Railcar Automated Coupling and Switching
Pacific Coast Terminals (in Port Moody, BC) is a highly-automated terminal for the transshipment of bulk materials from railcars to cargo ships. A rotary dumper empties the bulk material in the railcars by tipping their contents onto a conveyor system, in preparation for subsequent shipment. The dumper requires three people for operation: the dumper operator remotely controls the positioning of the railcars from an operator’s cab, and two switchmen serve to break and couple the railcars on adjacent incoming and outgoing tracks. The switchmen’s jobs are undesirable because of the short duration of required activities combined with a long-term exposure to potential hazards from possible unexpected movements of the cars. This project is aimed at increasing the level of automation of the rotary dumper system to allow automatic coupling and decoupling of railcars, thus allowing switchmen to be reassigned to safer and more productive work.