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Ports Houston Port

High Mast system saves space,
eases maintenance at Houston Port

Space is at a premium at any seaport. When lighting was installed at the newly developed Terminal No. 5 at Barbours Cut Marine Terminal along the Houston Ship Channel, fixtures were restricted to the property edges to allow movement of the port's mobile cranes.

A major container terminal located about 22 miles downstream from Houston, Barbours Cut furnishes warehousing for goods preparing to leave or having arrived by ship. Materials are trucked out or transported by rail.

Terminal No. 5 is 1,000 feet wide and 2,500 feet deep, and stores modular containers for shipping. Most containers are eight feet wide and vary in length from 20 to 40 feet. The eight to 9 1/2-foot-tall containers are stackable, with units stacked four and five high.

"This tends to be a 24-hour operation and while there is lighting on the cranes, we need additional illumination, particularly on the perimeter where the major truck lanes are located," explained John Paterson, chief electrical engineer with the Port of Houston Authority.

Lighting installed at the terminal is the Holophane LD 25 High Mast Lowering Device System, mounted on 75-foot poles on a five-foot pedestal. Poles are spaced 200 feet by 1,000 feet, with pole locations confirmed by Holophane's Computer Aided Lighting Analysis (CALA) software. Sixteen PrismBeam luminaires with 1,000-watt high pressure sodium lamps are used per pole.

"One of the reasons for going with the high mast system is the fact that we have so much heavy equipment. We can't afford to have closely spaced poles; we must use as few poles as possible, placed in-out-of-the-way locations," Paterson said.

He added that the reason the Holophane system was selected was primarily due to the lowering device.
"We had complaints from the maintenance department about servicing fixtures that required special trucks and lifts," Paterson said. "I had successfully installed the Holophane system in the past and sold this facility on the idea of using the high mast units."

The Holophane system is serviced by bringing a winch motor on a pickup truck to each pole. Luminaires lower to within three feet of the pole base, allowing for lamps to be replaced and other maintenance to take place at ground level. All electrical connections are also accessible for easy maintenance.

Lighting systems at some other Port Authority terminals are comprised of fixed poles with horizontal arms supporting the lamps. Each pole has 18 lamps, compared to the 16 lamps installed on the Holophane poles.

"Frankly, energy was not a major consideration when we started this project. However, we have increased the footcandle levels about two times, with two less fixtures per pole," Paterson said. Illumination levels are five to 10 footcandles maintained.

"At the older facilities, we have a puddle of light around each pole. With the Holophane units, the light is well directed and the uniformity greatly improved," Paterson said.

"The prismatic glass optics also stand up better to the salt air, preventing the light depreciation that is common with a metal reflector," he added.

Another advantage of the Holophane system is the Integrated Communication System(ICS), which sends on and off commands from a controller to the lighting fixtures using the facility's electrical wiring, requiring no special or dedicated wiring. Not only does the system offer major initial cost advantages, but it allows control points to be added or moved in the future without costly wiring changes. Using a photo cell in combination with the ICS controller further maximizes energy conservation.

Twenty Holophane poles are installed at Barbours Cut, with Holophane systems also used at the Port Authority's Turning Basin Terminal at the Port Authority and Jacintoport Terminals, City Dock 16. Paterson indicated that Holophane high mast systems will be installed at a sixth terminal that is presently in the design stage.


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