There is renewed confidence in the container handling market

By Euan Youdale28 June 2011

Liebherr Container Cranes secured an order for the supply of two ship-to-shore container cranes to D

Liebherr Container Cranes secured an order for the supply of two ship-to-shore container cranes to DP World Aden, Yemen. The container cranes have a waterside outreach of 55 m, span of 30.48 m and lan

Manufacturers are responding to a new confidence in the container handling market with environmentally conscious and economically viable machines. Euan Youdale reports

One of the most notable sagas in the dockside sector has been the ownership of Demag Cranes and approaches from major manufacturers interested in buying the company out. For an up-to-date progress report on this topic see Linked Articles to the right of this page.

In its most recent financial results Demag Cranes CEO, Aloysius Rauen, stresses the company is in good shape. "Our business performance has been very positive in the first two quarters of the financial year and has encouraged us to be optimistic."

Group order intake for the 2010-2011 financial year was 28.8% higher than the previous year's figure, standing at €278 million (US$ 396 million). Order intake in the first half of financial year was €562 million ($801 million), equivalent to a rise of 40.4% on the same period in 2009/2010.

In a similar vein, Cargotec's 2011 sales are forecast to grow about 20%. Healthy first quarter order intake in the Industrial & Terminal and Marine segments, together with a recovery in the market generally support hopes for continued growth, says the Finland-based manufacturer. "Market activity for cargo handling solutions has, despite the natural catastrophes afflicting the world, strengthened to the extent that we raise our estimated sales growth for 2011. Our strong order intake for the first quarter confirms our success in the markets. The profitability improvement in Industrial & Terminal compared to the previous quarter is important for us, even if sales were slightly lower. After the regulatory approvals of the Navis acquisition at the end of March, the development of our container terminal segment was started," says Mikael Mäkinen, president and CEO.

Improved demand

Konecranes is also reporting signs of an upswing. The combined orders for nuclear cranes, port cranes and lift trucks amounted to about 40% of all orders received in the last financial year and were higher than the previous year, said the company. The order intake included a number of large port crane orders.

"The demand for new equipment improved as the economic growth has eliminated much of the overcapacity within manufacturing industries. The container handling equipment market was clearly livelier than a year ago as the global container traffic set a new record in 2010. Also, the available statistics from early 2011 point to continued growth in port handling volumes," said a company spokesman.

Liebherr is mildly more cautious concerning growth prospects, but still echoes a rise in fortunes. This follows a weak 2009 in the mobile harbour cranes sector, with a drop of 40% in demand for these products. An improvement, however, was felt during 2010. "At the end of 2010 turnover reached €210 million, a slightly higher figure than in 2009."

Leap forward

Looking at regional turnover distribution, Liebherr said Europe accounted for 38%, Latin America 18%, India 15% and Africa 12%; the balance being almost equally shared between North America, the Middle East, Far East Asia and Australia.

"2010 was all about mastering challenges and securing the future. The introduction of the Pactronic hybrid drive system was definitely a quantum leap which is already reflected in the figures of the order backlog. As of 31 December, the order backlog for Liebherr mobile harbour cranes amounted to more than €100 million. Of the existing orders, the new LHM 550 including Pactronic accounted for more than 25%," says a company spokesman.

Pactronic was introduced to the market on the new LHM 550. Serial production started in October 2010. So far more than 10 machines are on order, says the manufacturer. The LHM 550 provides customers with the same modular construction system available on Liebherr's LHM 600 model. "Different applications call for different configurations of winches and drive systems to conform to all variants of professional cargo handling. Tower extension and boom variants with different radii complement the modular concept," says the spokesman.

For dedicated container handling the recommended crane set up is a 54 m boom, 34.5 tonnes at 54 m maximum outreach. This allows for container handling up to the 18th row of a post-panamax container liner. With Pactronic the LHM 550 achieves up to 38 moves per hour.

For dedicated bulk handling the recommended crane set up is a 48 m boom. The configuration of 43.5 tonnes at 40 m is suited to handle capsize bulk carrier. With Pactronic the LHM 550 achieves up to 2,000 tonnes per hour, adds the company.

Environmental trend

Over the next two years the Pactronic Hybrid Drive will be gradually rolled out on all mobile harbour crane models. Liebherr's system represents a fast moving trend towards more environmentally conscious systems in the dockside market from most manufacturers.

Another example comes from Energy and data transmission system specialist Conductix-Wampfler, which received an order to convert 18 diesel-powered rubber tyred gantry cranes to electrical operation with its drive-in system. The E-RTG technology, developed in Weil am Rhein, Germany will be incorporated into the cranes in Yilport port near Gebze and Dilovasi, Turkey.

Diesel-driven RTGs often account for half of the power consumed in a port, and are responsible for a significant part of its carbon dioxide emissions, says the company. "Since diesel prices are continually rising and environmental protection is more and more important, many operators are looking for alternative power concepts for essential cranes. The electrification can be done with the Drive-In solution, the Plug-In solution, or with a motor cable reel. We can offer any terminal operator the system that's right for them," explains Ergün Hallac, Conductix-Wampfler project leader.

Sage deployment

Further reflecting such demand is Hamburg terminal operator HHLA's order for 14 Cargotec Kalmar 7+ generation ESC350W diesel-electric straddle carriers. Cargotec's most environmentally conscious model will be deployed at Container Terminal Burchardkai (CTB), in Germany. They are due for delivery in September 2011.

The new straddle carriers use selective catalytic reduction engine technology, designed to meet Stage 3B engine emissions requirements that came into force in the European Union earlier this year. The 3-high machines with twin-lift spreaders, capable of lifting up to 50 tonne loads, will also be supplied with a variable speed generator (VSG) and winch hoist system with full AC drives to reduce harmful emissions and fuel consumption, said the manufacturer.

Cargotec will also supply HHLA with its Equipment Monitoring Service (EMS) and analysis tool. "Everything that the operator can see on the monitor in the straddle carrier cab, staff in the control will also be able to monitor remotely through wireless LAN. This data will be extremely useful, allowing HHLA to analyse and monitor operational trends within the straddle carrier fleet," said Ismo Matinlauri, Cargotec senior vice president, port cranes.

"The latest contract also underlines the fact that demand for Kalmar machines in developed economies is picking up once again in 2011, as terminals restart investment plans put on hold before the recession," added a company spokesman.

Emerging markets

While some terminals are getting back into their stride, others in emerging markets are just getting going. South American container terminal operator Santos Brazil has become the biggest customer of Cargotec Kalmar E-One rubber-tyred gantries (RTG), with its latest order of 12 units, bringing the total to 29. They will be delivered to the customer's recently inaugurated Tecon Santos Terminal 4 expansion. Delivery will commence in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The 16-wheel, 7+1 wide and 1-over-6 high configuration is designed to put less stress on terminal surfaces compared to conventional 8-wheel units. They will have 55 tonne capacity twin-lift Bromma spreaders with load sensing capability via the twistlocks.

Confirming the importance of South America as a growth market is Gottwald Port Technology (Gottwald), a subsidiary of Demag Cranes. It will supply a G HMK 8410 mobile harbour crane to Puerto Angamos, Mejillones in Chile. The Generation 5 (Model 8) crane will be the largest Gottwald mobile harbour crane for container handling in the Americas. It will also allow the operator to service super post-Panamax vessels in the future. Commercial operation is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2011.

"There is no doubt that Central and South America have developed into one of our high-focus markets. Disproportionate growth in the region underlines its strategic importance for the Demag Cranes Group. We will continue to expand our local business activities accordingly," says Thomas Hagen, COO and member of the management board Demag Cranes.

New units

Altamira Terminal Portuario (ATP Altamira) in Mexico placed its third order for rubber tyred gantry (RTG) cranes from Konecranes. When delivered in July 2011, ATP Altamira will have nine Konecranes RTGs. The 16-wheel RTGs have active load control with a horizontal fine positioning system and Konecranes' crane management system. Lifting capacity is 40 tonnes and they can stack one over five containers high, and six plus a truck lane wide.

Central Europe and the Baltic Sea is another growth area. Cargotec has opened a new multi-assembly unit (MAU) in Stargard Szczecinski, Poland, 60 km from the Baltic and where it will produce a wide range of Cargotec cargo-handling equipment.

"The site was chosen for its close proximity to land and water transport routes within Europe. The location of the facility helps reduce transportation costs and makes our operations more flexible. We can now respond even more efficiently to the rising customer demand in Central Europe," says Axel Leijonhufvud, executive vice president, Cargotec supply.

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