Container ships have doubled in size since planning began more than a decade ago for London Gateway, the new UK deepsea container port located on the River Thames. Today’s ultra large container ships measure up to 400 metres in length and hold more than 18,000 shipping containers. As the global race to move ever increasing volumes of trade ever more cheaply goes on, container vessels will continue to get bigger. To capture this highvolume trade, ports face the dual challenge of creating the capacity to accommodate these huge vessels, and loading/unloading their cargo in the most efficient and costeffective manner possible. With its deep-water channel, 17-metre deep berth pockets and state-of-the-art container handling equipment, London Gateway has been built to manage these ocean-going juggernauts on a scale never seen before in the UK. Once fully operational, the port’s owner, DP World, expects to be able to handle 3.5 million containers a year.
To help realise its vision, DP World is using a pioneering container handling equipment solution, which has been developed and built by marine equipment and services provider TTS Liftec. The solution involves the use of steel platforms (cassettes) and hydraulically operated self-loading trailers (tranlifters). Multiple containers are safely stacked on a single cassette, which is then picked up and moved around the port by a translifter. This system has been used for more than 20 years in ro-ro terminals and in Scandinavian steel/paper mills, and is now being taking advantage of by some of the world’s leading ports, including APM Terminals in Virginia, US. London Gateway is currently using ten TTS translifters and 115 cassettes to transport containers between its automatic stacking cranes and the railway line, as well as to and from the customs area. The cassettes have been custom built to ensure they are tall enough to align with the loading docks in the logistics park terminal. They are able to handle two 20 foot containers, or single 40 foot and 45 foot containers, and