Thursday, November 8, 2018

Port and Container Operators Advised to Ensure Their Crane Technology is Up to Date

Maritime Insurance Experts Point Out the Dangers of the Swinging Boom
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – Accidents involving maritime cranes, although often spectacular, are so common they rarely get widely reported in the trade press. Ports and terminal operators often take the 'couldn't happen here' attitude, until of course it does. This week international transport and logistics insurers, the TT Club, and somewhere the true nature of risks both in port and out to sea are fully understood based as they are on actual claims, has detailed yet again the issue where the boom of a crane collides with part of a ship, something the Club rightly refers to as 'Groundhog Day'.

A brief look at pronouncements in previous years (2009 2011 et al) from the insurers show why the analogy is so appropriate. TT Club claims analyses continue to flag quay crane issues as giving rise to the highest cost incidents for ports and terminal operators. The Club alone has handled 325 such incidents over the last ten years involving all types of quayside cranes, including mobile harbour cranes, whether working on container, bulk or general cargo operations.

What of course frustrates the insurers is the fact that most of these incidents, which have the potential to cause loss of life and result in costs running into millions, are completely avoidable. Modern laser detection systems have largely superseded the established trip wire boom anti-collision systems. The Club points out that, whilst a cheap option, the trip wire is often ineffective since it is typically only activated about one metre from the boom, whereas a crane moving at full speed may travel 3.5 metres before stopping.

The second thing that the port or terminal operator should consider after the price in safety terms of under investing in what is probably its most expensive piece of kit, is simply the cost factor. The TT Club says insuring such collision risks comprise more than 50% of the costs, which can be mitigated by different anti-collision technologies, whether in full or part. Furthermore, 20% of the costs relating to quay crane issues arise in boom to ship collisions.

Not that the insured will recover all such costs in the case of a claim. In addition to obvious material loss there are factors such as wasted management and labour time and loss of reputation. Laser technology has advanced rapidly since its first introduction in this field over two decades ago. Now laser controlled crane anti-collision devices are able to work in a multi-dimensional sphere with adjustable boundaries.

Nothing can replace the vigilance of an experienced and capable operator but with the potential costs of an incident an ever present on quays that are often working 24/7, it is false economy to wait until an accident occurs before considering the option of a properly designed and fitted set of electronic sensors, something the TT Club says is costing the industry millions of dollars in damage and operational downtime annually.