An industrial ballet: port cranes for container handling

Posted 24 Oct 2022

The reach stacker lift

Since the 1950s, ships harbour and port cranes such as reach stackers and straddle carriers have transformed port operations and the end-to-end logistics of global supply chains.

The slow, labor-intensive loading of bulk cargo has been replaced by standardized containers that specialized port cranes and skilled operators now handle with dizzying efficiency.

There are a variety of well-known port crane manufacturers including Konecranes, Kalmar and Liebherr (who invented the tower crane) with port crane lifting capacity of about 40 – 80 metric tons on average (some able to lift even heavier!).

These quay cranes and yard cranes play a critical role in vessel turnaround and overall supply chain efficiency.

The straddle carrier shuffle

Productivity is rated in “moves”. One move equates to an entire movement of a container from the quay onto the vessel or from the vessel onto the quay.

Being an efficient port crane operator means being able to pick, carry, and swing the container without issue, maneuvering freight with cranes costing up to $40M.

Concentration, precision, and excellent hand-eye coordination are vital, and an operator must be comfortable in high elevations and under pressure.

A birds eye view

These impressive metal mechanical structures are the visible part of the goods movement system at a container terminal.

Port crane operators sit inside a protective cockpit or cab giving them the best viewing angles for carrying out their tasks and supported by highly trained crew of foremen, clerks, and on-terminal trucks, often in 24hr port operations.

At CameraMatics we augment this crane operator support with our video telematics system that is able to deliver 360-degree visibility to crane operators and crew foreman night and day.

Our system records harsh driving events providing insights into the cause of mechanical failures, supports incident investigations and crane operator training.  In the busy port environment, it delivers crane operators the enhanced visibility they need to avoid accidents and deliver efficient vessel turnaround.