Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Felixstowe Container Handling Depends On Chinese And German Technology

Latest Equipment Arrives at Hutchison Ports Facility
Shipping News Feature

UK – Nothing illustrates the reversal of world trade over the past century than the arrival over past months of Chinese built handling equipment shipping in to the Port of Felixstowe. Whereas previously heavy machinery was a traditional British export, Far Eastern factories now turn out reliable, and comparatively cheap, cargo handling equipment along with a multitude of other products.

April saw the first rubber tyred gantry cranes arrive from the Chinese manufacturers, Zhenhua Port Machinery Company (ZPMC) of Shanghai, each capable of spanning seven container stacks and lifting up to 40 tonnes. This month the first three ship-to-shore gantry cranes, biggest in the world for their type and capable of handling containers stacked on board an astonishing 24 wide on deck. Each crane weighs approximately 2,000 tonnes and is capable of lifting two containers simultaneously up to a total of 70 tonnes.

Felixstowe South claims to be the only fully committed deep-water container terminal in the United Kingdom, and is being outfitted accordingly at a time when an increasing number of ultra-large container ships are coming in to service. David Gledhill, Chief Executive Officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited commented:

 “It was only a few years ago that we saw the first 10,000 TEU ship enter service but within the next few years there will be over 100 of these massive ships on the major trade routes. It is essential for UK shippers and receivers that we have the facilities to accommodate these mega-ships.

“With the first of the quayside cranes on site, Felixstowe South is quickly becoming a reality. We recently took delivery of the first batch of yard cranes and the main work on the quay wall is complete, with the fenders now being fitted. We are making good progress laying the 19 million concrete blocks that will make up the storage yard area and will have everything in place to handle the first trial vessels later this year.”

The electrical system for the cranes is provided by Siemens (Germany) utilising Siemens latest AC electrical drives. To assist the crane driver, the cranes are fitted with a Trailer Positioning System which recognises the trailer under the crane and aids the truck operator to correctly position the container by means of ground level indication.

The cranes also have an Automatic Skew Control which corrects any skew movement of the spreader caused by wind, vessel cell guides, or load imbalance, and a semi-automatic positioning system which allows the crane operator to pre-select a ship discharge or loading operation from which the system will automatically calculate and position the crane with an optimised path and with anti-sway control.

To increase stability of such large cranes, the distance between the waterside and landside legs (the rail gauge) has been increased from the 30m at the port’s Trinity Terminal to 35m for the new cranes.

Photo: The New Cranes in situ.