Kalmar OnWatch is a remote service that provides automation expertise to customer operations, engineering and IT. With the service, Kalmar can monitor, assist and troubleshoot from wherever the world's best specialists are located. The scope of service can vary from full, dedicated 24/7 support to agreed checks before a shift start.

"On top of data from Kalmar’s own systems, Kalmar OnWatch allows us to take advantage of other information that’s available from the customer terminal, such as video feeds," says Mika Seppä, Senior Director, Customer and Project Services, Kalmar. "It's a great way to ensure that systems are operated correctly, and to provide continuous training for the customer’s own team."

Kalmar has four key offices around the world providing Kalmar OnWatch services alongside normal remote support. "This allows us to have a 'follow the sun' approach with which we can cover all time zones with our staff working normal daytime hours," notes Seppä.

Instant support

The Kalmar OnWatch solution was originally designed in collaboration with TraPac in Los Angeles, USA. The first to automate in the Los Angeles port complex, the TraPac terminal features a hybrid layout combining Kalmar Automated Stacking Cranes (ASCs), automated electric and hybrid Straddle Carriers, automated truck handling and Kalmar equipment control systems. Deploying the new terminal concept has involved converting from existing manual operations based on Rubber-Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes and reachstackers.

The complexity of the required system integration and testing required a constant presence by Kalmar, so a practical solution was found by providing Kalmar with real-time remote access and connectivity to the terminal's systems. This enables Kalmar to provide instant real-time support from anywhere in the world, at any time of day.

"Thanks to the solution, we can be an integral part of TraPac's operations and engineering team, working through the entire shift with the on-site staff if necessary," says Mika Seppä. "With remote visibility on the terminal's operations, we can also access a wider range of engineering tools to resolve any issues, usually within a few minutes. It's no longer about filing support tickets and waiting for someone to get back to you."

Working together

"Digital solutions are about using the power of computing to address a business need," says John Alvarez, Assistant Vice President, Automation Excellence, TraPac Los Angeles. "For us, as a customer, it's essential that our support staff have a complete view of what's happening at our terminal, but it doesn't matter where they are located. It's much more efficient to have Kalmar's professionals working for us 24/7 remotely rather than flying people around the world."

Providing remote access to core terminal systems requires extremely robust data security and connectivity, but Alvarez notes that opening access to trusted partners is a routine operation in today's connected world. "Obviously, we need to take cybersecurity very seriously, but these are factors that any large IT department should be able to handle. At the end of the day, it's no different than providing remote system access to our own employees."

The Kalmar OnWatch service integrates with TraPac's support at various levels. "We are there to help out with daily issues, but can also provide deeper analysis of terminal data whenever needed," Mika Seppä says. "We also use the solution to support TraPac with comprehensive testing and emulation whenever new layouts, configurations or software updates are taken into production."

John Alvarez and Mika Seppä speaking together at Kalmar's Explore Automation 2019 event.

Towards new horizons

In the future, Kalmar and TraPac are looking to continue to push the possibilities of real-time remote monitoring in developing terminal operations. Potential avenues for exploration include advanced machine learning and AI solutions for analysing data in real time and identifying potential issues before they occur.

"It's a journey of continuous improvement and we are always looking for new ways to get more out of the system," says Mika Seppä. "Kalmar OnWatch is the perfect tool for this purpose, since we can work together seamlessly with TraPac and see what's working best for the terminal."