In a highly volatile business environment, Liebherr’s mobile harbour crane (MHC) division delivered satisfactory operational performance. In 2009, deliveries amounted to 74 mobile harbour cranes, 27 per cent less than during the same period the previous year. In comparison, the total MHC market, including all manufacturers, dropped by approximately 40 per cent.
As a result of the global recession, deliveries especially in Europe showed a strong decline compared to the same period in the previous year (-31 per cent). Spain, traditionally the top selling market, was completely down, but other countries such as Russia showed a performance way above average. With 15 delivered units, Russia was by far the biggest MHC market worldwide in 2009. Although various regions are catching up, Europe still remains the most important market for mobile harbour cranes. In 2009, Liebherr had 35 units in its order books.
No less than 19 mobile harbour cranes were supplied to Africa in 2009, reflecting a market share of over 70 per cent. The fleet of African units is mainly used for container handling, to cope with the constantly rising containerisation of goods.
Meanwhile, after two superior years in the Middle East, deliveries dropped quite dramatically to a total of two LHMs. The maritime business was actually suffering greatly from the lack of investment by our customers. Despite this fact, Liebherr also made its first delivery to Saudi Arabia since 2003.
One of the key markets for Liebherr in 2009 was India, where it delivered a total of nine cranes. Since entering the market in 2004, Liebherr has already delivered more than 40 mobile harbour cranes to India, making it the clear market leader on the Indian subcontinent. Sales in Far East and the Pacific region respectively reached two units, but overall economic development showed the first signs of an upward trend in the third quarter of 2009. This could be seen primarily in Asia. China and Korea’s growth continued and Japan also made slight progress.
Also in Latin America (five units) deliveries suffered a severe setback last year – especially in Brazil, where the market was almost completely down. Brazilian ports are known for pulling the brake with any sign of uncertainty, waiting for circumstances to get clearer, but signs show now that the market is moving again. With two delivered machines, North America levelled off just under the five-year average.
Technology remains central to Liebherr’s efforts to manufacture mobile harbour cranes. Over the next year, the company is set to increase its efforts to provide tailor-made MHC such as barge or portal solutions. With six rail-mounted portal cranes (LPS) delivered, 2009 definitely was a benchmark for Liebherr’s future sales ambitions. All LPS are equipped with an electric prime mover, which makes it possible to run the crane on electricity from an external source at the port.
All Liebherr mobile harbour cranes are equipped with a hydrostatic drive system. The simple hydrostatic drives remain standard, allowing the same components to be used throughout the whole range (LHM 120 – LHM 600) and ensure high spare parts availability and a single system for engineering support.
In addition, the hydrostatic systems have a very low ‘moment of inertia’, providing extremely fast acceleration times. The cranes attain a hoist speed of 120 m/min in less than three seconds –around a fourth or fifth of the time of a comparable linear DC machine. Hydrostatic units are one synchronous system. This doesn’t just add a general robustness; energy is easily recaptured from the crane's braking and lowering motions. Further, it avoids the power loss that you get through transiting to other energy modes like the loss involved in the banks of electrical resistors, for example.
Standard prime mover of the hydrostatic drive system is a diesel engine, so the cranes are able to work completely autonomously. Of course, all LHM models can also be equipped with an electric main drive. If the port has a quayside installation for shore power supply available, the crane can be operated directly with power from the harbour mains.
Liebherr’s performance in 2009 again shows its ability to deliver results to customers, and leaves it in a strong position to face the challenges of the oncoming years. At Liebherr, we are working to improve handling efficiency, and are further developing our innovative product range, offering our customers tailor-made solutions and worldwide coverage of the Liebherr Group’s sales and service network.