Taking the load
Heavy duty machinery manufacturers take on the challenges of the harsh port environment. John Bensalhia reports
When Roman engineer Vitruvius outlined depictions of cranes and heavy equipment in his treatise, De architectura, he was on to a winner. Heavy duty prototypes would subsequently crop up through history, from the invention of the piledriver in 1500 through to Brunel's patent of the tunnelling shield in 1818. Even in the early part of the 20th century though, humans and animals were used for heavy duty manoeuvres: a notion that would be unheard of today.
Technology has allowed for greater progress and sophistication and that's a good thing for ports and harbours, as there are a number of issues related to heavy duty machinery, such as operating costs, durability, reliability and safety.
“Handling equipment used in ports is faced with a number of challenges due to the harsh operating environment,” explains David Bunting, director EMEA, Hyster, Big Trucks. “One of the biggest challenges faced, both in container and stevedoring ports, is the intensity and demands of the operation. Each loading and unloading operation must be performed quickly to fit with the port's busy schedule and firm deadlines, often 24/7 and 365 days a year. Each movement of goods must also be carried out with the highest level of accuracy, due to the high cost of goods and containers. Speed and accuracy can be a demanding combination and are dependent on two factors - the equipment and the operators.”
Mr Bunting says that equipment uptime and availability are critical to support the busy operation and the often firm deadlines, so handling equipment must be built for reliability and demanding outdoor operations in temperatures ranging from tropical climates to -40 degrees Celsius.
“When selecting container handling equipment, look out for tough and reliable components that are proven in similar operations, such as robust masts, and a tough spreader design,” adds Mr Bunting. “Engine and transmission protection, as well as oil-immersed brakes and a cooling system are features of the Hyster equipment that help ensure reliability, as well as ensuring a low total cost of ownership. Service and maintenance support is also an important factor in the equipment selection process.”
As Paolo Dazi, general manager, distribution of SANY says, heavy duty machinery not only offers versatility but value, initially and long-term. “Heavy duty machinery in the port environment is becoming more and more of a support to other more efficient handling systems. The benefits of heavy duty machinery are the versatility and low initial investment compared to other equipment such as RTG, ASC, straddle carriers, and so on. Relatively easy to move, they usually maintain a good value to the second hand market and can normally be sold at the end of the first ‘life’.”
Sany's European range of port equipment was introduced in 2013 and have been designed to meet European standards. As Mr Dazi explains: “By modifying the existing technology in our European headquarters in Germany, our reachstackers have been developed in order to meet and in some cases exceed European safety, quality, and performance standards and can now be delivered with CE certificates.”
The European generation of Sany reachstackers boasts a number of new features that allow for improved performance and also reduction in the total cost of ownership. “The main highlights include the integration of AdBlue technology, full variable fan drive control, an oversized cooling system with separated circuits for hydraulic and brakes oil, fully redundant CanBus technology (both hydraulics and joystick), an automatic parking brake system when leaving the driver’s seat and redundant antitipping. Owners of the new reachstackers will benefit from a reduced average fuel consumption both while operating and idle, the service intervals get longer and the noise level reaches the lowest standard in the industry.”
The new reachstackers also gain from innovative software solutions such as the Remote Machine Monitoring and Control, a system that works via GSM and enables data backup and traceability of machine parameters, malfunctions and camera records. Functions such as joystick configuration, engine shutdown and tyre pressure can be accessed and managed online.
“A service engineer can access the performance data from anywhere via computer. Also, malfunctions that are software related can be solved remotely,” says Mr Dazi. “This helps the service engineer to identify problems before going to the work site and bring the right parts with his first visit. We also integrated an optional 360° Surround View System which provides full all-around visibility and hence more safety to the operator.”
Another important aspect of heavy duty machinery is fuel saving. Hyster's recently launched range of Stage IV/Tier 4 final compliant Big Trucks offers fuel savings of up to 25% for ports, terminals and heavy industry. “Our goal was to continue our Profitable Low Emissions strategy reducing the total cost of operations and ownership while meeting the new standards for a cleaner environment,” says Mr Bunting. “Building upon the success we have had with Stage IIIB/Tier 4i where we achieve up to 20% fuel savings, we managed to get another 5% going to Final. So we now have up to 25% fuel savings on our 2014 models compared with Stage IIIA 2010 trucks and many of our competitors.”
Safety training is a key requirement for heavy duty machinery. Mr Bunting comments that operators should be trained on the specific type of equipment that they are assigned to operate. They should also be trained in all types of fork lift operation, in addition to demonstrating their efficiency in this field. “When it comes to trends in this industry, the focus often comes back to the operator, who plays a vital role in the application with a challenging and high pressured role in the operation.”
Mr Dazi comments. “All manufacturers are requested to improve the safety standards of their equipment. This process involves, besides other aspects, the increase of electronic content of the equipment which usually brings a higher degree of competence and knowledge from the operators and the technical staff of the end user/service provider.
He adds that the key to safe operation is the right training for operators, who can hone their skills and experience. “As the ‘human factor’ is still very high on heavy duty machinery and will most likely not decrease drastically also in the future, the main safety issues are related to the normal operation of these equipment.
Technology will help reducing the level of accidents, but in many cases, it is the operator experience and judgment skills that make the bigger difference. Hence why it is important to make available to the end user the highest level of safety and protection in the equipment without affecting operations, but the main ‘task’ always depends on who operates it.”
So what's in store for this sector in the coming years? Mr Dazi comments: “The heavy duty machinery market demand will continue to grow, and it will mainly happen in applications out of the bigger port areas (i.e. logistics centers, intermodal hubs, dry terminals, etc...). Heavy duty machinery will evolve based on the requirements and needs of these growing applications.”
“Following the introduction of our previous products we recognised that our customers value the low fuel usage of the Hyster equipment, especially when they noticed a significant reduction in their fuel bill,” says Mr Bunting.
“We have developed a different strategy in the market, by aiming to deliver the lowest cost of ownership and customers are recognising that when asking for Hyster reachstackers and container handlers.
“Customers have seen the Hyster promise to proof message, with demonstrations of significant fuel savings, which are leading towards zero emissions. Our claims are not theoretical. Our customers are saying that the savings are visible at the pump and in the reduced frequency of refuelling.”
Handling the heavy duty situation
Hyster products have been helping global ports with their daily operations. The SATO Group, for example, based in New Caledonia, has found that bulk goods and heavy cargo operations have benefited from Hyster equipment which allows for safe, reliable, cost-effective work.
SATO has been using the new RS45 reachstacker which not only allows for speedy, highly efficient work, but also boasts a Sliding Vista cab that enables the operator to move the cabin forwards. This facility means that the operator can have a better view while working in the environment of a safe, comfortable cabin.
Meanwhile, Port Melbourne Containers use Hyster H22.00XM-12EC empty container handlers. These strong, durable machines allow for fast and easy movement of stock and boast an ergonomic design in the cab. As a result, the operator can work in an air conditioned, low noise and high visibility environment. The handlers also feature a strong mast and frame to allow them to deal with large, heavy containers.
Liebherr has also provided its latest state-of-the-art mobile harbour cranes for ports worldwide. Compania Porturia Mejillones S.A, for example, has chosen its second mobile harbour crane, the LHM 600 - which is notable for its elongated tower extension. This allows for both greater visibility and a higher fulcrum point, meaning easier handling. Manabique Logistics S.A, in Guatemala, meantime, has selected a number of Liebherr LHM 420s, which offer a lifting capacity of up to 124 tonnes and maximum outreach of 48m.
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