AML Automated Mooring (New Zealand) has announced a breakthrough in the design of an automated fender mooring system. The company claims that their system facilitates safe berthing allowing to maintain the loading from the vessel over the height range of operation, which for most cargo vessels can be a draught change of over 4 metres plus a tide change of 2 metres. With most cargo vessels, a fully laden ship on a low tide will only have a metre or two clearance above the quay, which makes safe mooring a challenging operation.
The AML system operates by automatically lowering large vacuum pads on vertical tensioned cables to the required attachment level on the hull. The vacuum pads each have a folding framework that extend outwards so the pads act as fenders when the vessel berths. The frames fold with impact and remain folded, tensioning the vessel towards the quay. The tension guide cables act like a bowstring where the ship has the ability to pull in any direction from any height. Height allowance for draught and tide displacement is achieved by vacuum pads that have the ability to operate underwater. The loading design calculations are assisted by a computer program that uses the information such as ship profile, size, berth and weather details to give ideal attachment positioning and loading detail which will meet the requirements for the safe berthing of ships. The company is currently working with several overseas Port Authorities towards installations to berth container and bulk carrier ships.