Monday, August 22, 2016

Maritime Crane News from Around the World This Week

One Story Illustrates the Changing Fortunes of Shipside Engineering
Shipping News Feature
UK – JAPAN – FINLAND – VIETNAM – GERMANY – US – This week one story perfectly illustrates how fortunes have changed in the past century in the sphere of heavy engineering. Before she became the economic post war powerhouse, Japan lacked the expertise to construct its own mega crane, urgently needed to work at the Nagasaki shipyards. The giant cantilever crane even now towers over the Dry Docks in the Mitsubishi yard, where it still sees service after its installation by the Motherwell Bridge Company of Scotland in 1909, despite the efforts of the American atomic bomb which devastated the city in 1945, and is a testament to the craftsmanship and engineering skills of the Glaswegian workers at Appleby’s Ltd.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall even then, as Appleby’s entered into voluntary liquidation just a year later, but unlike her sister, the famous Titan crane which still graces the city of their birth,and is these days a sightseers, bungee jumpers and abseiler’s delight, the Japanes crane still earns her living doing the job she was built for. Now the Nagasaki crane has been honoured with new set of commemorative stamps and coins celebrating the gaining of World Heritage Status for the Meiji Industrial Revolution site in and around Nagasaki.

The crane, which still has 10 other siblings in action around the world even now, was submitted by Japan in January 2014 for consideration by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2015 after being chosen as a subject for the Scottish Ten, an art project which laser scans such works and is a collaboration between specialists at Historic Scotland, experts in 3D visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio (DDS), and not-for-profit digital heritage organisation CyArk.

It is believed that the order for the Nagasaki crane resulted from the advice of Scot Thomas Glover who assisted Japan to come out from the shadows of self-imposed exile into the modern world by recommending importing it from his homeland, at the time Scotland being the undoubted world power when it came to shipbuilding and heavy industry. This was a contributory factor perhaps when Emperor Meiji invested Glover with the Order of the Rising Sun, the first non-Japanese to be so honoured.

Nowadays the battle for primacy in the dockyard crane market between European and Asian makers continues apace and Finnish group Konecranes have scored something of an away goal with the news that it is too supply two of its Boxhunter RTGs that will be delivered to Ben Nghe Port in Vietnam in June 2017. Konecranes says that the port authorities studied the Boxhunter concept thoroughly and were impressed by its new operating approach.The Boxhunter concept puts the operator in a heads-up position in a cabin down at the truck lane with video and laser technology offering good visibility and Konecranes have built a dedicated website to demonstrate the product.

Ben Nghe Port is a growing container port, centrally located on the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City. It serves both domestic and international container traffic, with a commitment to using the most modern and up-to-date lifting equipment. The cranes will be delivered in cooperation with Telin Technology & Infrastructure JSC, a well-known technology and trading company in Vietnam. Mr. Ngo Ba Phong, Manager of the Investment & Project Division of Ben Nghe Port said:

“The two new Boxhunter RTGs will greatly improve our container handling capacity and efficiency. By adopting the latest technologies, such as Boxhunter, we can better respond to the requirements of the global shipping lines.”

Meanwhile another European brand, Liebherr, has intensified efforts to reinforce its commercial position in the US with a visit from the United States Ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, to its Rostock facility. Liebherr says its mobile harbour cranes produced in Rostock have in particular acquired an excellent reputation in the United States in recent years, and are being used in ports all over the country. In 2015 approximately 10% of the Liebherr mobile harbour cranes ordered throughout the world were sold in the United States.

The company has also engaged in several special projects in the country for example the FCC 320R model which is used to lift the visitor boats out of the water at the Niagara Falls in the State of New York and to store them on the pier at the end of each season. Despite the current difficult market situation in the offshore sector, Liebherr managed it to deliver 24 offshore cranes with a contract value of approximately €50 million to the United States in the past decade.

The purpose of the ambassadorial visit was to exchange information on the importance of the North American market for the maritime industry and, after being welcomed by Leopold Berthold, Managing Director of Liebherr MCCtec Rostock GmbH, the ambassador discussed this with some of the company’s sales team.

Photo: The Nagasaki Titan circa 1913.