Mega ship Larger ships are the major trend for the lashing industry

John Bensalhia investigates the decision-making and trends behind lashing systems for port cargo and considers the role for automation.

Getting cargo from A to B in one piece is a top priority for port operators. Whether it is breakbulk, project or loose items, the mission remains the same - securing and protecting the cargo to the highest standard.

The lashing system adopted is one important method of keeping cargo tightly in place. It is regarded as one of the most popular ways of securing cargo and there are a good number mof different lashing options available.

However, many factors come into play. The type of cargo being stored will require a different kind of lashing, the design of vessel will affect the choice of lashing system and, essentially, there is the added requirement of ensuring that the selected lashing system meets the correct safety standards.

The most notable recent trend with respect to lashing systems is the increase in the size of ships. Arto Toivonen, Naval Architect, MacGregor, and Tommi Keskilohko, Director, Customer Solutions, MacGregor, explain that because ships have become bigger, this has resulted in different criteria for how to arrange the lashing system.

“Larger ships can have up to 11 layers of containers on deck, which can cause challenges. For example, more careful stowage planning is required – where do you put all the containers in the run-up to the cargo loading? Where is the best place to store the containers? One aspect of this area is that when ships become bigger, the systems tend to be more complicated.”

The main aim for ship operators is to maximise the amount of cargo and the number of containers onboard. “The operator will be looking for the right lashing system that is best for their cargo mix and operations,” Mr. Toivonen and Mr. Keskilohko both confirm, collectively adding, “However, the more complex the lashing system, the more work that needs to be done at the port – which can then have the knock-on effect of impacting operational efficiency and safety levels at the port. However, our systems are designed to be easy to operate and to use and accessible for the port operator.”

The Macgregor executives elaborate further. “What's important is to ensure that the cargo chain flows as smoothly as possible and to expedite the cargo loading process for the port operator. In Cargotec we can cover the different parts of the cargo flow, including MacGregor's on-board cargo systems, Bromma spreaders, Kalmar’s ship to shore cranes and terminal equipment and Navis terminal operating systems. By combining these elements, ports are in a unique position to improve the overall logistics chain and efficiency.”

The choice of lashing system clearly requires careful consideration. There are plenty of services and companies available to help ports meet all the necessary criteria, such as products, calculation systems and lashing services to ensure ports meet their target of delivering cargo as securely as possible.

Pasec Port (part of the Gosselin Group) is one such cargo securing company. Based in the Port of Antwerp, Pasec assists with all kinds of cargo securing. An experienced team of inspectors and foremen ensure that every kind of cargo is fully secured, including heavy lift, breakbulk and pipes for every kind of vessel, whether it's general cargo ships, breakbulk or ro-ro.

To ensure that the lashing products match up with the right safety levels of cargo handling, the materials are thoroughly tested for their strength at Pasec's purpose-built factory or workshop.

An ideal solution for a port seeking the right lashing product is to hire the services of a company that can provide a complete design services package. MEC is a case in point, providing designs for lashing bridges, plus additional components and systems including adjustable-length container cell guides, access platforms, container stanchions.

Clients are taken through every stage of the process from the initial engineering through to the final construction designs. MEC's lashing bridge solutions are carefully mounted on container vessels with the aid of specially engineered modular deck frames. Movable cell guide stanchions, meanwhile, can be installed either on a loose or rotatable basis in the cell guides.

This method provides better flexibility for ports, as the containers can be loaded above general cargo items. Also available are lashing items – fixed or loose – for Ro-Ro and PCTC (Pure Car Truck Carriers) vessels.

As with many other aspects of port operations, the principle of lashing systems isn't a case of “one size fits all.” Recognising this fact, MEC provides lashing solutions that are designed with the precise requirements that each client has in mind. Every project is planned and designed in meticulous detail. For example, to make sure that it complies with the latest safety regulations, all stack weights are calculated on this basis.

For an extra degree of security, cargo security manuals are also provided with each system. MacGregor's cargo systems offer many benefits when it comes to lashing and securing cargo. A good system will take on board a combination of factors. These include the relevant safety rules and regulations, maximising cargo intake and keeping the process as simple as possible.

One of these examples is the external lashing system that secures the lifting side of the container, as opposed to the compressed – thus, reducing both forces. The external lashing system provides a superior weight distribution for container stacks. For lashing the various container heights, the system allows for tailor-made distances between the lashing bar knobs, thus optimising handling and minimising turnbuckle length.

As well as efficiency, the external lashing system boosts safety levels by preventing potential loosening of components. A further advantage is that all MacGregor external lashing systems are specifically tailored to each vessel design.

Another notable MacGregor product is the lashing bridge, which allows lashings to be applied on higher stack tiers. Not only does this result in a larger level of cargo, but it also provides higher levels of stability for the container stacks.

Lashing bridges can suit a wide spread of tier level requirements, available in options of one to four tiers in height. The lashing bridges can be designed and delivered separately or as part of the MacGregor PlusPartner cargo system.

MacGregor's PlusPartner initiative encompasses all aspects of the complete cargo system, which can be used for new and existing ships – in the case of the latter (the service of which is known as a Cargo Boost), this ensures that the system can be used to maximum capacity for specific routes.

In terms of the new lashing rules for route-specific lashing, MacGregor can now assist operators with the accurate calculation of a ship's route-specific cargo arrangements, thus making the most of each vessel's cargo carrying capabilities for each route.

Forankra Pritchard provides an abundance of lashing products such as claw hook ratchet lashings, loop end ratchet lashings, D ring delta end tie down lashings and rave chassis hook ratchet lashings. These offer strong load capacities of up to 10,000 kg.

The Forankra Pritchard lashing products use webbing as the basis, which is made with top quality polyester, to ensure the highest standards of use (the products are also compliant with European standards BS EN 12195-2: 2001).

Fortris offers two kinds of lashing solution, namely, Woven and Container. As well as being simple to use, Fortis' woven lashing straps are a cheaper method of securing loads on flat racks and in containers, as opposed to using the more expensive alternative of multi-way straps.

Ease of use is also a big advantage with the ready-made container lashing systems. As the systems are already assembled, this means that ports can use them instantly. The choice of polyester fibre material offers a two-way benefit.

Providing high levels of strength, the rigid polyester prevents the problem of causing surface damage. Depending on the type of container being used, the Fortris systems comprise either two lots of 2400mm long ribbons (used for standard height containers) or 2600mm long ribbons (used for higher cube containers).

One of the major issues with respect to the choice of lashing is working out the calculations involved. For example, how many lashings are needed? What are the configurations? In today's technologically-driven world, port operators are fortunate because there are various software programmes that can carry out this task.

The recently introduced Navis MACS3 API service can calculate safe cargo handling. As well as checking for stability, dangerous goods and loading conditions, Navis MACS3 API services check lashing calculations, including up-to-date regulations from all key classification organisations.

Navis MACS3 loading computers for new tonnage have been ordered for Yang Ming and ship owner and ship managers China Navigation and Eastern Pacific shipping.

Singapore-located Eastern Pacific is due to install the MACS3 computers on two 15,100 TEU container vessels, which will also include the lashing module, SEALASH, which has been approved by Lloyd's Register in accordance with up-to-date BoxMax class notation.

Veristar's lashing software is another source of calculation for ports. The software can check detailed lashing configurations for containers and stacks, applying to external, internal and mixed lashing systems. For containers, the software considers several elements including acceleration values, roll reduction factors and both horizontal and vertical twist-lock gaps. In the case of given stack and lashing configurations, the software assesses the twist-lock tensile and shear load, container fitting loads, stack reactions and racking and vertical forces in the way of both container sides.

Calculation tools and software are available for free download, meaning that the likes of Imbema's lashing calculator can be used on mobiles, laptops, and tablets. Port operators have access to a fast, easy-to-use tool that can be used on the go for ideal convenience.

The Imbema calculator tool works out how many lashings are required for each project. The calculation is decided after working out specified data in accordance with two common lashing methods - tying down and diagonal securing.

Three aspects are used to determine lashing numbers for the former method, which requires at least two lashing points, which are connected to the floor of the vessel, from one to the other.

The right lashings data considers the vertical angle (which must be at least 25 degrees, with a recommended angle of 90 for the most effective result), coefficient of friction (which depends on the materials used and the conditions) and finally, tensile force (which applies to the tension that the ratchet can apply to the lashing).

Coefficient of friction and vertical angle are also used in the case of diagonal securing, a method that uses four lashings to hold the cargo.

The lashings go backwards, forwards and sideways, using fixed points on both load and floor. With respect to the angles, both vertical and horizontal should be ascertained (the vertical angle is recommended to be between 20 and 65 degrees, while horizontal between 6 and 55 degrees).

Looking ahead, Arto Toivonen and Tommi Keskilohko observe that the trend of autonomy is growing. “Semi-autonomous terminals can effectively work if smaller-scale. However, for very big scale terminals, this is a longer journey, although there are already some good references where, for example, Kalmar has been part of the process.”

These executives offer a key conclusion. “While it's unlikely that all ship owners would follow the same lashing system, the solution is more likely to provide systems and tools that improve the transparency throughout the logistics chain.”


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