InSeil – Intelligent steel wire InSeil

Co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Duration: November 2012 – October 2015

In today’s economic environment the reliability of technical systems is gaining more and more interest due to substantial costs caused by operational downtimes. Especially maintenance and the resulting downtimes of the facility for cargo handling may lead to a loss of productivity due to a delay of the loading and unloading process. For dockside cranes, one of the critical components is the steel wire ropes.

Since single wires tend to break after a prolonged operation time, steel wire ropes have to be inspected regularly and if necessary have to be replaced. Particularly, at fully automated dockside cranes, which are used at CTA Container Terminal Altenwerder GmbH of HHLA Hamburger Hafen Logistik AG, the application of an automatically surveillance system for wire rope inspection is desired to ensure the predictability of the necessary maintenance activities.

The goal of the project InSeil, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is the development of a novel fiber optical measurement system to detect wire breaks in steel wire ropes in real-time and to replace the common visual inspection, which is a very time-consuming process. Furthermore, knowledge gained from the surveillance data shall be used to determine the residual lifetime of the steel wire rope. Through this, downtimes shall be minimized and maintenance shall be planned far-sighted and cost-effective.

Applying optical technologies, glass fibers, which are commonly used for data communication, are processed with femtosecond ultra-short pulse lasers, creating a so-called fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. These fiber optical sensors are integrated into the steel wire ropes of dockside cranes. Combined with an ultra-fast wavelength interrogator (up to 1MHz sampling rate), besides load distribution, single wire breaks can be precisely detected.