Harbouring resources

10 July 2020

Mobile harbour cranes' versatility has made them extremely attractive to ports all over the world. Julian Champkin looks at the market.

Fixed gantry cranes in large ports are dedicated to loading and unloading containers; mobile harbour cranes offer more flexibility but nevertheless can be large, sometimes very large. “Mobile harbour cranes are typically designed to operate in different configurations,” says Mauro Cicciatore, of the commercial department of Italgru cranes. “That is why we generally describe them as multi-purpose. Their versatility allows customers to choose between different applications. Container handling, with single or twin lift spreader, is one of the standard features that we offer on our cranes.”

Technology, of course is of the latest. “Among the special features we normally offer is electronic anti-sway for suspended loads.

Paired with a camera positioned in boom tip, the combination improves safety and accuracy. Our G.P.A (assisted production management) system, installed on the PLC, digitally tracks parameters such as number of cycles, tons of goods handled per cycle, operating time and maintenance time. And all our cranes can be monitored through telemaintenance: the crane is connected, through internet, to the Italgru headquarters or the local maintenance station, for a real time monitoring and troubleshooting.

During the Covid-19 travel restrictions, telemaintenance has been an effective tool that allowed us to oversee operations from our headquarters.”

Stefano Colombo, Italgru’s sales manager, says: “We have recently introduced on all our models, a new design with electric drives on both hoisting and slewing movements, intended for customers focused on eco-friendly solutions. And our cranes can be equipped with energy saving systems based on hydraulic energy accumulators. They store energy from decelerations and lowering loads. The crane software automatically decides when to use the stored energy, by analysing the power requested to the prime mover. The result is a saving in fuel.”

Eco-friendliness is a major focus in the sector. “Ports are switching to renewable resources. Some are performing major changes in infrastructure, installing solar panels and using wind power. They are basically granting themselves free electricity; therefore an electric crane is consequential and an obvious choice.”

Cable reel power is an obvious solution: “Customers are very aware of the financial and environmental benefits of cable. On the other hand, a crane operated with cable reel reduces its operational flexibility and versatility. To avoid this, our cranes are equipped with hybrid configurations, an electric cable reel to supply the crane from quay grid and a diesel engine as an independent power source. We can provide either a diesel-hydraulic configuration or an electric configuration, allowing us to meet both customers who want to run with eco-friendly solutions or others who feel more comfortable with a diesel powered crane. In 2019, we delivered among others an 80t diesel-powered IMHC 1580 to Ben Nghe Port in Vietnam in July and a 125t diesel IMHC 2120 to a customer in the Port of Ghent (in Belgium) in September.”

The latter customer has also bought two 140t machines, which are ready to be shipped. This year Italgru has sent two cable-reel electric-drive 125t cranes to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and will send two more in July to Gangavaram Port in India.

“The harbour mobile crane is an attractive solution for many ports as it can be moved flexibly along the edge of the pier and it can be used for a wide range of applications,” says Florian Attenhauser, public relations manager for Sennebogen.

Their latest mobile harbour crane is the giant 9300 E, which has a boom length of 40m, a 563kW electric motor and a lifting capacity of 90t.

One of the first of these has been working since October 2019 at the port of Brindisi in Italy. Another has been delivered to Turkey. The crane has been designed for continuous operation. “Our customers operate the 9300 E 24 hours a day without interruption and it therefore has to be extremely powerful and robust,” says Attenhauser.

Its 40m boom length means that it can handle ships up to Panamax class. The cabin is height-adjustable up to 21.2m, from which height the operator has a panoramic view of the entire working area. The cab can also be moved over the ship’s hold, allowing the operator to look directly down onto the load without having to rely on cameras—though these are also installed for more safety and precision.

Maintenance of the machine is designed to be notably user-friendly. The roof of the Powerpack unit, directly behind the winch house, opens up, making maintenance of the larger components safe and particularly easy; all control and analysis units can be reached conveniently. During installation it is possible to mount the Powerpack and the winch house in two separate module units.

Another plus, according to the Brindisi operators, is the simplicity of the crane's design, which works with relatively little electronics on board. “That is in line with the Sennebogen motto ‘No over-engineering’,” says Attenhauser.

Liebherr mobile harbour cranes (LHM) are all-rounders; they can handle all types of cargo, and perform heavy lifts up to 308t at 18m outreach and up to 100t at 47m outreach. The product range covers all vessel sizes up to megamax and capesize.

Drives can be chosen from a conventional diesel engine, hybrid drive or an electric system. Closed hydraulic loops are used for all main functions such as hoisting, slewing and luffing, meaning that reverse power storage is available as standard to reduce fuel consumption.

The tubular design of their tower, they say, minimises torsion and distributes forces evenly to the steel structure and the slewing ring. This significantly increases the service life of the crane. The luffing cylinder is a tension one mounted above the jib rather than below it, and this, they say, protects it from damage from swinging loads and removes the risk of buckling.

The mobile harbour crane is modular in concept, meaning that the same upper part can be mounted on any of several different bases. When configured as a portal mobile crane, on a rubber-tyred travelling system, each set of wheels can be individually controlled, giving maximum mobility in all directions. The machine can even turn on the spot. All the wheel sets are individually steerable and have load balancing so that the ground pressure for each wheel never exceeds six tonnes. Access from all sides provides for easy maintenance and the 360° mobility ensures the highest degree of manoeuvrability.

This, they say, can be a decisive advantage at narrow quays. The same crane can also be mounted as a portal slewing crane, a fixed slewing crane, or even bargemounted crane.

As mobiles, the range can serve vessels with widths up to 22 rows of containers, which covers everything from feeder ships to the latest generation of Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs). Using manual, semi- or fully-automatic telescopic spreaders, all regular container sizes between 10ft and 53ft in single or twin lift can be handled.

The multifunctionality of Liebherr’s mobile harbour cranes means they are not limited to container-lifting. The same crane can perform bulk handling, general cargo and heavy lifts. Lifting attachments can be exchanged within a matter of minutes thanks to the simple modular structure. After selecting the software the new attachment is ready for immediate use.

Konecranes introduced their first mobile harbour crane in 1956. Since then, they have focused on diesel-electric drive systems generating power on board the machines. This drive technology means that external power from on-shore power grids can be used easily, forming an ideal match since additional equipment for energy conversion is not required. This not only improves eco-efficiency but allows surplus energy to be fed back into the grid.

They have three crane families based on the same technology. Offerings range from entry-level models suitable, they say, for start-up operations up to the Gottwald Model 8, the largest and most powerful crane in their range. It has 200t lifting capacity, a maximum working radius of 64 m and lifting speeds of up to 140 m/ min. The Model 8 can be used on ships up to super-post-Panamax and capesize. Optional smart crane features include: load anti-sway, hoisting height and working range assistants, and verifiable weighing systems.

Konecranes harbour cranes can be mounted on mobile chassis, on portals, or on barges.

As we said at the outset, it is the flexibility of harbour mobile cranes that gives them their niche in the logistics market. They can handle every kind of cargo on large vessels and small; so they will continue to be in demand. 

An Italgru mobile harbour crane belonging to Stukwerkers Havenbedrijf at the Port of Ghent, Belgium.
The assembling of a previous Konecranes Gottwald Model 6 mobile harbour crane at the Port of Adelaide in Australia. In March 2020, Flinders Logistics ordered an eco-efficient Konecranes Gottwald Model 6 Mobile Harbour Crane to add to their fleet. The new crane will be the G HMK 6407 two-rope variant. With a maximum working radius of 51 meters and a maximum lifting capacity of 100t, it can be used with vessels up to post-Panamax and Capesize Bulker classes.
A Sennebogen harbour crane, showing the wheeled undercarriage clearly.