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Cavotec MoorMaster at the Welland Canal
#1
Yesterday while cycling the Welland Canal, I spotted some big yellow things at Lock 3 while we were unloading our bikes.  I thought to myself "I'll have to go see what that's all about when we get back to the car".  While riding, I spotted more and more of them, at every lock:

   

At first I thought "Oh wow, they've put giant friction pads that press up against the sides of the ships on both sides to hold them laterally, while being able to move vertically while the ship traverses the Lock!"

....and then I realized they were only on one side...

   

...and then I realized that those giant "friction pads" are actually massive vacuum pads!  I design industrial automation and use vacuum cups at the end of tooling to hold parts, and vacuum is incredibly powerful... but I'm still astonished that just 6 of these rectangular pads are enough to secure a massive ocean-going vessel!

   

After watching the Algoma Olympic come through Lock 3, a quick internet search on "Cavotec" revealed that, yes indeed, this is a completely automated vacuum mooring system, they call MoorMaster.

Some history (I spent the whole reading about them when I got home Big Grin):

In 2007, the The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) worked with Cavotec to install a prototype unit at Lock 7.  It worked well, and after installing a second system in Beauharnois, Quebec, they signed a contract to install thirty seven units on all the remaining locks of the Welland Canal.  That happened this winter past, and opened for use this spring!

You can find installation photos from the company that did the general contracting, here: http://www.rankinconstruction.ca/page/projects?fid=13

I vaguely remember watching ships go through the locks and they were stabilized by metal ropes, which operators would have to winch in or pay out intermittently as the ships rose or descended.  This seemed to require a lot of skill and could cause an accident.  It was also time consuming - the whole sequence of attaching all the ropes took a long time and required a lot of labour.  The new system attaches to the ship in about 20 seconds.





...and here's a great video that talks in much more detail about the technicals of how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc7hjp7NFsM
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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#2
That's very cool! I'm surprised it's taken this long to implement technology like this. I would have guessed magnets would be used, but I guess that would be very hard to make fail safe.
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#3
Awesome Canard. I didn't know they are utilizing this technology.  Great idea. Thanks for the article.
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#4
I love how in the one video they comment that mooring technology has not changed for thousands of years. Let that sink in for a minute.
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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#5
(06-18-2017, 08:52 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: That's very cool!  I'm surprised it's taken this long to implement technology like this.  I would have guessed magnets would be used, but I guess that would be very hard to make fail safe.

More likely magnets are less able to be controlled. Permanent magnets are very challenging in space-confined areas to apply/remove from objects, especially without large forces. Electromagnets would require a good deal of knowledge about the ship and area materials, such that you wouldn't see different ferromagnetic properties of different ship materials adversely affected, as the magnetism won't exist solely in an enclosed space the way the suction does.
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