The extra green mile


How seriously are mobile harbour crane manufacturers taking the green issue, asks John Bensalhia

When you buy a mobile harbour crane, what do you look for? Odds on, you’re looking for a powerful, efficient product that also provides great value for money. But take another look at the list – what about the effects that the mobile harbour crane can have on the environment?

A more accurate assessment of this problem would be to rate the cranes on how environmentally friendly they are and just how they can keep pollution, waste and emissions to a minimum. With all that in mind, crane manufacturers have taken green issues into account in much greater depth – not just in the finished products, but right from the production of those products.

Joachim Dobler, Liebherr-Werk Nenzing’s head of marketing for mobile harbour cranes and reachstackers, says that the company “follows a set of regulations that we follow during the mobile harbour crane manufacturing process. All our sub suppliers have to meet these standards.”

The first of these rules addresses what’s known as REACH – an acronym for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. REACH concerns the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment.

Basically, substances that are supplied to the European market must be pre-registered or registered. If they are not, this is deemed illegal (and known in REACH terms as “no data, no market”). Both materials and components have to be registered and traceable according to REACH rules.

Chemical cut

Liebherr does not use SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern), and label and package in accordance with the CLP-Regulation(EG) Nr. 1272/2008. The CLP rule regards the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures.

In addition, Liebherr uses components that comply with ILP (International Maritime Organisation) EMEP standards – this is a programme for the monitoring and evaluation of long-range shipping emissions.

Indeed, Liebherr’s status as an “industry leader in green manufacturing” is seen in other practices and codes that it follows during the preparation process. It has lowered the use of chemicals, solvents and energy consumption.

For example, the energy released during the production of products is recovered and then used again. Also, Liebherr uses water that is purified and free of pollutants, and has placed central waste and resource collection stations at its various manufacturing plants.

A recent example of Liebherr’s dedication to green manufacturing is its large component painting unit that began operation last year in Ehingen. The principle aim of this unit is to paint large product parts in a manner that results in both high quality but in ways that helps the environment. For example, the production process saves 35% of paint used, and also 60% of solvents.

In addition to this, the heat recovery process of this unit recovers about 70% of both the heat and humidity.

Not alone

The other big player in the mobile harbour cranes sector has also taken a stand when it comes to environmental issues. Gottwald’s manufacturing process is similarly meticulous, with a number of factors that cut down on unnecessary waste and pollution.

Again, water-based paints are used, and its cleaners are devoid of any solvents. Similarly, Gottwald’s painting process features an automated air-conditioning system that implements heat recovery in order to ventilate the sections that are being worked in. Further energy is saved by both light and heat management involved in the process.

Liebherr has also taken on board a number of energy-saving aspects to its machines. For example, the ECO-Control system, which is used in conjunction with a hydraulic drive system, reduces diesel consumption by up to 25%. Hydraulic pumps and motors compensate for traditional fuel power, but even with this alternative source of power, output is still strong for port operators.

Also, Liebherr’s LHM models can run on biodegradable hydraulic oil – this means that the oil can be monitored both regularly and easily, and when it needs to be replaced or changed, the operator has a much better idea of when to do so. The specially developed biodegradable oil is particularly suitable for use in environmentally sensitive areas.

The Gottwald mobile harbour cranes are also designed with the same aims in mind – to provide a strong level of efficiency, but reduce emissions at the same time. Take the Gottwald Model 3 Harbour Crane – this crane is a perfect option for fast container, cargo handling and bulk material handling. It has a maximum lifting capacity of 100 tonnes up to a radius of 20 metres.

This crane uses electricity as its energy source. It is designed so that the port operator can power it with on-shore electricity supply. This cuts out the need for on-board generators (driven by combustion engines), and so lowers the chance of exhaust emissions. When one of these cranes connects with either a low or medium voltage electricity supply, that electricity can then be recovered. This results in a greater efficiency rating.

However, in cases where the port or harbour will not allow the crane to be connected with an external power supply, there are other solutions that provide environmentally-friendly but consistently good performances. A hybrid drive, for example, can be used – this will be able to reduce fuel consumption and lower exhaust gas emissions.

Powered up

Gottwald cranes have the ability to generate their own electricity, thanks to an on-board diesel power generator. The hybrid drive comprises such a generator with an electrostatic short-term energy storage. Gottwald’s advanced diesel generators ensure low levels of fuel consumption but optimum efficiency with exhaust emissions kept to a minimum.

In addition, Gottwald’s dynamic brake resistors can be applied – these resistors can distribute much less excess energy by converting it into heat. The end result again, is a higher efficiency rating and a considerable saving on power.

The progression in mobile harbour crane technology has allowed for many diverse innovations that can save on cost and boost efficiency. But the drive to help save the environment among the big crane manufacturer names has meant that the commitment to all things green is a long-term one.

Solutions have been successfully found to run cranes with much improved energy efficiency ratings, and what’s more, they have been created using environmentally friendly means.

Leopold Berthold, Liebherr-Werk Nenzing’s director of mobile harbour cranes/reachstackers, sums up the situation: “To master the years to come, our efforts will not only concentrate on making our cranes more economic and safer, but at the same time, we will implement sustainable concepts and ideas in close collaboration with our business partners to provide the technical solutions for the future.”

Author: John Bensalhia

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