Toward a new green spec for crane spreaders



Lars Meurling and Vikram Raman, Bromma, Kista, Sweden


In recent years, considerable attention has been directed toward the development of “green practices” at container terminals. Clean ports initiatives spearheaded by government agencies, as well as voluntary industry efforts, such as those promoted by the EcoPorts Foundation, have led to a wide range of serious and innovative
environmental initiatives.

While it is true the container handling industry has a long way to go, it seems equally true that the industry has come a long way. Environmental concerns are high
on the agenda when it comes to port planning practice today.

Green practices: significant progress, in a short time

The effort by ports to systematically identify and implement environmental best practices has led Bromma customers to adopt new environmental objectives in almost every area of the port chain. Terminals have established slowdown zones for approaching and departing container ships. Cold ironing is being adopted to provide  ships with shore-side power, so vessels can turn off their engines while in port. New diesel fuel standards are leading to repowering strategies, especially the use of cleaner fuel, and lower emission “clean diesel” engines, on tugboats and ferries as well as container ships. In the USA, the first hybrid tugboat has been developed. Water in fuel emulsification programmes are being tested on container ships to reduce peak combustion temperature (thus reducing NOx emissions.) Ports are  looking at new standards for the discharge of container ship ballast water.

On shore, ports have in many instances transitioned to ultralow sulphur diesel with bio-diesel from vegetable oil, instead of using standard diesel fuel with high  sulphur content. Hybrid vehicles are beginning to replace standard vehicles, and terminals are looking at Flex-Fuel vehicles using E-85 ethanolbased fuel.

Many terminals are retrofitting or replacing harbour trucks to reduce NOx emissions, testing hybrid locomotives or setting new standards for diesel locomotives, retrofitting diesel trucks with filters, or using diesel-electric engines to power automatic guided vehicles (AGV). All-electric RTG cranes are being specified in many places, and where hydraulic cranes are used, synthetic oils are replacing standard oils, or diesel oxidation catalysts are being used to reduce diesel emissions. “Clean truck” programmes have led to the testing of natural-gas fuelled big rigs. All of this represents considerable and energetic efforts to evaluate all equipment at the terminal to see where environmental progress can be made.

Toward a green spec: structural and mechanical design approach

The port industry has thus turned its full attention to setting new green best practices, but what then of the spreader? Where does the spreader fit? What criteria should terminals consider in setting green “best practices” for spreader equipment? What might a spreader “green spec” look like?

At Bromma Research & Development at our Stockholm headquarters, advanced green spreaders represent a primary “design value” of our engineering organisation. In broad terms, advanced green spreaders are the result of decisions that spreader manufacturers make in the areas of structural design (structural design determines spreader weight, and spreader weight is a high-impact spec with reference to power consumption) and mechanical design (where all-electric or hydraulic engineering decisions are made.)

While green equipment solutions are more costly in many equipment areas at the port, in the case of the spreader, the situation is quite nicely the opposite. “Green spreaders” with a lower weight and all-electric design actually cost less than non-green spreaders, due to sharply lower lifecycle costs. Adopting a green spreader spec thus does not require financial sacrifice; going green actually confers a financial advantage to the terminal, due to lower lifetime operating costs. While terminals specify green equipment to benefit the environment, in spreaders there is no trade-off required in financial performance.

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