Developments in dockside lifting
By Alex Dahm12 August 2009
The slump in shipping and associated port activity has coincided with a move towards fuel efficiency and increased capacity. Euan Youdale discusses these trends with rubber tyred gantries in mind
Demag Cranes will cut 750 jobs as part of worldwide restructuring measures, adding to a cut in temporary staff and the introduction of a short working week in March.
In its second quarter results the company says, "As the economic environment for international ports remains as negative as before - if anything, it has tended to worsen further still - port and terminal operators continue to postpone capital spending," says the company.
Konecranes is continuing to adjust to its capacity. It forecasts permanent job losses of 80 at most, in addition to possible temporary layoffs in Finland, where it employs 620 people. The company has already adjusted its capacity by reducing hired personnel and temporary employees. In addition, the company has shifted subcontracting back to in-house production.
While the testing times are well documented, the move to conserve time, energy and cost through optimising every aspect of the machine is a trend throughout the RTG and wider dockside sector.
Tiia Koskinen, Konencranes marketing manager, port cranes, says the company is also focusing heavily on automation development, fuel saving and GPS systems. "The advantages to the user are environmental - noise and emissions - and cycle time reduction that leads to cost savings."
Kalmar, the container handling division of Cargotec, has been developing its RTG range over the last couple of years. The Kalmar E-One RTG was launched in 2005 and updated in 2007 to E-One+ 2. These products share the industry's move to an all electric design, with no hydraulics and low fuel consumption. The maintenance interval is 1,000 operating hours, says the company.
Marko Rasinen at Kalmar adds, "One of the main trends in RTGs has been lowering the energy consumption including applying variable speed generators and even mains electrical supply. Kalmar was the first to introduce its mains supplied RTG, named Zero Emission RTG. These Zero Emission RTGs have been running in Oslo Port Authority successfully since 2002."
Italian manufacturer Fantuzzi, which is in the process of being bought by Terex Corporation, has made the move to fully electric rubber tyred gantry cranes. Other energy saving solutions include the replacement of the on board diesel generator with an electrical supply via a power cable. The engine is optimised through the recovery and storage of energy, normally dissipated in actions like lowering the load. It also operates at the required level at all times.
This results in "higher reliability, lower cost of operation and maintenance, thus a minimised total cost of ownership. In addition, the machine is environmentally friendly - lower energy consumption, lower or no pollutant emission and no risk of accidental oil spillages," says the company.
All this complements the Fantuzzi Harbour Revolution, an integrated cross-dockside lifting system developed and patented by group president Luciano Fantuzzi. It includes new RTG and RMG cranes able to operate in single, twin and tandem modes. The company sells about 80 RTG and RMG cranes a year, and around 10 STS.
This development of the whole dockside environment is reflected in increased lifting capabilities of the machines. "Dealing with container cranes, there is not a continuous increase of lifting weight, since the goods/container/unit weight is unified, but there is a tendency towards twin lift [of containers]. That is already almost the standard for STS cranes while, with RTG, it is still a relatively new trend, leading the safe working load of the machine to shift from the standard 40 tonne towards 50 or 60 tonnes."
For RTG cranes the market is requesting 6+1 or 7+1 wide and 5+1 high, with 40 tonnes capacity. Also, some customers are requesting 6+1 in height and a capacity up to 50 tonnes," says Fantuzzi.
Tiia Koskinen at Konecranes adds simply that bigger container ships are leading to bigger cranes. Paul Bolger, Liebherr Container Cranes product manager, agrees. He says popular capacities are now 6 or 7 wide, plus a truck lane, with a 1 over 5 high stacking capability.
"We have RTGs operating at various sites worldwide from the Middle East to Europe to Canada, in all operating and climatic conditions. Our machines are from single lift 40.6 tonnes capacity up to 65 tonne twin lift. The major demand worldwide, however, is for single lift machines."
Bolger adds that all Liebherr's RTGs benefit from its unique 8-rope reeving system, ensuring accurate container and spreader positioning. "This leads to significant productivity increases when loading and unloading trucks and stack building," explains Bolger.
This, he says, is of particular importance as there is a trend towards growing stack heights of four to five containers, with some now reaching six containers high. "Even with a 1 over 6 machine, the driver can very accurately position the spreader without the side guides being used," adds Bolger.
Figures indicate 35 to 40% more productivity from the 8 rope reeving system compared to conventional arrangements, Bolger continues. "This system, when combined with the Liebherr designed drive and control system, also ensures a fuel efficient cycle, which is well worth considering in these times of fluctuating oil prices."
In this system, the spreader is directly connected to the hoist ropes, which reduces the Tare weight in each spreader hoisting cycle because no head block is required. This leads to further fuel and energy savings, says Bolger.
Such savings become all the more vital in a time of economic uncertainty. Kalmar's RTG sales reached 172 units in 2008. But, "Like all companies in the industry can verify, the number of investments have significantly lowered, reducing and postponing decisions on equipment purchases," explains Marko Rasinen.
Tiia Koskinen at Konecranes port cranes says there is an opportunity to be found in the situation. "Most of the terminal operators are paying more attention to their actual operating costs and starting to realise more the importance of the life time cost of the equipment.
Fantuzzi, confirms orders for port handling machines has dropped due to the reduction in shipping. However, the company adds that the long lead times of some dockside cranes, 10 to 16 months, means that a substantial number of port investment plans have been not been cut.
"The main changes noticed since the start of the global crisis is that the Chinese and South East Asian market has slowed down less than the rest of the world, thus the market share of these regions has increased in proportion," adds Fantuzzi.
In May, Terex confirmed its plan to acquire Fantuzzi, following a period of uncertainty earlier in the year. Rick Nichols, Terex Cranes president says. "Immediately after closing we will begin to work with Fantuzzi's team members, suppliers, distributors, customers and other stakeholders to aggressively restructure and position these businesses for the eventual recovery in their markets."