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Not Your Father’s Cranes and Equipment

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Freight and passenger handling equipment are changing. Innovations related to technology, size, speed, cost, reliability, sustainability, and even aesthetic improvement are coming on fast, stimulated largely by the big-ship era and environmental mandates.

* By Lori Musser *

One of the few constants in the dynamic field of seaport operations is that cargo must move between ships and other modes. But the cranes, conveyors and other equipment that shift cargo from ship to shore-based mode of transport, and back again, are not the same as they used to be.

Freight and passenger handling equipment are changing. Innovations related to technology, size, speed, cost, reliability, sustainability, and even aesthetic improvement are coming on fast, stimulated largely by the big-ship era and environmental mandates.

Ceres Terminals Canada at the Port of Halifax operates several super post-Panamax cranes. Ceres’s senior vice president, Calvin Whidden, said, “They are capable of reaching 22 containers across the vessel, and measure 140 feet from the bottom of the spreader to the dock (versus 82 feet on the gantry cranes they have replaced). They operate up to three times faster. These new cranes can lift two twenties at once.” He added, “Our record is 76 boxes in one hour on one crane.” That level of production was unheard of two decades ago.

Fast, efficient gantry cranes must be served by fast, efficient yard equipment. Whidden said that Ceres’ new rubber-tired yard cranes (RTGs) are twice as high and twice as fast as their predecessors. They can also lift two twenty-foot containers. “The entire cycle is handled as if you are doing one box, but you are moving two.” The increased velocity, along with 12,500 feet of on-dock rail, means an entire ship can go to rail and be turned without delay.

Higher Reach

Neo-Panamax cranes – those that serve the largest vessels that now travel through the new neo-Panamax locks of the expanded Panama Canal – are showing up at ports throughout the Americas. The Georgia Ports Authority introduced four neo-Panamax cranes; it now has 27 in its ship-to-shore fleet – more than any other single terminal in the nation according to the port. Another six will arrive in 2020.

The new cranes are tall enough to lift containers 152 feet above the dock. The cranes allow the port to move nearly 1,300 containers per hour over a single dock.

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