by Michael Jordan
The jumbo ships are coming: 9,000, 12,000, even 15,000 TEUs. We will need ways to transfer containers between jumbo ship and quay and between quay and yard, rapidly and economically. Liftech and Jordan Woodman Dobson have been wrestling with these challenges for 30 years, but never before has it been so interesting.
Today, we have much better tools. Controls, lasers, optical devices, and computers have advanced, enabling a new look at ideas that were too complicated to manage just a few years ago. One idea that we have looked at again is a conveyor crane.
Early on, we realized reversing motions were undesirable and buffers were needed between operations to absorb delays. We attempted to develop a conveyor system, but met so many practical difficulties: controls, staffing, the removal of the interbox connectors, and the need for the conveyor to be 15 meters wide. We never developed a practical solution, then.
Times have changed. Our second look addresses all the difficulties and results in the jumbo crane shown.