The worldwide market for harbour and shipyard cranes “continues to run at a generally low level”, according to a report from KCI Konecranes. The future, however, would appear to be bright. According to another report*, published by a UK shipping consultant in October, an extra 1,100 dockside container cranes will be needed around the world by 2012. Ocean Shipping Consultants forecasts that Asia will rise again to account for 48% of all new dockside container crane orders between 2008 and 2012. Worldwide container traffic has grown 116% since 1990 and the report forecasts a further growth in traffic of between 91% and 125% during the years 2000 to 2012.

With vessels getting bigger to carry more containers, so lifting equipment has grown bigger. Super post-panamax cranes – the largest size – now account for 56% of deliveries, compared with 34% in 1995. According to Ocean Shipping Consultants, out of a total of 2,245 quayside container cranes around the world in 1998, about 330 of them were super post-panamax. Four years ago there were only about 50 of this size.

Clearly, any slowdown in orders for dockside lifting equipment over the past couple of years is a temporary decline, caused by the economic problems in Asia. And even with this decline, there is still plenty to report.

In the USA, Konecranes VLC has picked up repeat orders for rubber tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) from the South Carolina State Port Authority in Charleston. Four RTGs are scheduled to be shipped in May under a contract worth around $5.3m. This is the third order from the same customer; in 1998 Konecranes VLC delivered seven similar RTG cranes and two additional units in 1999. As before, the latest order will be manufactured in Finland and will be delivered in big sections to Charleston for site erection.

The lifting capacity of these 16-wheel RTGs is 50t, lifting height 15m and span 23m. In other words, these cranes are one-over-four containers high and six-plus-the-truck lane wide.

The hoisting speed is 60m/min with empty spreader and 30m/min with maximum load. The trolley traverse speed is 76m/min and the gantry travel speed is 135m/min. The RTGs will be equipped with sway prevention and fine positioning systems. All features are electromechanical, with no hydraulics involved. Turning of the gantry wheels is done directly by travel motors, eliminating the need for separate hydraulic systems.

Konecranes VLC also won a contract in August to supply one of the world’s largest cranes to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The value of the order is well over $20m and the crane is to be shipped in the first quarter of 2001. The crane is in the goliath category, of which there are fewer than 100 in the world. Konecranes claims that it has made most of the goliath cranes that have been built in the last decade.

Ingalls Shipbuilding’s Pascagoula yard builds ships for the US Navy and has recently been contracted by American Classic Voyages Company to construct the largest cruise ships ever built in the USA. They are also the first cruise ships to be built in the USA for more than 40 years. Under the terms of this contract Ingalls will initially build two 1,900 passenger cruise ships, with an option for a third vessel.

The 600 US ton capacity of the goliath crane will enable Ingalls to assemble sections of ships three times larger than before, streamlining the construction process and improving use of dock space.

The giant gantry crane stands about 100m high and spans more than 125m. It runs on 96 wheels down a 700m runway. The crane has three trolleys and self-controlled diesel power plants.

Similar cranes have been delivered to Halla’s Samho Shipyard in Korea and to Kværner Masa-Yards in Turku, Finland.

Other recent Konecranes’ orders include: two ship-to-shore container cranes to the Port of Aarhuis in Denmark and one to the Port of Ventspils in Latvia; a container gantry crane to Uniport Multipurpose Terminals’ harbour in Rotterdam, Netherlands; and the modernisation of three ship-to-shore container cranes built 25 years ago for Clydeport Authority in Port of Glasgow, UK.

Rolls-Royce is extending its presence in Africa, having completed contracts in Egypt, Kenya, Sudan and South Africa. In August it won an 11-month contract to refurbish two ship-to-shore cranes for the Djibouti port authority, Port Autonome de Djibouti. In February Rolls-Royce was awarded a contract to upgrade two ship unloaders for ANSDK which operates the mineral jetty at the port of El Dikheila in Egypt.

In Malaysia, Favelle Favco Cranes (M) has signed a licensing agreement with Sumitomo Heavy Industries of Japan to manufacture a complete line of RTGs under licence for the Asia region. FFC will also market the RTGs through its distribution channels under the deal, signed in October. Sumitomo has made container transfer cranes for ports throughout the world. COSCO-HIT Terminals in Hong Kong is using 88 Sumitomo RTGs, complete with full digital controls and advanced crane monitoring systems.

Sharjah Ports Authority in the United Arab Emirates is spending $20m on upgrading the Khorfakkan Container Terminal, with most of the money going on two super post-panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes which are being supplied by Liebherr. With a 50m outreach, the cranes will be among the biggest in the Middle East. They are scheduled to go into operation next November.

Also installing long-reach super post-panamax cranes is the Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia. The 53m-outreach, 50t-capacity cranes were manufactured by Impsa and commissioned in October.

Bigger than this, however, are the 67m-high, 61m-outreach container cranes delivered in September by Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Company (ZPMC) to the Norfolk International Terminal in Virginia, USA. Each crane is capable of moving up to 40 containers per hour and can load and unload ships carrying up to 22 standard 8ft-wide containers across the deck. The Virginia Port Authority has dubbed the cranes ‘Suez class’ as they can service vessels that are too large to pass through the Panama canal.

ZPMC was set up in 1992 and has seen its output rise 30% a year to $170m in 1999, establishing itself as a major world player in dockside lifting equipment. It is now working on a $20m contract to deliver four container cranes, similar in size to the Norfolk cranes, to Germany’s second largest port, the North Sea Terminal Bremerhaven. The port has also taken out an option to buy another four. In addition, the terminal has ordered 16 straddle carriers from Preussag Noell of Germany.

The Port of Liverpool has also opted for Noell straddle carriers, placing an order for 14 in October to replace more than half the 25 machines at its Royal Seaforth Container Terminal. The Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, which owns the port, is spending £20m ($32m) on this terminal.

The 40t-capacity carriers can stack containers three high and have top-mounted engines, hydrostatic semi-automatic drive and full diagnostic systems. The first four are due to be commissioned in March – about the same time that two new Liebherr ship-to-shore gantry cranes are brought into operation at the terminal. The remaining 10 straddle carriers will be introduced by the end of July.

“The new machines will service both the quayside cranes and the road haulage container transfer area,” said Mersey Docks deputy chief executive Peter Jones. “But it is at the landside operation where the impact of the new fleet will be most readily and immediately noticeable. We anticipate that the turn-around times for road vehicles delivering and collecting containers will be reduced by 30% to an average 30 minutes gate to gate.” The 25 container cranes in production at Liebherr’s factory in Ireland also includes four for Medcenter Gioia Tauro, Italy and two for Terminal Catalunya, Spain.

Elsewhere in Europe, Kalmar straddle carriers appear to be in demand. Marseille port operator Intramar has ordered 10 units to replace heavy forklift trucks following the good experience its subsidiary, Eurofos, has had with the 15 Kalmar straddle carriers it bought in 1998 for its Fos-sur-Mer terminal. In Germany, Hamburger Hafen und Lagerhaus (HHLA) has ordered 10 straddle carriers for its Burchardkai terminal. HHLA already has about 30 Valmet and Sisu straddle carriers, but needs more equipment to cope with increasing container traffic. Kalmar adds that it has also “reinforced its position as the sole supplier of container straddle carriers to the Nordic region” with a two unit order from the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Associated British Ports (ABP) has placed an $8m order for three HMK 280 harbour mobile cranes with Mannesmann Dematic Gottwald. Intership, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, already has two HMK 280s and has now ordered a third.

The HMK 280s are rated at 100t capacity and can handle both containers and loose material such as coal. ABP’s harbour mobiles are designed with a four rope grabbing capability to handle 700t of coal an hour. These cranes are to be used at the new Humber International Terminal that is being built at Immingham in the northeast of England.

Coal handling is also the primary function of a double jib level-luffing crane that was commissioned in the middle part of 1999 at the the world’s largest river port, the Rhein-Ruhr in Duisburg, Germany. Designed by MAN Wolffkran, the crane can unload 1.2m tonnes a year.

The travelling double-link slewing level-luffing crane design was chosen for its flexibility. It can unload coal from ships to a travelling hopper and also move loads from ship to dump and the other way around. The crane has a 16t load capacity with a radius between 9m and 32m and can unload at a rate of 500t per hour. It can lift to a height of 20m above the top of the rail and can lower to 11.5m below it.

The lower crane part consists of the travelling drive, the portal with round tubular column and the travelling hopper fixed with a connecting rod. The slewable upper crane part consists of the closed machinery house with all main drive parts, the A-frame with rope pulleys, the luffing drive and the jib system. The luffing drive is equipped with a hydraulic cylinder mount on gimbals.

*Container handling in ports – the equipment market, £980, is available from Ocean Shipping Consultants. Tel: (+44) 1932 560 332, fax: (+44) 1932 567 084, or