Installation of new STS cranes going smoothly

Training of new crane operators to commence in January.

19 November 2018 | Infrastructure

Richard Ibwima; Namport Terminals Manager; “We have sourced bids from external terminal trainers and the training will be conducted in Walvis Bay.”

Otis Finck - The installation of four brand new ship-to-shore (STS) cranes at the Namport offshore container terminal in Walvis Bay is going according to plan and the process is well on track.

The N$440 million cranes will ensure faster off-loading of containers from ships. It will also contribute to quicker turnaround times for cargo vessels and minimise port congestion.

Port engineer Elzevir Gelderbloem confirmed that the cranes are in the process of being tested for commissioning.

“The date for handing over the cranes is actually set for after the completion of the container terminal. The contractor however indicated that it will be in a position to hand over the cranes well before the completion of the container terminal.”

Gelderbloem added that Namport planned having the cranes fully operational and to start with the training of operators early in 2019.

“The recruitment process of operators is now ongoing. We have a large number of in-house operators. We will train some of them and complement this number by recruiting additional operators.”

The port authority currently has five categories for operators and a new category will be established for the STS operators.

Namport terminals manager Richard Ibwima explained that 34 operators would be trained to man and operate the STS cranes. This number allows for four extra technical trainers.

“We have sourced bids from external terminal trainers and the training will be conducted in Walvis Bay. Given the tight deadlines we have to adhere to a simulator which will be brought in to catch on and to bridge the time gap in terms of practical training.”

Ibwima said that Namport was currently negotiating with the simulator suppliers. The appointed trainer will start with the practical training component in January to cut time.

“This is being done because Namport will only take control of the cranes once the offshore container terminal is completed and handed over. The operators will then move over to the practical training component since they will have already been exposed to the operations of the STS cranes to a certain extent.”

He added that Namport will handle the normal academic selection process while the appointed trainer will do a practical selection process of candidates that will qualify for the training process.

“We currently have 30 grade one mobile crane operators and need a crew of 24 operators for the new STS cranes. We normally train more than what is required to allow for extra capacity in case of an emergency.”

The four cranes, of which one weighs 1.290 metric tonnes, were manufactured in Shanghai, China, by ZPMC and were delivered just after the offshore container terminal project reached its three-quarter completion mark. They left that port on December 30 onboard the heavy duty carrier Zhen Hua and were received on 9 February at the port of Walvis Bay.

Namport CEO Bisey Uirab who was on site to welcome the precious cargo said port infrastructure had evolved to accommodate increasingly larger container ships and efficiency.

“Expectations of customers require more powerful and faster container handling equipment. Ship-to-shore cranes were therefore identified as one of the major components of the New Container Terminal project under the EPC contract with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).”

Namport therefore acquired the four state-of-the-art, ship-to-shore cranes to further enhance port efficiency and the demands of container handling once the new container terminal starts operating. The new additions bring Namport’s cranes to nine.

Whilst a mobile harbour crane can handle 15 containers per hour on average, the new cranes can load and unload 30 to 40 containers in that same time. The STS cranes can reach a height of up to 70 metres and at peak load one crane draws 2.5 megawatts of electricity. The entire port currently draws only 3.5 megawatts.

More than 3 000 ships call at the port of Walvis Bay with over 340 000 TEUs being handled per annum.

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