The competitive advantage of ports will be their ability to improve productivity and service levels as larger vessels call more often and increase container handling volume per port visit, according to Mika Mahlberg, vice president of Konecranes’ port cranes business unit.
“The number of containers to be handled per ship call will make productivity a major issue,” Mahlberg told the JOC. “The yard will need more handling per container as the containers will have to be stacked higher and the terminal will have to dig deeper for the boxes.”
Mahlberg said mega-ships on top trades would lead carriers to cascade larger container vessels into smaller terminals that would have to improve their handling capabilities, infrastructure and moves-per-hour to avoid congestion.
Konecranes is the global market leader in the manufacturing of port lifting equipment, with annual sea freight volume of 4,000 20-foot containers. Chief executive officer Pukka Lundmark said as a global shipper, Konecranes knows what is required by ports and shipping lines.
“We are an industrial company with manufacturing plants across the world, and we do a lot of shipping where we expect certain service levels from the ports and carriers,” he said.
However, he said not every port needs its gantries to perform at 40 moves per hour, and to address changing port needs, Konecranes recently launched what it called a reinvention of the rubber tire gantry (RTG) that brings the operator’s cabin down to ground level and uses camera and laser technology for visibility.
Called the Boxhunter, the gantry costs 25 percent less than the large 16-wheel RTG that is the crane maker’s most successful product. Prices for the Boxhunter start at $1.3 million each.
“[W]e wanted to design a gantry for those yards that did not need to be a premium product,” Lundmark said.
Hannu Oja, director of technology at Konecranes, said with today’s sophisticated video and laser technology it was no longer essential to have the cab at the top of the crane. Moving the cabin down to the ground allows faster shift changes, better communication with ground personnel and easier maintenance.
Lundmark said medium-sized ports require an RTG that was capable of 15 to 20 container moves per hour, and the new “RTG-lite” is aimed at serving this sector.
Unlike the bigger and more productive RTGs, one Boxhunter can be shipped via commercial carrier in 13 40-foot ocean containers. Once delivered, each gantry can be assembled in six weeks.
“Half of our container business is in Asia and we have an existing sales and services network here, so this will be our biggest market for the new RTG,” Lundmark said.
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