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Crane systems

Several hundred million containers and billions of tons of bulk cargo pass through the world’s ports each year. Much of it is loaded, unloaded and stacked by highly automated cranes equipped with ABB automation and electrical systems.

ABB has been in the crane business since 1897 and is now the world’s leading supplier of automation and electrical systems for container handling and bulk handling cranes.

Over the past few decades ABB has transformed the way that containers and cargo are handled - by automating crane and terminal operations and enabling goods to be moved quickly, safely and energy efficiently to keep ship berth times short and handling costs low.

In a typical modern terminal the containers are unloaded by a ship-to-shore crane onto the dock, where vehicles transport them to a huge stacking yard. There, automatic rail mounted gantry cranes stack them in the required position, ready to load onto a truck or rail wagon.

ABB supplies crane manufacturers with the brains in the cranes - the automation and electrical systems that power and automate the cranes

Thousands of containers are moved in this way every day in a modern container terminal. Each move has to be performed quickly and to the right destination with great precision and without interfering with other containers, cranes or vehicles.

ABB crane systems perform these moves using a combination of patented ABB technologies – load positioning, target positioning and load control systems – that enable the crane to take the shortest and safest path to the target container, approach it at speed, and load it into position with millimeter accuracy.

Ship-to-shore cranes are semi-automatic. For safety reasons each crane is manned by an operator. But the automatic rail mounted gantry (ARMG) cranes are fully automated, enabling a single supervisor to monitor six to eight ARMGs from a central control room – a considerable reduction in manpower and a massive boost in productivity per operator. 

Powered by electricity, ABB crane systems are three to four times more energy efficient than diesel cranes and produce no local greenhouse gas emissions.

ABB continues to evolve the concept of fully automated crane systems and terminals. In 2008 ABB completed the world’s first automated bulk cargo terminal at Luojing (Shanghai) in China. And in 2009 ABB launched the world’s first fully automated dual-hoist solution that enables ship-to-shore cranes to almost double productivity by loading or unloading two trucks simultaneously rather than the usual one.

Among the many benchmark installations that ABB has provided in the past decade are the following:

The most advanced terminals in the world

2000 Hamburg CTA, Germany
An integrated crane control system consisting of 52 fully automated ARMGs for the stacking yard, which has a capacity of 30,000 containers in stacks of up to five high

2001 and 2006, Tokyo, Japan
Wan Hai Lines Ohi terminal in Tokyo, 8 ARMGs

2005 Euromax, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
An integrated crane control system consisting of 16 double trolley ship-to-shore cranes, 58 ARMGs and two rail-mounted railway cranes for phase 1 of the Euromax terminal

2005 Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Evergreen Marine terminal, Kaohsiung, 6 ARMGs

2006 and 2008 Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei Port Container Terminal, Taipei, 40 ARMGs

2007 Busan New Port, South Korea
73 ARMGs and 19 ship-to-shore cranes including dual-hoist cranes that handle two containers and two trucks at the same time, thereby doubling productivity compared to conventional crane systems

2008 Algeciras, Spain
Total Terminal International Algeciras for Hanjin Shipping, 32 ARMGs and 8 STSs

2009 Kaoming , Taiwan
Yang Ming Lines, Kaoming, 22 ARMGs

2009 Luojing, Shanghai
The world’s first automated bulk cargo terminal comprising a fully automated grab ship unloader (a large clamshell bucket which unloads up to 50 tons of material at a time), a fully automated stacker/reclaimer, and a fully automated ship loader, all operated by remote from a central control room.