Thursday, January 12, 2012

Container and Bulk Freight Handling Company Sees a Century Milestone

Liebherr to supply its 100th Mobile Harbour Crane to Africa
Shipping News Feature

AFRICA –GERMANY - In March 2012, Liebherr is going to deliver its one hundredth mobile harbour crane (LHM), type LHM 550, to APM Terminals Apapa. Their fleet will then comprise nine heavy-duty machines operating at terminals in Benin, Luanda and Apapa. Being one of Liebherr’s major customers in Africa, APM Terminals Apapa has played an important role in reaching this 100th delivery milestone in early 2012. A review of the impact the German group has had on the bulk freight and container handling market in the Continent reveals over twenty five years of progress.

In 1976, just two years after entering the mobile harbour crane business, Liebherr supplied their first two LHM’s to Africa. Dedicated to container handling, both mobile harbour cranes were destined for Libya. In the next two decades business was poor due to serious stability issues, quests for independence as well as low economic development in various African countries.

However, two deliveries to ports in South Africa and Namibia mark the significant turnaround in 1996. These machines represent the first LHM’s suitable for bulk handling in Africa. From that point on business has been back on track. In 2001, a first remarkable peak was achieved with seven LHM deliveries to customers in Namibia and Nigeria.

The on-going economic development in several African countries has favoured an increased demand for highly competitive and top quality products, which provide maximum flexibility leading to Liebherr’s mobile harbour crane deliveries to Africa expanding rapidly in recent years. Since 2007 more than seventy Liebherr Mobile Harbour Cranes have started operation in Africa with a wide diversity of models and applications which covers container and bulk handling as well as general cargo operation. Despite a noticeable global trend towards bulk handling, most of the African ports still prefer container handling configuration.

In 2007, the Tunisian stevedoring and handling company STAM ordered their first three LHM’s and followed up since with four additional machines in the past two years. Mr Sami Battikh, STAM’s Purchasing Director commented

“Currently, we have seven LHM’s in operation in three Tunisian ports. Five are totally dedicated to container handling, the other two operate general cargo, dry bulk and containers. These cranes offer utmost performance, are robust and possess state-of-the-art technology.”

When it comes to geographical distribution, Nigeria accounts for almost one quarter of all Liebherr Mobile Harbour Cranes in Africa with a total of 24. Algeria follows closely with 21 LHM’s in operation. Moreover, Algeria plus its neighbour countries Libya and Tunisia represent Africa’s most populated region with altogether 43 machines. However, recent development shows that the southern and western regions of the continent are catching-up, mainly driven by Nigeria and South Africa respectively.

Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited is a subsidiary of the SIFAX group, which is operating in Maritime, Aviation and Oil & Gas industries in Africa’s leading LHM market Nigeria. Ports and Cargo operates terminal “C” of the Tin Can Island Port, Lagos. In 2008 the company acquired four Liebherr Mobile Harbour Cranes type LHM 400, equipped with Cycoptronic® including Teach-In feature for faster and safer cargo handling. Captain Luc Deruyver, Group Managing Director approves of the equipments abilities saying:

“LHM’s high safety standards and ultra-modern design simplifies operation of such a heavy-duty machine. Its unique flexibility makes it easy to work with two cranes at very close hatches at the same time.”

Another Nigerian company trusting in Liebherr products is Inter-Bau Construction Limited. The well-known construction company ordered two Liebherr Mobile Harbour Cranes type LHM 180 for the Onitsha River Port project in 2010. The cranes handle a wide variety of break bulk cargoes and the occasional container, an area where growth is expected. Additionally the machines can also be adapted for bulk handling if needed.

The global trend towards heavy-duty cranes may even increase the demand for LHM 550s, which is the second biggest mobile harbour crane in Liebherr’s portfolio. In addition to that the company wants to further expand its market presence in Africa with its newest model, type LHM 420, designed for versatile and efficient cargo handling with a maximum lifting capacity of 124 tonnes.

In 2011, only a few months after market introduction of Pactronic®, four LHM 550s equipped with Liebherr’s innovative hybrid drive system started operation in Africa. This cutting-edge technology provides several key advantages for both crane operators, Sogester in Angola and Intel Nigeria Limited. In terms of turnover capacity, this accumulator allows an increase by 30% leading to notably shorter demurrage. Additionally, Pactronic® leads to a reduction of fuel consumption as well as CO2 and exhaust emissions in the range of 30% depending on the operation.

Overall Liebherr are pleased with their ongoing success throughout the continent despite some difficult economic and political times since those first deliveries some twenty five years ago.

Photo:- The MV Palmerton heads out with stacks of general freight in containers plus the bulk of two LHM’s.