Stuart Pearcey investigates the all-important link between cable suppliers and the end client
Economic necessity has lent further impetus to the continuing drive for slicker and sharper relationships between customer and supplier.
The relationships, and therefore the companies, that prosper are those within which suppliers see objectives through customers' eyes, and as a result are able to deliver solutions to mutual benefit.
This so often involves the tired phrase of 'thinking outside the box', but although the phrase is jaded the results it delivers can be startling.
Take the need to protect port operations from the old enemy of corrosion. At the Port of Camden's Beckett Terminal, operated by the South Jersey Port Corporation close to the Atlantic on the Delaware River, technology is being 'borrowed' from the airline industry to combat corrosion.
It's in the form of 20 cathodic protection pit assemblies, due for delivery this month, to protect electrical system conduits for the terminal - though the maritime industry is no stranger to the concept of cathodic protection.
The units are being supplied by Cavotec Dabico, whose vice-president sales and marketing Dan Foster says: "Ships and port infrastructure are constantly exposed to corrosion - damage that in time undermines safety and operational efficiency. Our cathodic pit systems drastically reduce corrosion rates on all types of metallic surface."
Christian Bernadotte is president of Cavotec Dabico. He saw this development as one of his company's key strengths - the ability to transplant technology from one sector and successfully apply it to another.
"Offering port operators systems originally designed for the airports sector creates efficiencies for all involved. We hope to provide our customers with more of these synergies in the future," he adds.
Just as vital as the offering of 'new' technology is partnering customers with evolution of existing equipment, and provision of equipment with a keener environmental edge.
Cavotec is supplying technology for Russian ports on the Black Sea and the Baltic, which will allow a smaller carbon footprint than diesel-driven equivalents; an advantage for port and ship staff, as well as nearby communities.
The group is supplying advanced cable reel systems for E-RTG (rubber-tyred gantry cranes) cranes which will work for Russia's National Container Company (NCC) at the ports of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, and Ust-Luga on the Baltic.
Cavotec will deliver six double power units for use at the container terminal at the Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port, Russia's largest commercial deep-sea port operator.
Twenty-two single power units are being supplied to drive 11 new ERTGs at Ust-Luga, 110 km west of St Petersburg. Construction of this container terminal began in 2007, and is set to become the largest facility at Ust-Luga. "We have recently won some important cable reel orders for STS cranes in non-traditional markets, and have picked up some interesting orders for the electrification of RTGs," says Cavotec Specimas ERTG product manager, Diego Sanchez.
Cavotec is also involved in the construction of the new terminal at the Port of Piraeus, close to the Greek capital Athens.
Earlier this year, the group delivered 500 metres of Panzerbelt systems for the first phase of the development, and will supply eight cable reel systems for rali-mounted gantry cranes at the port.
Elsewhere, Cavotec delivered an order from Paceo USA for a cable reel for an ERTG application, and has supplied its Panzerbelt systems for the Turkish port of Bosuran near Istanbul.
"Cavotec is constantly working on innovating existing systems, and is especially focused on developing solutions that offer safety and environmental benefits. Innovation lies at the core of what we do - as it always has done," says Mr Sanchez.
"We developed a self-aligning cable guidance system for non-rail mounted mobile machinery that have power cables that need to be placed in trenches. We have a new compact fiber optic rotary joint that will not only be more economical, but will also allow significant reduction of the size of our collector housings," he says.
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