containers while they are moved by the crane during transfer

between the two positions.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent when

the description of the apparatus of the present invention is considered in conjunction with

the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a typical quay crane with a scanning crane of the

present invention located thereunder;

FIG. 2 is a is a perspective view of the scanning crane of the present invention

shown in operation;

FIG. 3 is a is an end view of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 4 is a is a side elevation of FIG. 2.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Reference is made to the drawings for a description of the preferred embodiment

of the present invention wherein like reference numbers represent like elements on

corresponding views.

Reference is made to FIG. 1 of the drawings which shows a typical container

handling quay crane 11 located dockside in a shipping port. It is mounted on rails

disposed parallel to the dock edge 13. The quay crane traverses the wharf to position

itself to project its cantilevered boom 15 over the rows of container cells of the

adjacently berthed ship 17 when the boom is lowered. The scanning bridge crane 19 of

the present invention is shown disposed below the quay crane between the support

legs 21. It is mounted on pneumatic tires 23 for independent movement on the wharf

whereby it can be located at variable positions below or adjacent to the quay crane: either

between the support legs or alongside under a cantilevered shoreside back reach 25.

The scanning crane 19 is a low-profile buffer crane which can be positioned

underneath a quay crane 11 between its support legs 21 during container handling

operations. It is contemplated that a buffer/scanning crane could also be utilized in a

railroad stacking yard, under a large bridge or straddle crane, as well as dockside, so the

term "quay crane" as used in the claims to describe the environment of the invention is

intended to include these and other types of container storage yard and rail yard container

handling cranes as well.

Reference is made to FIGS. 2-4 which disclose a mobile cargo container

buffer/scanning bridge crane 19 in operation as contemplated by the present invention.

The crane is comprised of a multiple tire 23 or a wheel supported platform 27 and formed

for independent movement in a quay area. It is essentially a landing deck mounted on

legs so that container transporters can pass underneath. Containers can be landed on the

deck by a quay crane and temporarily stored when they are removed from shipboard or

where containers picked off ground level transporters can be landed and stored until they

are picked up by the quay crane for transport to a ship. The landing deck can thereby

function as a buffer crane quite effectively and even more so when constructed with

multiple landing positions for containers as described in the patents described supra and

incorporated herein. The landing deck or platform 27 has a first predetermined

position 29 for the deposit of containers 31 which have been off-loaded from a ship by

a quay crane or where containers being transferred from land transportation can be

landed until picked up by the quay crane for transfer to a ship. This first predetermined

position is labeled the "first" for designation purposes and does not necessarily describe

its position as a sequence step in container transfer operations except in the one specific

mode of crane operation: ship to shore transfer. Conversely, it is the last predetermined

position in a shore to ship container transfer. Therefore, the designation as a first

position is an arbitrary selection simply because the most immediate need in the industry

is for inspection of containers being landed in the United States, and that sequence starts

with the quay crane landing the container first on the buffer deposition position of the

scanning crane.

This first predetermined position 29 can actually be comprised of a number of

landing positions for the temporary storage of containers during ship loading and

unloading operations whereby the scanning crane 19 can also function as a buffer crane

as taught by the related and incorporated patents although a single buffer deposition

position can be sufficient under some conditions for the scanning crane to function

adequately as a buffer crane.

The scanning/buffer crane 19 has a second predetermined position 33 which, in

the preferred embodiment of the invention, is a suspended position where a container is

oriented for commencing the nonintrusive scanning examination by the scanning

apparatus of the buffer crane located on the platform. It can also be a landing position

depending upon the number of containers being processed by the scanning crane or crane

operator discretion.

In terms of relative time, the scanning crane 19 can remain engaged to or hold

onto a container being transferred between ship and shore for a reasonably long period

of time during the transfer operations in relation to the cycle time of the quay crane 11 in

order to accomplish the inspection/interrogation process on a container.

The quay crane 11 requires time to engage a container, either on shipboard in a

container cell, or shoreside from a dockside transporter or a buffer crane, and then to lift

the container to shipboard clearance height while translating it horizontally between ship

and shore, and then for lowering the container to an accurate deposition height and

position for release either in a shipboard cell or onto a predetermined deposition position

on a buffer crane or onto a ground transporter. This quay crane transfer cycle time

involves considerably more time than the scanning crane needs to engage a container, to

lift and move it a short distance past an inspection position, allowing the necessary time

for the apparatus to scan it, and to deposit it at the predetermined release position. As a

result, the scanning crane, when functioning in a buffer operation, can perform the

scanning operation without interrupting the quay crane cycle times. The related patents,

supra, disclose a buffer crane which includes multiple landing/storage positions to ensure

that a fully functional buffer operation is achieved, but even a single buffer container

landing position on a scanning crane will be sufficient for performing a buffer operation

in those cases where the quay crane transfer cycle times are sufficiently slow to permit

the scanning process to be included in the buffer crane operation.

A bridge crane 35 is mounted on a pair of leg supported crossbeams 37 above the

mobile platform and generally spans double the length of the cargo containers it is

intended to handle. It is arranged for engaging either a cargo container mounted on a

truck trailer chassis, disposed either below or alongside the platform at a fourth

predetermined position, or for depositing a container thereonto. The bridge crane lifts or

lowers the containers between the third and a fourth predetermined positions through an

opening in the floor of the landing deck. The third predetermined position is located at

platform 27 level on the buffer crane and longitudinally displaced from the second

predetermined position on the opposite side of the scanning apparatus.

In those situations where the clearance height under the crossmembers extending

between the legs of a quay crane is limited, it may not be possible to drive container

transporters under the scanning crane. In that case, it would be necessary to lift or

deposit containers from and to transporters parked alongside the scanning crane. To do

so, the support rails for the bridge crane on the crossbeams 37 would be extended to

project laterally over the adjacent truck parking positions with cantilevered beam

projections. As a result, the fourth predetermined position would be alongside the buffer

crane rather than underneath it.

The bridge crane 35 is formed for raising a container from a trailer chassis at the

fourth predetermined position to the platform height at the second and third

predetermined positions which are disposed at one side of the platform. Is also formed

for moving horizontally and translating a container between the first, second, and third

predetermined container landing position(s) and depositing it on the first or second. In

other words, the bridge crane moves containers between land transportation (fourth

predetermined position) and the quay crane landing positions (first predetermined

position—includes the second) with intermediate container hold positions (second and

third predetermined positions) for container examination during that portion of the

transfer cycle between the second and third predetermined positions. The second

predetermined position in the preferred embodiment of the invention is either a

suspended position or a landing position (a first predetermined position alternative). The

third predetermined position is usually disposed above the fourth predetermined position

or laterally displaces therefrom.

A container scanning inspection or interrogation apparatus 39 is mounted on the

platform 27 approximately in the middle thereof to scan the length of a cargo

container 43 suspended by the bridge crane 35 when it is translated between the second

and third predetermined positions.

Reference is made to FIG.3. The scanning apparatus 39 envisioned by the present

invention includes a focused radiation emitter 47 housed in a shield 49 which directs

radiation toward the container 43 suspended between the second and third predetermined

positions. A receptive screen and radiation shield 51 are positioned behind the container

and supported by the crane platform which supports the radiation emitter and its

shielding. The scanning apparatus includes a shield disposed in the form of an

underlying platform to prevent radiation from scattering downward in order to protect

dockside workers and truck driver personnel located under the platform 27. A shield

door 53 mounted on rollers can be provided under the third predetermined position to

cover the access opening in the floor of the landing deck during scanning to prevent

radiation from reaching the truck drivers and dock personnel through the opening.

When a cargo container is transferred by the bridge crane from either the landside

transportation (fourth predetermined position) or the quay crane (first predetermined)

landing position 29 to the intended receiving deposition position, it is positioned during

transit at either the second or third predetermined positions to initiate the nonintrusive

scanning apparatus operation. Then the container is moved along the length of the

landing platform past the apparatus to effect scannings the suspended container during

transit between the second and third predetermined positions before it is either lowered

onto the land transportation truck trailer chassis or moved to land on one of the

buffer/landing (first predetermined) positions 29.

The presently available scanning apparatus 39 can include x-ray machines and

gamma ray detectors, and eventually neutron analysis machines. These latter devices

may not require the capability of moving along the container to scan it. Positioning it at

one place in relation to the scanning apparatus by stopping its movement may be

sufficient and permit the container to be deposited on the landing deck at a buffer

position while the scanning apparatus performs its function. In each case, radiation

emission from the scanning apparatus either interrogates the containers or is detected by

the scanning apparatus. So the term scanning apparatus includes all forms of radiation

emissions generation and detection equipment used in the present invention. When new

and improved noninvasive scanning equipment evolves, it can be substituted for the

radiation emission generation or detection equipment possibly with the deletion of the

unnecessary radiation protective apparatus, and mounted on the translating platform.

Modifications to the present apparatus are envisioned as coming within the concept and

apparatus of the present invention as claimed.

The present invention and provides a container scanning crane which can function

as a buffer between two port operations and allows the other port operations to continue

uninterrupted. Security scanning or screen occurs while a container is located in a buffer

whereby the port operations continue to function without interruption. The scanning

crane provides its own bridge crane for independent handling of the containers and

reciprocating them past the scanning apparatus. The bridge crane locates the scanning

apparatus above the dockside truck operations so that it does not interfere with the flow

of trucks on the wharf. The scanning crane is an independent machine which can be

installed in ports with minimum modifications to the facilities.

Thus, it will be apparent from the foregoing description of the invention in its

preferred form that it will fulfill all the objects and advantages attributable thereto.

While it is illustrated and described in considerable detail herein, the invention is not to

be limited to such details as have been set forth except as may be necessitated by the

appended claims.