An ever-increasing share of world trade is carried in containers, an industry that brings with it huge demand for terminal efficiency, low cost and environmental sustainability. In order to be successful, suppliers need to commit to developing smarter and more efficient products.
A key innovator in the industry is Gothenburg-based TTS Port Equipment, a company that has made a huge investment in working to adapt new ideas and technologies to the flexible handling of standard containers.
One way in which TTS is doing this is through its pioneering use of cassette systems. The conventional method of securing containers to cassettes employs twistlocks, involving the use of personnel on shore to both attach and remove them. However, TTS’ use of rigid terminal cassettes, along with cell guides for double stacking, removes the twistlock convention from the container handling procedure. This increases safety and decreases costs as no personnel are needed to interact with the mechanisms.
“In our system the cassette acts as a floating buffer between container cranes and the terminal transport vehicles, transferring containers to or from the road or rail carrier,” says Lennart Svensson, Managing Director of TTS Port Equipment. “Using this system, containers are quickly disconnected from expensive terminal transport equipment, thus ensuring that the cranes continue to operate without stopping. This floating buffer concept is the key to our innovation in the container terminal market.”
Portsmouth container terminal
TTS has recently won a significant contract to supply this pioneering container-handling equipment for a new container terminal that is currently under construction in Portsmouth, Virginia, USA. TTS will supply cassettes and translifters capable of handling twin 20 ft containers at weights of up to 61 tonnes. Delivery will be supported by the company’s local US operation, TTS Marine.
“The cassettes and translifters will be used to move containers between rail-mounted gantry crane stacks and the on-dock rail at the Portsmouth container terminal,” says Svensson. The terminal, which is being built by APM Terminals North America, will be able to handle around one million 20 ft equivalent units of containers each year.
The contract will benefit the container terminal in more ways than one. “The Virginia operation was facing new government regulations about handling trailers in ports, because the state had previously experienced problems with trailer drivers taking their equipment – which often had no brakes – onto public roads, with inevitable consequences in terms of accidents,” says Svensson.
“APM was facing a demand from the authorities to upgrade its trailers to the kind of safety standards you’d expect from a truck on the public highway – braking systems, lights and tachographs. Of course, that would have been very expensive, and so it was on the lookout for a way of getting around this requirement. It took one look at our translifters – which have disc brakes and powerful onboard controllers – and realised they could be a solution.”