Revolutionary new drive concept



Rob Kuilboer, Siemens Cranes, The Hague, The Netherlands


Reductions in emissions, noise and operating costs are becoming increasingly more important in the ports and shipping industry. The nature of the business calls for high power demands, so potential savings are high as well. Rising oil prices and environmental concerns have triggered a huge demand for more economically sound and environmentally friendly container handling equipment.

Siemens Cranes and APM Terminals have jointly developed a revolutionary Rubber Tired Gantry Cranes (RTG) drive system. This ECO-RTG® system is very energy-efficient and promises terminal operators large reductions in fuel consumption and hence reduction in emissions and operational costs.

Ten years ago, Siemens developed a rugged-design drive for use in hybrid vehicles. This technology has proven itself in the hybrid vehicles market, where Siemens is a leading supplier of such drives. These small inverter units can be installed directly in the vehicles’ engine compartment, saving a lot of space. When installed on an RTG, the need for a large electrical room can be dispensed with.

Field tests of these drives during real operations on the ECORTG ® prototype at APM Terminals Algeciras, Spain, show savings in fuel consumption of more than 50%. In addition to savings in fuel consumption and reductions in noise levels and emissions, the ECO-RTG® also leads to less maintenance and fewer fuel stops. Oil prices and hybrid vehicle technology

This year, the price of crude oil has been rising and rising (See Figure 1).

Experts in the oil industry expect a further surge in oil prices in 2005, with possible upper limits of over US$ 100 per barrel. In the oil-futures market, all US oil futures dated up to December 2011 are priced above US$ 60 per barrel. This means the market does not expect prices to fall back to levels seen in 2004. The price to the consumer of car fuel has also surged in recent months, increasing the demand for smaller, and possibly, hybrid vehicles. Over the last few months there has been a spurt in sales of hybrid cars in the U.S.

The retail price of a hybrid car model is typically 10 to 15% higher than the original version of a car, due to the installation of additional equipment such as an electric motor, drive and control components. It takes a relatively long time, around 10 years or more, to earn the additional investment back, based on current fuel pricing. However, higher fuel prices will shorten Return On Investment in due course.

In 1996, Siemens reorganised its department responsible for mobile transportation drives. With a new world of hybrid drives and more environmentally friendly modes of transportation in mind, a modular drive concept was developed. Innovations in hybrid drive trains and fuel cell technology were the initial trigger for this new development.

Since 1997, several hundred buses and trucks have been built with these types of drives. The new technology has already clocked up over 8 million operating hours of experience; which is more than the efforts of all other competitors combined. Figure 2 shows a typical hybrid bus. The hybrid system is modular and can be connected to all kinds of equipment. For instance, batteries can be included to reuse braking energy.

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