Cargo Handling Equipment
July 1, 2018
Cargo and material handling equipment manufacturers continue to innovate, particularly with the trend toward zero emissions technologies.
By 2021, Kalmar, a business area of Cargotec, expects all of its cargo handling equipment products to be offered as electrically-powered versions, as part of Cargotec's sustainability roadmap that was announced in 2016. Today, more than 50 percent of Kalmar's equipment is already using electric power sources.
"The drive towards electrically-powered equipment opens up some very exciting avenues for development," says Dan Pettersson, SVP Mobile Equipment at Kalmar. "In addition to newly-built machines, we are beginning to see upgrade paths from diesel to zero-emissions technologies in existing equipment, similarly to what we can already accomplish with RTG cranes."
Fully electric, automated operations will mean a major transformation for the container handling industry, making it more efficient, safe and sustainable. Being more eco-efficient not only improves the environmental credentials of terminal operators but will also have a positive impact in terms of social responsibility, particularly because ports are typically located in populated areas, and their material handling is a major source of air pollution. In addition, an added benefit is a lower Total Cost of Ownership.
However, the adoption of next-generation technologies can also mean some challenges, for example, in terms of infrastructure, competence to service the machines (high voltage), operational planning in order to provide enough charging opportunities. Additionally, Pettersson predicts that soon, driverless vehicles will enter logistic operations in industrial and material handling, expanding the benefits of automation to the full logistics chain.
To that end, Kalmar is already looking ahead by developing mobile equipment. The new Future Generation line of reach stackers, forklift trucks and terminal tractors, will be built on modularized, adaptable platforms that can be autonomously operated 24 hours a day.
Bringing this vision to fruition involved extensive investments in research and development carried out by a dedicated Kalmar team, as well as getting input from the company's terminal operators and logistics company customers and partners across the globe. As Pettersson adds, "Digitalization within the industry has the potential to increase efficiency and shorten time in the total chain end to end. Today, the management of data within logistics will be developed by smarter and seamless connected equipment."
There's an interesting way of handling bulk cargo that is gaining attention, albeit slowly in the US and Canada. Containerized bulk handling is ideal for shipping specialty cargoes such as metal concentrates like copper and zinc.
Using this kind of system can drastically cut down on the number of times the product is handled during the shipping cycle from mine to truck, train and port. In addition, it also reduces the potential for dust emissions, contamination, spillage and theft while in transit.
"One of the key benefits of using a containerized system is that the product, once loaded into the container at the mine, is completely sealed and doesn't see the light of day until arrival at the port. We have had great success with this transport method in South America and have plans to implement this on other projects around the world." Joel G. Shirriff, Vice President & Global Practice Lead Transportation & Logistics at the Vancouver BC office of Ausenco, an international engineering and construction management firm.
The containers used for the system have a standard ISO 20-foot base but are shorter. They are open at the top, and can be tipped on their side to have the product poured out. A purpose-built piece of equipment such as the RAM 4141 electro-hydraulic Revolver can be fitted to reach stackers on shore or mobile Harbor cranes to lift the lid and rotate the container, allowing it to release the cargo directly into a ship's hold.
"Another benefit of the containerized method is the ability to easily store the containers at the ports," adds Shirriff. "As the product is safely sealed in the container, you can remove it from the truck or train and stack it up to five-high. In this way, you can build an inventory of product – say 20,000 tons of cargo – without the need to invest in a bulk warehouse."
Ausenco works with mining companies, port authorities and terminal operators if they're interested in making the conversion. "From our perspective, it's the right thing for the environment," says Shirriff. "It's the right thing for our clients in terms of getting a practical and efficient system for them to manage their exports."
In April of this year, German equipment manufacturer Liebherr announced its newest electric crane. The LPS 420 E is an extension of Liebherr's mobile Harbor crane series. Designed for everything from heavy break bulk to general cargo, the crane is equipped with two winches, each with a 190kW electric motor, with a maximum load capacity of up to 124 tons. A liquid-cooled, multi-drive frequency converter system allows the crane to adapt to unpredictable weather conditions and limited space. Operations are optimal wherever terminals are equipped with an electric power supply ranging between 380 V to 460 V.
When deployed for bulk handling operations, the new crane is capable of a turnover of up to 1,200 tons per hour. For container handling, LPS 420 E can handle up to 30 cycles per hour and be fitted with various types of fixed or telescopic spreaders. The crane has built-in flexibility for handling cargo on ships ranging in size up to Panamax and Post-Panamax, depending on operational needs.
As cargo handling equipment technological advances continue moving forward, the infrastructure necessary to support cargo operations in some areas, continues to be blocked.
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), with members from the US, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean, recently identified in its State of Freight III – Rail Access and Port Multimodal Funding Needs Report (SOF III), that in excess of $20 billion is required to address the next decade of multimodal port and rail needs. This is due to the fact that freight volumes continue to increase, as does the population, which is stretching the current infrastructure to its limits. Rail has been identified as the method of choice for the most efficient way to get cargo to its destination.
In fact, SOF III outlines that urgent rail project infrastructure improvements will cost over $50 million, and that rail access needs are projected to grow, with plans for on-dock and other rail projects being made by 77 percent of ports. Additionally, 43 percent of ports indicate better rail access would increase throughput capacity by 25 percent.
The AAPA says that the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is an essential part of the national freight strategy, but more work is needed to ensure adequate resources are put in place for greater efficiency. Approximately $155 billion in capital expenditures is being undertaken over the next five years by several ports in cooperation with their private sector partners but federal partnerships are also required to get many projects underway.