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Mobile harbour cranes make their mark

MHCs have universal appeal and can be adapted to any local environment for any kind of dry cargo. According to one industry source, the market for MHCs last year came to 130 machines

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A Liebherr LHM four-rope crane for bulk handling operations
A Liebherr LHM four-rope crane for bulk handling operations

While data is not generally available for MHC sales, Liebherr states that it supplied 83 MHCs to customers in 40 countries in 2018. Based on its observations, that is roughly a 65% market share.


There is no way to verify Liebherr’s estimate of overall market size, but the company will clearly be aware of tenders all over the world. Of course, Liebherr and Konecranes Gottwald are the ‘big two’, but Italgru has stated that it delivered a total of 18 MHCs and pedestal offshore cranes in 2018, and it described the outlook for 2019 as very positive, with turnover set to increase by 30-40%.

As of January this year, Italgru said it had orders in hand for five MHCs from 80t to 140t lifting capacity, while a further 10 MHCs and 30 pedestal offshore cranes were under negotiation, with deliveries in 2019 and 2020. Some technical developments are also underway, although the company did not release any details.

China’s Genma, part of Rainbow Heavy Industries, has two MHCs scheduled for delivery to the Port of Acajutla in El Salvador in H1 2019. They are GHC150 cranes with a maximum capacity of 150t and maximum radius of 54m. They will be used for handling containers, general and bulk cargo.

New generation

Genma is confident that its new third generation MHC designs will be a success. The designs feature ‘smart’ (un)loading with automatic learning of the optimal load path and ‘intelligent’ grab technology. This optimises the fill rate according to product density and crane outreach, leading to up to 20% greater productivity in bulk handling, according to Genma.


The tower structure has been strengthened and, taking a leaf out of Gottwald’s book, Genma has added the option of a rubber-tyred portal undercarriage so that trucks or railcars can pass underneath. The new-design cranes have a modular construction to shorten delivery times and facilitate service and maintenance. A hydraulic accumulator stores gy and reuses it, saving fuel consumption.

Another point about Liebherr’s market estimates is that it does not take account of the growing presence of hydraulic materials handlers in the MHC market. The latest machines from Mantsinen and (soon) Sennebogen are able to work Panamax ships with loads of up to 40t (see p9-10).

Biggest yet

Looking at Liebherr, the company says it sold six units of its biggest MHC, the LHM 800, in 2018, including two four-rope bulk variants for Saqr Port Authority and a second four-rope heavy lift handler (up to 316t) to the Port of Bronka in Russia.


Near the other end of the scale, two of Liebherr’s second smallest model, the LHM 180, are in service in four-rope configuration for bulk handling at India’s first inland waterway terminal in Varanasi, on the left bank of the River Ganga, 780 km east of Delhi. The cranes are also used to handle containers and general cargo.

The port is part of the World Bank-aided Jal Marg Vikas project of the Inland Waterways Authority of India. Three other terminals are under construction at Sahibganj, Haldia and Gazipur. The project will enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500- 2,000 dwt on the Ganga. The cranes were initially sold to Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group.

During Q4 2018, Saqr Port, part of Rak Ports Group ordered three very large G HMK 8410 B cranes from Konecranes for delivery in April (two units) and July this year, adding to 11 Gottwald cranes already in operation there.


Saqr Port is the major bulk terminal in the Middle East and the new four-rope cranes will handle mostly inbound and outbound coal, limestone and clinker. The grab curve is 63t (grab plus load) and Gottwald claims the cranes have
the highest operating speeds on the market.


David Owen, engineering manager at Saqr Port, said: “We have operated mobile harbour cranes from Konecranes for many years, which have proven to be very efficient. The new Model 8 cranes will help us to boost productivity in Saqr Port sustainably.” The cranes will be prepared to be hooked up to the terminal’s electricity grid.


Shipment methods

Liebherr and Gottwald have previously explained how each crane shipment is analysed in detail with the carrier according to weather patterns and the customer’s requirements. In one recent shipment, a BigLift heavy lift vessel delivered an LHM 600 from Rostock to Florida’s Port Canaveral, fully erect but with the boom and all counterweight sections removed and stowed separately. An SAL heavy lift ship transported two cranes, an LHM 550 and an LHM
600, to the Port of Ravenna fully erect with the boom attached and stowed in the high position.

The four-rope Ravenna cranes, for SAPIR and its affiliate Terminal Nord, represent an investment of €7M and each was delivered with a 23 m3 grab as well as cargo hook. SAPIR took delivery of its first four-rope LHM 600 at Darsena San Vitale two years ago. Both cranes can perform lifts up to 208t, and SAPIR is looking to perform lifts up to 400t using the cranes in tandem.


Project cargo is of growing importance to SAPIR and will be further developed with the realisation of Ravenna Port Hub. Mauro Pepoli, managing director of SAPIR and president of Terminal Nord, explained that in other Adriatic ports,
movement of pieces of exceptional size and weight requires chartering of heavy geared vessels, which are costly and not always available.




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