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Container cranes

A container crane (also container handling gantry crane, ship-to-shore crane ) is a design of large dockside gantry cranes found at container terminals for loading and unloading intermodal containers from container ships.

Container cranes consistent of a supporting framework that can traverse the length of a quay or yard, and a moving platform called a "spreader". The spreader can be lowered down on top of a container and locks on to the container's four locking points ("cornercastings"), using a "twistlock" mechanism. Cranes normally transport a single container at once, however some newer cranes have the capability to up pick up up to four 20' containers at once. The first use of a container crane was constructed by Paceco Corp. for Matson (a marine terminal in Alameda, CA) in the early 1960s and called a Portainer.[citation needed]

A fully maneuverable version not using rails is a rubber tyred gantry crane.



There are two common types of container handling gantry crane: high profile where the boom is hinged at the waterside of the crane structure and lifted up in the air to clear the ships for navigation; the second type is the low profile type where the boom is shuttled/pulled towards and over the ship to allow the trolley to load and discharge containers. Low profile cranes are used where they may be in the flightpath of aircraft such as where a container terminal is located close to an airport.

Designers and manufacturers

A converted oil tanker delivering fully assembled cranes.

The Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Company (ZPMC) is the world's largest manufacturer of container cranes.[citation needed] Container cranes are often delivered fully assembled on converted oil tankers (the cranes are welded to the deck of the ship for transit). When transported, the cranes are 103 metres and weigh 1,250 tonnes each.[1]

Amongst the major designers and manufactures of these cranes are[citation needed] Liebherr Container Cranes[2], Kalmar Industries[3], (ZPMC)[4], TCM Corporation[5], Konecranes, IMPSA[6], Paceco[7], Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsui Hyundai and Samsung.

A container crane can can cost up to US$10 million each and take two years to deliver.[1]


Super-PostPanamax cranes in Port of Rotterdam, these overhang by 50 m (22 rows of containers).

Container Cranes are generally classified by their lifting capacity, and the size of the container ships they can load and unload containers.

A "Panamax" crane can fully load and unload containers from a container ship capable of passing through the Panama Canal (ships of 12–13 container rows wide).
Post Panamax
A "Post-Panamax" crane can fully load and unload containers from a container ship too large (too wide) to pass through the Panama Canal ( normally about 18 container rows wide).
Super-Post Panamax
The largest modern container cranes are classified as "Super-Post Panamax" (for vessels of about 22 container rows wide and/or more). A modern container crane capable of lifting two 20 ft (two 6 m) containers at once will generally have a rated lifting capacity of 65 tonnes from under the spreader. Some new cranes have now been built with 120 tonne load capacity enabling them to lift up to four 20 ft or two 40 ft long containers. Cranes capable of lifting six twenty foot containers have also been designed. Post-Panamax cranes weigh approximately 800–900 tonnes while the newer generation Super-PostPanamax cranes can weigh 1600–2000 tonnes.


All of the containers on Rita have been loaded by similar cranes to this one in Port of Copenhagen
A MAN AG container crane belonging to Patrick Corporation at Port Botany, New South Wales, Australia.

The crane is driven by an operator that sits in a cabin suspend from the trolley. The trolley runs along rails that are located on top or sides of the boom and girder. The operator runs the trolley over the ship to lift the cargo which generally are containers. Once the spreader latches (locks) on to the container with the Spreader, the container is lifted and moved over the dock and placed (discharged) on a truck chassis (trailer) to then be taken to the storage yard. The crane will also lift containers from the chassis to store (load) them on to the ship.

Straddle carriers, sidelifts or container lorries then manoeuvre underneath the crane base, and collect the containers—rapidly moving the containers away from the dock and to a storage yard.


The cranes are powered by two types of power source; by diesel engine driven generators which are located on top of the crane or by electric power from the dock. The most common is by electric power from the dock (also known as shore power) in which case the electric source is AC which can be from 4,000 up to 12,000 volts.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b "New cranes a Christmas present for Auckland". Ports of Auckland (POAL). 2006-12-13. Retrieved 2008-11-25. "The new container cranes are 103 metres high [..] Ports of Auckland invested $27 million [..] Each crane weighs 1,250-tonnes." 
  2. ^ Liebherr Container Cranes
  3. ^ Kalmar Industries
  4. ^ Zhenhua Port Machinery Company
  5. ^ TCM Corporation
  6. ^ IMPSA
  7. ^ Paceco

External links



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