Crane barge partnership Liebherr Damen a winner
With its many years of experience in the building of barges and pontoons of all sizes, Damen has developed a reputation as a dependable and responsive supplier. Its success in the specialist category of crane barges, however, would not be possible without its longstanding partnership with Liebherr, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cranes of all types.
Vital pieces of infrastructure for many ports around the world, crane barges are indispensable where shallow waters prevent ships from coming alongside either the dock or other vessels. The combination of ample deck space and a powerful lifting mechanism make crane barges ideal for such transshipment operations, and for many ports they too act as a crucial and cost-effective alternative to expensive dredging and construction.
The Crane Barge 6324 represents the latest in a long line of joint Liebherr Damen projects dating back to 1978. With its modern control systems and its high quality accommodation, the transhipment barge has come a long way since the two companies delivered their first crane barge in 1986 to Libya where it is still operational today. Since then they have delivered over 220 crane barges across regions including Asia, South America and Southern Africa.
Liebherr has played a vital role in the success of the crane barges, alongside a number of other key suppliers, all contributing their knowledge and expertise. With a reputation for quality based on its in-house engineering and manufacturing capabilities, and its worldwide servicing network, Liebherr produces sophisticated, dependable marine cranes that give many years’ service. The Damen crane barges use models from their high performance CBG series. These offer lifting capacities of up to 35 tonnes at 36m and 45 tonnes at 32m and an average performance of up to 1,200 tonnes per hour. These can be equipped for both grab and container operations. All their cranes are certified by leading classification societies including Lloyds Register and RINA. Two of these vessels are now in operation; one in Uruguay handling bulk goods using a grab system while the other is in Vladivostok transshipping containers.
As well as the quality it is Liebherr’s commitment to innovation and continuous improvement that makes it such a valuable partner. Its control system, designed in-house, stands out in the industry as the best of its kind, while its Leader Data System records and uploads loading rates for remote productivity management, and also provides remotediagnostics for any operating issues that may arise.
Currently being tested is the new Smart Grip feature, an intelligent grab which optimises grab filling rates in a selflearning manner, helping increase the fill rate while avoiding overloads and saving on hardware.
Typically only 70% of a grab’s capacity is ever used, due to suboptimal grabbing angles and varying material densities. Trying to get these two right can be a real challenge for operators and requires a variety of different grabs to cater for different materials. As a result of in-depth analyses, Liebherr worked out the ideal grab filling model for various material densities in order to optimise fill rates. The new system also incorporates a self-learning feature that automatically adjusts its behaviour to suit bulk density, compression and granularity, amongst other criteria.
Also currently under development is the Liebherr Pactronic system, an innovative hydraulic hybrid drive that is characterised by an energy storage device.
This hydraulic accumulator is based on proven energy storage technology and allows for fast charging and discharging. It serves as a pressure storage reservoir incorporating gas in conjunction with a hydraulic fluid and is charged by recovering the reverse power as the grab falls. The energy is then stored in the compressed gas to be released pon demand. The system is virtually maintenance free and just needs visible inspections every 10 years.
Pactronic is most useful in situations where peak power is required, such as dedicated bulk handling. In comparison to Liebherr Mobile Harbour Cranes with a conventional drive system and identical turnover in terms of tonnes per hour, the Pactronic hybrid version needs 30% less fuel.
In addition to its standard models, Damen also designs and builds custom crane barges. One example of this is the 400 tonnes heavy lift version built for BAM International. Measuring 80 x 25 x 4.5m it has accommodation for 12 crewmembers, complete with a first aid room and offices. To enable exact positioning it also has a six-point mooring system with below-deck winches. Two more custom crane barges are currently under construction, destined for Australia and Saudi Arabia respectively.
It is the combination of state-of-the-art cranes that offer maximum productivity and operational efficiencies and Damen’s proven pontoon designs with their high quality, high specification designs that make the Crane Barge 6324 and its sister ships the choice of many operators around the world. Furthermore, in a market where short delivery times can often be a top priority for the customer, Damen’s policy of building for stock helps ensure that crane barges can often be supplied at time scales that other builders simply cannot match. The Liebherr Damen partnership is genuinely one that benefits everyone involved.