Addressing the Annual Med Freight Conference in Barcelona, APM Terminals’ Head of Design and Development for New Terminals, Ross Clarke introduced the FastNet crane technology which would enable STS gantry cranes to work adjacent bays of a large container ship, effectively doubling crane productivity.

Currently when loading and unloading vessels in port, crane legs dictate a minimum spacing of one bay, resulting in lost opportunities to maximize production; as the crane leg span is wider than one bay, adjacent bays are not accessible while being loaded/unloaded.

 “Eliminating the limitation on cranes working in adjacent bays enables the number of cranes deployed on a ship to be doubled, which in turn enables overall ship exchange to be doubled, without any increase in the handling rate of individual cranes” observed Clarke.

The FastNet concept calls for large horizontal girders raised 50 meters above wharf level and supported by intermediate frames. The FastNet STS cranes are suspended from the girders. The cranes are similar to the existing upper works of cranes, without the large portal frames below. As a result, the cranes are as narrow as a 40ft container and can work adjacent hatches. The operational flexibility is obtained by allowing the cranes to pass the frames using a gate in the boom structure and enabling the frames to move parallel to the quay to avoid blocking ship bays.  The large rail gauge of 55m combined with fixed openings to the yard allow for rapid and flexible transportation of containers from the quay to the yard and vice versa.

APM Terminals has been working on the design specifications and conducting computer simulations to perfect the technology and procedure for implementation. Patents on FastNet crane technology have been filed in 17 countries, as well as the 27-member European Union.