Thursday, March 18, 2021

Film Shows the Installation and Building of Tallest Ever North American Port Container Cranes

Time Lapse Video Gives a Sense of Scale
Shipping News Feature

US – CHINA – Anyone who has never witnessed the discharge at quayside of one of the huge, new generation port cranes may glean some idea of the scale from a new time lapse video shot at the Port of Oakland when it recently took delivery of three of the gigantic machines.

All around the globe the sight of the specially built vessels of the Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company (ZPMC) have become a familiar sight as they deliver the units built especially to fulfil the needs of modern container ports.

Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) operates Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT). SSA ordered the cranes from ZPMC, which when part built were sent by sea directly to Oakland where the cranes have been assembled on the wharf over the last two months. Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes, commented:

“These new cranes at Oakland are going to make a significant difference in the ability to handle cargo more efficiently. Oakland international Container Terminal is the largest marine terminal at our port; and now it’s home to the tallest cranes that can receive the biggest ships calling at North America."

The first part of the video shows the arrival of the cranes and the workers assembling a customised ramp to roll the cranes off the ship. Then you see the builders up high, in tall construction cranes to reach work areas. Acrophobia is strictly off the menu for anyone involved in such a project!

One of the most dramatic parts of the video features the raising of a crane’s mechanical housing. It takes weeks to build each crane and the third one was completed last week. The next phase is testing the cranes and then commissioning them for work. The first of three cranes may be going into service as soon as late March or early April.

To discharge from the ship, rail tracks have to be laid with the vessel specially designed to have the ability to adjust according to variation in tide heights in what is naturally a slow process. Longshore workers were employed to roll the cranes off the vessel when they first arrived at Oakland. It took electrical, mechanical and structural engineers as well as iron workers and construction crane operators to ‘build’ the cranes on site, a very complex process involving multiple trades.

Next steps are testing and commissioning of the cranes. Testing includes electrical diagnostics and structural inspections. Endurance testing is required and that means checking things like the crane motors and crane hoisting equipment to ensure that they operate the way they are designed to function, when running at full speed. OSHA also has to inspect the equipment before the cranes can be put into service. Each crane weighs approximately 1600 tonnes and all Port of Oakland container cranes are powered by electricity, so there are zero local emissions from routine crane operations.

The lift height of the new ship-to-shore (STS) cranes above the dock is 174 feet. The lift height allows for greater flexibility when discharging and loading containers. Container stacks on a vessel are similar to a giant puzzle. One has to find the right container to pull it off the ship and that means moving ‘pieces of the puzzle’ around on the vessel.

The taller cranes offer more flexibility to move the containers on and off a ship. The boom is the long arm of the crane that lowers to reach out horizontally across the width of a vessel. The boom in the maintenance position is nearly vertical at 442 feet high. The boom in its stowage position, at a 45-degree angle, is 372 feet high.

Watch the time lapse video ‘Building Giant Cranes HERE.