December 14, 2017: South Africa based Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has unveiled 23 Kalmar new straddle carriers assembled locally for the Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2 operations. This marks TPT's commitment to localisation and industrialisation of the country. The delivery of the 23 straddle carriers forms part of TPT's strategy to replace ageing equipment with new and modernised equipment.

The substantial capital investment by TPT of nearly R308 million will increase the number of reliable straddle carriers available to operations and lower the cost of maintenance due to less equipment failures.

A statement from the company says that the investment will also ensure greater customer satisfaction through improved delivery time of containers.

TPT has sought the services of a global and leading cargo handling maker, Kalmar, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), to supply a substantial portion of the sub-assembled components for specialised cargo handling equipment of this nature through its fellow operating division Transnet Engineering.

The partnership also involved training and imparting of technical knowledge and skills for local engineers at Transnet. One of the key milestones on the project was the local manufacture of the spreader beams by TE, which were designed to automatically locate and lock the container, operated by the driver.

Transnet Port Terminal, chief executive, Nozipho Sithole said, "Straddle carriers are a core of the terminals' container logistics and service delivering handling system. As such they directly influence the terminals' ability to handle container volumes in line with the key performance indicators provided by customers. Towards the end of their design life, straddle carriers become unreliable as components age and result in increased breakdowns. The consequential impact is a decline in terminal productivity and an increase in maintenance costs."

The statement further elaborated that the replacement of the 23 straddle carriers reaching their end of life was deemed in 2016 as an essential to increase the reliability of the straddle carrier fleet and to militate against safety risks, explained Sithole.

Thamsanqa Jiyane, Transnet Engineering chief officer, Advanced Manufacturing, notes that this was the first time the company's engineers had an opportunity to manufacture straddle carrier component kits for an original equipment manufacturer of Kalmar's calibre.

"Our team had to ensure that the interphase of the spreader box and the T-Bulk was within the required tight tolerance specification. State of the art measuring equipment was purchased for the fabrication and assembly of the T-Bulk. In the process, Transnet Engineering had to design some of the jigs to manufacture these components from scratch," says Jiyane.

The life span of a straddle carrier is 40,000 hours, which equates to around 8 years.

According to Josiah Mpofu, Transnet Port Terminals' GM, Engineering, the revised approach by TPT to maintaining and procuring new equipment has already had a positive impact on improving the agility and reliability of the service for customers. As part of the contract with Kalmar, a straddle carrier simulator is being supplied and will be installed at the MaritimeSchool of Excellence by the end of January 2018.

Durban Pier 2 Container Terminal (DCT) in the port of Durban is a specialised maritime facility with dedicated infrastructure and equipment for the handling of containerised cargo.

The terminal's container handling system comprises of a combination of ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, straddle carriers and rail mounted gantries.