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Published: November 2017      

Steady change in the yard crane market

There are interesting trends in the yard crane market, as more terminals embrace RMGs and ASCs, while demand for RTGs shifts away from China.

Looking at the RTG numbers in the annual WorldCargo News yard gantry crane production survey (see tables 1a and 1b, p36 and p37), the figures show 471 RTGs will be delivered this year, compared to 484 in 2016. Though these figures are remarkably close, forward orders suggest production will be down slightly next year.

When the data are collected in October, there is still time for RTGs to be ordered for delivery the following year, and the last quarter typically sees a flurry of orders placed. While 2018 production cannot be accurately measured at this stage, forward orders in October are down year-on-year. In 2016, the survey showed 271 RTGs on order to arrive in 2017, and 19 during 2018. This year, there are 234 RTGs on order for 2018 delivery, and 31 for 2019.

Rail-mounted cranes show a different picture (see Table 5, p38). Output of both RMGs and ASCs is set to increase from 200 units in 2016 to 232 this year, with 204 cranes on order for 2018. Of the 2017 figure, 177 cranes are ASCs and 55 are RMGs. For 2018, the figure is 164 ASCs and 40 RMGs.

While the market for rail-mounted cranes has increased, the relationship between RMG and RTG orders is not as simple as demand moving from one crane to another. With a handful of exceptions, terminals implement ASCs at greenfield sites, or as part of major redevelopment projects where they add a new yard area or convert a large part of the yard to ASCs.

This, and the fact that most ASC terminals are relatively young, means ASCs tend to be ordered in large batches. This is certainly reflected in this year’s survey, with big orders for ASCs from Singapore, LBCT in Long Beach, Virginia, Jebel Ali, Khalifa and Shanghai.

The scale of these projects is reflected in the strong numbers for RMG production. While there are some new developments ordering RTGs, including this year at Moín in Costa Rica, Charleston in the US, and Westports (Port Klang) in Malaysia, none is on the same scale as the biggest ASC projects.

Automated RTGs

The development of automated RTGs (ARTGs) continues. This year, four RTG orders are known to be for automated machines, where the operator is in a remote control room, and some of the tasks will be performed by the cranes’ automation system.

These are the two Konecranes orders in Indonesia (eight machines for KTMT Kuala Tanjung, and nine for Persero Semarang), the two Kalmar machines for Dublin Ferryport Terminal (see p24-25), and the 10 ZPMC RTGs for HPH’s new development in Laem Chabang, Thailand. The latter project involves a Vahle conductor bar and SMG system for power and data, which also serves as a position reference for the autosteering and container position location systems.

Clearly, interest is growing in RTG automation, and, as the industry moves forward with this, it could possibly result in fewer ASC orders, as operators take a cheaper route to achieving lower operating costs, but it is still too early to know how this will unfold.

Furthermore, as the recent announcement from Konecranes regarding converting two RTGs at Yarimca (see p3) highlights, it is possible to convert RTGs delivered today to remote control – if the cranes are designed for this from the beginning.

Market share

ZPMC is still leading the league table in yard crane production, but its share of the RTG market is not what it was some years ago. Rainbow-Cargotec Industries (RCI) has made inroads in China, and Konecranes had a very strong delivery record in 2016. This pushed ZPMC’s share of RTG deliveries in 2016 down to 38%. For 2017 deliveries, that figure falls to 36%, as Konecranes (including Konecranes Noell), Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (MES), Kalmar, Sany and Qingdao Haixi Heavy-duty Machinery Co. (HHMC) all report strong numbers.

Konecranes has performed strongly this year. Its dual-brand line up, consisting of the Finnish-designed Konecranes RTG and the Konecranes Noell design, acquired from Terex and produced at Xiamen in China, has clearly strengthened the company. Konecranes Noell has won two big orders, for 18 machines each, from Bharat Mumbai CT Terminal in India, one for delivery in 2017, and the next in 2018, giving its order book a significant boost.

MES has also increased its market share in RTGs, with orders in Vietnam, Turkey and Cambodia adding to a strong order book in its home Japanese market. The largest of its orders is for 28 RTGs from Westports at Port Klang.

In an important development for the market, MES has announced that it will begin manufacturing STS and RTG cranes at a new facility in Batam, Indonesia. To begin crane manufacturing in the country, MES has set up PT MES Machinery Indonesia, headed by president director Yasuki Kishimoto.

Building capacity

MES needs the new facility to accommodate growth in both STS and yard crane production. In 2015 it expanded the capacity of its Oita Works from 22 to 36 Portainers (STS cranes) per year to meet market demand. The new facility in Indonesia will have capacity to produce four Portainers and 30 Transtainers (RTGs) per year.

“The cranes produced by the new company will not only be delivered inside Indonesia, but also exported to Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand. Production in Indonesia will help to reduce transportation costs and production costs, compared with export from Oita Works,” stated MES.

While the RTG market is becoming more competitive, orders in the RMG sector (including ASCs) tell a different story. ZPMC had 48.5% of 2016 deliveries, rising to 72% in 2017, and 68% in 2018. Part of that market share is being driven by a change in China, where RMG orders are on the rise. ZPMC has 56 RMGs on order from Chinese customers for 2017 delivery, and 36 on order for 2018 delivery.

This year’s survey also includes some historical data that fills a gap in our record of Chinese RTG and RMG production. In RTGs, order data has been added from RCI covering the Genma branded RTGs that it has produced for the Chinese market since 2014.

RMG production figures have been added from Wuxi Huadong Heavy Industry (Wuxi HDHM), also dating back to 2014, that were not available to WorldCargo News previously. These include six ASCs for PNCT in Busan, delivered last year.

In RMGs and ASCs, Hans Künz continues to grow, with the order for 32 ASCs for APM Terminals’ new Tanger-Med terminal in Morocco being a significant contract this year. The company also reports an undisclosed contract for eight large RMGs, which could be for the new Mega Rail intermodal project at Savannah, Georgia.

Leapfrogging China

RTG production for the Chinese market has dropped from 100 cranes in 2016 to 53 in 2017, and 39 forward-orders for 2018.

Looking at all the RTGs on order for 2017 and beyond, China’s share has fallen to around 11%, whereas, in the 2015 survey, the corresponding figure was 25%.

By contrast, there has been a strong increase in RTG orders out of SE Asia. For 2016, World-Cargo News recorded 61 RTG deliveries to terminals in SE Asia. For 2017 onwards, that figure has more than doubled to 155 cranes, representing 22% of the total RTG market.

The other big growth market is the Indian subcontinent, which took 52 machines in 2016, and now has orders for 105 machines from 2017 onwards.

This shift in the market is clearly to the benefit of non-Chinese suppliers, who are better able to compete with ZPMC outside of China. Kalmar has booked orders in Malaysia (Sabah state), Bangladesh and India, Konecranes has a number of orders in SE Asia, as does MES, and Liebherr has won an order for two machines to Chittagong (Bangladesh).

In fact, Kalmar’s order book this year is the most diverse, based on the geographic spread of its business. As well as a strong number of orders in the Asian region, Kalmar has booked RTGs from Australia and Chile in the Southern Hemisphere. Africa is represented with an order in Algeria, and there is business right across Europe and as far east as Vladivostok, and in North and South America.

Also making an appearance this year in the RTG sector is HHMC. It has reported two orders, one for 12 machines to the Tripoli Port Authority in Lebanon, and the other for six RTGs to CHCL Port Louis in Mauritius, in conjunction with OMG.

Coast to coast

Looking at the North American market, this year’s survey highlights the very interesting dynamic that is unfolding in the US, as ports on the East Coast invest in yard cranes at a rapid pace, whilst investment in yard cranes on the US West Coast has stalled, other than at two terminals.

This year, there are no yard crane orders to report for any of the terminals in Oakland, Seattle or Tacoma. Looking at the San Pedro Bay ports, by the end of August, throughput at the Port of Los Angeles was up 9% for the year, while Long Beach saw an increase of 7%. However, the only two terminals ordering yard cranes out of the 13 terminals at both ports were TraPac in Los Angeles (two ASCs) and LBCT in Long Beach (38 ASCs) – both are automated terminals with electric-powered ASCs.

It is likely that the West Coast terminals are holding off as the port authorities are, at the moment, finalising how they will implement the new Clean Air Action Plan, which requires all terminals to operate zero-emission handling equipment by 2030. Against this backdrop, it would be difficult for a terminal to justify buying a diesel-powered RTG with a 20-year lifespan.

Furthermore, there are no terminals in LA or Long Beach that have converted to E-RTGs yet. APM Terminals announced that Pier 400 would make the change, but it ran into difficulties over the conversion to a conductor rail system, and abandoned the project. West Basin Container Terminal has installed a cable reel system as a test on two RTGs, but this was also not continued. SSA Marine is in the process of converting some machines in Long Beach, which could lead to others following suit.

Meanwhile at LBCT, the next batches of ASCs from ZPMC are being delivered later than initially expected, to match the schedule of the third phase of the Middle Harbor development. When completed, the terminal will have a capacity of around 3.2M TEU.

The US East Coast is an entirely different situation, with terminals charging ahead with yard crane orders. The Port of Virginia’s massive redevelopment project stands out, with 86 ASCs on order from Konecranes. This includes 60 ASCs for Norfolk International Terminal, 26 ASCs for the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) expansion, and four RMGs for the VIG rail yard. GCT Bayonne has also ordered two more ASCs for its terminal in New York/New Jersey, again from Konecranes.

In the RTG sector, Konecranes dominates the USEC RTG market, and has orders from Savannah, Charleston, Dillon (an intermodal terminal operated by the South Carolina ports Authority) and Houston, plus Halifax in Canada.

Finnish rivals

Konecranes is not having it all its own way, however, and Kalmar has won an order for six RTGs from Ports America in Baltimore, previously a Konecranes customer. The cranes are of 16-wheel design, with a lifting capacity of 51t.

Kalmar has also won an order from Norfolk Southern Railway for its Landers Terminal in Chicago. Liebherr’s order for five RMGs to an undisclosed customer also has an ‘intermodal’ look to it, with the wide span and stacking height hinting at a US customer.

Another market that has sprung into life this year is Japan, which has generated orders for 23 cranes for 12 different terminals from two manufacturers, MES and Mitsubishi Logisnext (formerly UniCarriers, until a name change last month). Japan remains a ‘low-stacking’ market, and, out of the 12 terminals ordering RTGs, seven have specified one-over-four high machines.

ICTSI goes for hybrids

International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has ordered 16 hybrid RTGs from MES for its Manila International Container Terminal (MICT). The value of the order is US$22M.

“The new RTGs will improve terminal efficiency, and allow us to match demand, in terms of operational performance. Terminal utilisation currently remains exceptional, and we see no signs of congestion, despite the volume influx,” said Christian R. Gonzalez, ICTSI senior vice president, and head of Asia-Pacific and MICT. “Just as important is that we can expect a minimum 40% reduction in carbon emissions, and up to 60 % better fuel economy. A side benefit is that the smaller engines mean reduced noise levels at the yard.”

The MES hybrid uses diesel fuelsaving technology that combines 200 kVA lithium-ion batteries with the smaller diesel engine. The RTGs will stack one-over-five containers high, and span six rows plus the roadway. The rated SWL is 40t.

Overhead at AWT 4

Earlier this year, Brunnhuber Krane GmbH, part of Germany’s Teichmann group, supplied a two-girder overhead bridge crane to VCK Logistics in the Port of Amsterdam, for installation at VCK’s latest and fourth covered terminal (all-weather terminal - AWT 4) in the Suezhaven. With a lifting capacity of 50t and a span of 46.5m, this is the biggest bridge crane Brunnhuber has ever supplied as one-piece girders.

The structures were fabricated by Brunnhuber at its plant in Augsburg, near Berlin, and transported by truck and bogie to the inland port of Königs-Wusterhausen. There, the structures and components were loaded to a river-sea vessel using a second-hand, multipurpose double level luffing crane that was refurbished and supplied by Cranetech GmbH, also part of Teichmann group, in February this year.

On arrival in Amsterdam, the load was discharged by mobile cranes, and received for preassembly, erection and commissioning inside the AWT.

Baltkran for Brest

Russian crane OEM Baltkran has received an order for a double-girder widespan RMG for Belarusian Railways. It will be the ninth crane for its Brest intermodal terminal, at the border with Europe.

Brest intermodal terminal is increasing its container capacity to support increased container flows between China and Europe on the New Silk Road project, part of China’s wider ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative.

With a lifting capacity of 45t, the crane is equipped with a rotating trolley with “effective anti-sway that will reduce load cycle time and increase efficiency at the railway terminal”, according to Natalia Golovina, head of Baltkran’s economic department. “We are proud of the confidence our customers have shown in making a repeat order. This is the best proof of the reliability and performance of our equipment.”

Delivery is planned for the second half of 2018.

Automation from Künz

Hans Künz is continuing to develop its ASC design, and will introduce a number of new features on the 32 units that it is manufacturing for APM Terminals’ new Tanger-Med 2 facility in Morocco.

As noted previously, the main beams of the new cranes will feature a rounded girder design. This feature reduces the wind load on the crane, leading to lower energy consumption and, says Künz, a lighter crane that reduces the cost of crane rails and civil works.

Speaking with WorldCargo News at TOC Europe earlier in the year, sales director Michael Geiger said Künz’s first ASCs were based heavily on its RMGs, but the company has now developed a separate and distinct ASC design that better matches the needs of the application. One of the notable features of the ASC for Tanger-Med is that they will feature ladder-only access to the trolley, rather than the spiral staircase Künz has used on other ASCs, including the cranes at APM Terminals’ MVII facility in Rotterdam.

Geiger said experience shows that there is not a lot of need to access the trolley platform. In any instance, when heavy items are needed, they cannot be carried up the staircase, and a telehandler is used to lift parts up to the trolley. That being the case, the staircase is not really necessary, he said.

The Tanger-Med cranes will have drives and automation systems from Siemens, who will use simulation to develop “digital twins” of the ASCs. This will allow the cranes to be tested with the block management system and other automation modules that Siemens is supplying for the project, before they are delivered, shortening the on-site commissioning period....


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