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How can existing container cranes be future-proofed? Cranes Engineering Lifetime Extension

A small adjustment can provide considerable benefits

Ships are continuously increasing in size meaning that ports are also becoming deeper and deeper. To remain competitive, you could, of course, purchase larger container cranes, but there is an alternative. Various terminals are raising the height and extending the boom of their container cranes. This is, for those who approach it smartly, a better option. By doing so, you can save on costs and future-proof your cranes. But, how can you optimally make use of your existing container cranes?   

There is much to consider when raising the height of container cranes. There are many technical challenges, but the advantages of adapting the cranes make it well worthwhile. No matter how you look at it: to be able to load and unload the ever-larger ships, larger container cranes will be needed. Replacing the existing cranes with new ones is incredibly expensive and time consuming. While the provision of one or more new cranes can take around two years, the option of adapting saves much time, with a total lead time of approximately a year. By adapting the cranes, you can, therefore, respond much faster to the market demand, save a lot of money and continue to compete. In addition to raising the height and extending the boom, the cranes can also be improved to increase their remaining service life. Through remaining life calculations, inspections, calculation models and other clever tricks, we at Iv-Consult know exactly what the crane needs and how the crane can be adapted to last as long as possible. This is how a small adjustment can provide considerable benefits.

Challenges of raising the height of container cranes

The following was also the case at the port of Zeebrugge where currently, five ship-to-shore (STS) container cranes are being adapted. Raising the height by no less than twelve metres is quite drastic and such a project presents many challenges in terms of quality, stability, strength and fatigue. An increase of twelve metres obviously affects other components, such as the length of the hoisting cables of the trolley. As a result, additional cable length around the hoisting drum must also be possible, returning the question; can the existing hoisting drum be adjusted or should a completely new one be installed? Additionally, a twelve-metre high steel construction must also be placed between the supports. This addition must be strong enough for the increasing loads. Can the current supports, running gear and the quay still handle the increased ground pressure? All this and more must be realised within the set turnaround time.

No additions, but an upgrade

Our client in Zeebrugge has a total of seven cranes in operation, of which five will be adapted. To raise the height, the cranes are temporarily moved to a 'construction site'. It is, of course, important that the normal terminal activities experience as little disruption as possible. Despite their similar age, the operating hours for each crane are considerably different. The cranes have been placed in order from one to seven, with three and four by far the most intensively used. This is the result of the lay-out of the quay. By scheduling the cranes in order of the number of operating hours, the arrangement of the cranes can be revised without delivering extra transport costs to the customer. The advice is, therefore, to place cranes three and four at the ends of the quay; where they will be used less. This will ensure that the fatigue of the cranes is spread effectively.

Wind tunnel tests

Raising the height and extending the boom of a crane has consequences for the wind load and stability of the crane. To determine a future-proof container crane, Iv uses a specific test which involves a wind tunnel and a scale model. Cranes with increased height experience more wind surface, a higher point of engagement and increased masses. Wind load has a major influence on the design and service life of cranes. Normally, a standard calculation is used to calculate the wind load, but with a wind tunnel test, the actual wind load of the cranes can be determined. These calculations are likely to be lower than those obtained via the standard method. By using a wind tunnel test, Iv is also able to ascertain exactly how the crane behaves under certain wind conditions. How much can, and will the crane tolerate? And most importantly, can the quay support this and are additional tie-downs required? From all the data we collect in combination with the latest insights from the wind tunnel tests, we can future-proof existing container cranes!

Would you like to know more about adapting container cranes? Contact Jaco by email or call  +31 88 943 2522 
How can existing container cranes be future-proofed?
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