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New cranes set to maximise efficiency at APM Terminals Port Elizabeth

The first batch of new ZPMC Super-Post Panamax ship-to-shore (STS) cranes arrived at APM Terminals Elizabeth earlier this month. Handled by APM Terminals’ Crane & Engineering Services, they have a 23-container outreach they can efficiently work multiple ultra large container vessels (ULCVs) and Neo-Panamax Vessels simultaneously.

Maximum efficiency

Two of eventual sextuplets (the other four due next year) these replacement cranes will be maximising efficiency at APM Terminals Elizabeth in New York as they set to work at APM Terminals Elizabeth’s 6,000ft (approx. 1,830 metre) quay. Of the terminal’s 14 total cranes, ten will be of this new improved model.

The first two, riding in on the heavy load carrier, the Zhen Hua 29, made their way from China, to Houston, to Elizabeth. Impressive as they certainly are, they represent a mere fraction of the record-breaking year of crane handling by APM Terminals’ Crane & Engineering Services (CES).

Bumper year

Where CES might ordinarily handle a still-impressive 20-25 STS cranes per year, the past 12 months have been exceptional as the industry continues to redress the balance of investments and equipment post Covid-19. With close to 100 STS cranes passing through the Shanghai operational hub, this has been a period of high productivity. Surprisingly, the quadruple upsurge has been facilitated with only minimal increase in the number of employees. Just how did they do it?

For a start, it helps that CES – APM Terminals’ independent business arm – is based in Shanghai, home to world-leading harbour crane and equipment manufacturers. The 37 people-strong CES team works side by side with ZMPC to perform design reviews, quality management and inspections, project management and commissioning work for every single crane in all our terminals.

Engaged and energised

Lu Gang, Head Project Management and Commission with CES, is in a great position to comment on the productivity hike. Having spent 17 years with CES, he’s a strategic delivery expert in the ports, maritime, heavy industry and terminals sector.

“For a start, we are the only company that is permanently based at ZPMC’s production bases in Changxing Island and Nantong. We are also the only third-party inspection company that provides dedicated commissioning supervision and acceptance in the factory and on site, ensuring that all cranes properly function as specified. We work to the highest standards of reliability and quality management– and that has remained consistent even with the huge ramp up in our productivity,” he says.

The level of commitment to the task of supplying vital terminal equipment is such that even during lockdown – when CES colleagues were effectively locked in the ZPMC factories for three months due to stringent local regulations, work and camaraderie continued at an unmatched pace. “Our colleagues didn’t see friends and family for three months, they lived, ate, worked and slept in the factory. But our teams never relented in their dedication to the job and in their commitment to deliver on APM Terminal’s customer commitments.“

It took a village…

Far from diminishing team spirit and sense of purpose, the CES frontline has emerged more buoyant than ever before. “Our Employee Engagement Survey result is top quartile, and our attrition level is close to zero,” says Lu Gang.

Many of the cranes leaving the Shanghai yard now were worked on over the lockdown period. “We estimate that on average 1,600 people work on each crane. When we see them leave the island, ready to take on work in every corner of the world, it is a moment of profound pride for us all. We put brain, heart, and soul into every one,” says Lu Gang.