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PT20- 29/1

Crane life cycle costs

Port Technology International interviews Gerhard Fischer, Siemens A&D MC Cranes & Laurens Franken, Siemens MC Cranes

What about the cost for consumables?

ABSTRACT For many container terminals, the cost of spare parts is more
tangible than energy cost.

I n order to assist ports and intermodal operators with A good average value for the cost of consumable parts for one
their quest to understand the true capital costs STS crane per year ranges between US$ 50,000-100,000.
associated with crane management, Port Technology A major factor to influence this cost component is the
reliability of the system and the degree of system standardization.
International interviewed Gerhard Fischer, Siemens A&D
A large variety of different cranes in a yard require stocking a
MC Cranes (Germany) and Laurens Franken, A&D MC wide range of spares and consumables.
Cranes (The Netherlands), about crane life cycle costs and
Are there any indirect costs of downtime?
issues relating to their reduction. The article is a
Actual crane breakdown data is difficult to get since often
continuation of the crane life cycle cost considerations maintenance systems are not computerized and maintenance
presented in Port Technology International, issue 17. departments are keen to prove that they have well functioning
• Depending on factors such as system reliability, maintenance
and usage etc. the accumulated crane breakdown time per year
What are the most relevant cost factors to be considered? is about 50 hours. Based on 4,500 operation hours per year this
corresponds to around 98.9 % availability.
• Depreciation of initial capital investment.
• The hourly cost of a Panamax Ship is in the range of US$ 1,250
• Cost of labour. per hour.
• Consumables, i.e. spare parts. • The cost for the crane driver, deckman and checker are assumed
• Cost of downtime. as US$ 140 per hour.
• Cost of energy. • The consequential cost for 50 accumulated breakdown hours
with regard to stevedoring staff amounts to US$ 7,000.
The following graph illustrates the relative weight of the
various cost components. • The consequential cost for 50 accumulated breakdown hours
for the shipping line amounts to US$ 62,500.
How do you calculate energy costs?
Unfortunately terminal operators often take energy consumption
for granted. The following calculation example is to demonstrate
that energy cost indeed is relevant. To keep the calculation
simple, it is based only on the energy consumption of the crane’s
hoisting system without consideration of the other motions.
a) Average weight of containers (twin-lift): 2 x 22.5 = 45 tons with
spreader/headblock 19 tons.
b) Average lifting height assumed: 20 meters.
c) Containers handled per hour: 30.
d) Operating hours per year: 4,500.
The energy needed for one move is 2 kWh. This figure is
Figure 1. Annual split of operational cost for a typical STS crane.
relatively low due to the fact that power is regenerated during
The figures were calculated as detailed in the following:
Assuming an electricity price per kW/h of 0.2 US$ over an
Why is cost of labour the most important item? entire year the electricity cost results as:
STS crane operation requires a crane drivers, checkers and the
lasher crew. Assuming a crane is operating 4,500 hours per year Costen_drives = 4500 . 30 . 2kWh . 0.2US$/ kWh = 54,000 US$
and US$ 140/hour for personnel allocated to the crane, the
annual labour cost runs up to US$ 630,000. For detailed calculation see the box on the following page.
What is the average initial cost of purchasing a crane and Is there any other energy consumed?
what depreciation is expected? The second most relevant item for crane energy consumption is
A STS crane twin lift with 22 rows outreach cost about the flood lighting. For example a modern super post Panamax
US$ 5,000,000 dependant upon detailed specification. Over container crane with 20 boxes outreach has a total installed
an assumed life span of 20 years the annual depreciation is floodlight capacity of:
US$ 250,000. At 6% interest rate, the total depreciation will be Trolley: 4 x 400 W
US$ 407,500. Girder, Legs: 26 x 1,000 W

PT20- 29/1
Considering that the floodlights are only on during the night
then the energy cost of the lighting system depends on the total
night-time operation hours of the crane. Assuming that the crane
is active during the night, maybe 25% of its total operating hours,
i.e. 1,125 hours.

Costen_light = 1125 . 27.6kWh . 0.2US$/ kWh = 6,210 US$

What do you recommend to most effectively control crane life

cycle cost?
The above Figure 1 shows that crane life cycle cost most effectively
is controlled via a high system reliability. The cost of personnel
clearly exceeds the depreciation of the initial investment.
Further relevant cost factors are the annual consumption of
spares, indirect effect of downtime and the consumption of energy.
Minimal life cycle cost can be achieved only for high crane
reliability. In other words during crane purchase the emphasis
should be on the component reliability rather than on the
purchasing price.
Factors leading to crane breakdown are of key importance since
they not only drive up cost of personnel but also require stocking
of expensive replacement parts and cause indirect cost.
Can you breakdown these breakdown causes?
Yes, the undisputed number one cause of crane downtime is
the spreader system. Modern twin-lift spreaders feature quite
complex electrical circuits with proximity switches and bus
communications. Figure 2 shows the distribution to the various
crane components should act as a good general indicator.
Figure 3. Spreader cable reel control system (Stemmann Technik) with
components identical to the main drive system.

The gantry system

The main reason for the little utilized gantry system contributing
over-proportionally to the breakdown time is the large number of
motors and brakes.
The gantry motors are particularly exposed to the environment
since they are installed directly on the land and waterside bogie
assemblies. In case of heavy weather, seawater might splash over
the motors and their brakes. The motors are also exposed to
mechanical damage from the prime movers. Particularly gantry
Figure 2. Relative weight of typical breakdown causes (in %). motors in vertical mounting (IMV1) are best protected from
water ingress if they are non-ventilated. For a non-ventilated
The spreader design the NDE end-shield will not be penetrated by the drive
The spreader sub-system is the expertise of several competing shaft and consequently no sealing problem exists.
spreader manufacturers. A purchase decision should be made
based on the following considerations:
• Spreader standardization within one container terminal.
• Reliability of spreader control system.
• Compatibility of spreader control system with main control system.
The hoist system
The high hoisting speed used nowadays (e.g. 90 m/min at full
load) along with the spreader cable reel is a major contributor to
the high percentage for hoisting system in the breakdown statistics.
Experience indicates that close coordination between the
spreader reel manufacturer and the supplier of the main control
system is a prerequisite for a reliable hoist system.
A system configuration is deemed optimal where the spreader
cable reel drive is an integral part of the main drive system and
installed in the electrical house. That way the torque and speed
control for the spreader drive will suffer least from EMI and
communication problems. Due to the relatively large distance, the
spreader reel motor feeder cable from the e-house to the trolley
platform will need to be screened.
Communication cables to the cabin are best done with fiber Figure 4. Siemens state-of-the-art gantry motors type 1LG4, non-ventilated with
Pintsch-Bamag brakes and protection beams.

2 P O RT T E C H N O L O G Y I N T E R N AT I O N A L www.p o r t t e c h n o l o g y. o r g

PT20- 29/1

Box: calculation example

a) Average weight of containers (twin-lift): 2 x 22.5 = 45
tons with spreader/headblock 19 tons
b) Average lifting height assumed: 20 meters
c) Containers handled per hour: 30
d) Operating hours per year: 4,500
How do we calculate the potential energy stored in the
Epot = m.g.h = (45,000kg + 19,000kg) . 9.81 2 . 20m =
12.6 MWs = 3.49kWh

The assumed efficiency during one move is calculated based

Figure 5. Standard industrial brake after a few month exposure to the elements.
on the efficiency of the various main components of the
drive system. These components are:
Even though seawater duty brakes in comparison to normal • Mechanical system (sheeves, wire-rope, gear box) 0.85
industrial grade brakes are more expensive (3 to 5 times the cost) • Motors 0.94
the extra money is well spent. The Figure 5 shows a standard
industrial brake after only a few month of operation in a • Inverter 0.97
container terminal. • Drive infeeder unit 0.99
The prime cause for the failure of these brakes was water • Transformer 0.99
ingress through the NDE side. Due to the absence of special
corrosion protection measures of standard industrial brakes, the The total efficiency ηtotal results as 0.76
brake will fail in a short time. During the lifting of the average container what energy
Gantry brake failures are time consuming due to large number does the supply gird have to deliver?
of motor involved. Repair and retrofitting work will be costly for
the container terminal operator. Epot 3.49kWh
Elift = = = 4.59kWh
ηtotal 0.76

During the lowering of the average container. What energy

will be regenerated into the grid?

Elower = Epot . ηtotal = 3.49kWh . 0.76 = 2.65kWh

Therefore the average net amount of energy required to

move the container crane is?

∆E= Elift – Elower = 4.59kWh – 2.65kWh = 1.94kWh


Gerhard L. Fischer graduated with a Dipl.-Ing. (FH) degree in Electrical Engineering Siemens Nederland N.V.
from Fachhochschule Munich, Germany in 1987. Subsequently, on a Fulbright Prinses Beatrixlaan 800
exchange grant he visited Arizona State University, Tempe, USA. In 1990 he joined NL-2595 BN
Siemens AG in Erlangen, Germany to work on high frequency and large-power The Hague
converters. In 1995 he changed to sales/marketing of variable speed drives. Mid The Netherlands
1996 he was posted in Siemens´ Centre of Competence in Singapore to support
build-up of an regional sales network. 1998 he moved to Taiwan to coordinate
Tel: +31 70 333 2139
Siemens‘ East Asian crane business. Since 2002 he is working with Siemens AG in
Fax: +31 70 333 3534
Erlangen for sales and marketing of crane control system. As member of the IEEE
Web site:
Industry Applications Society he published several technical papers on power
semiconductor applications, converter technology and applications of variable
speed drive systems in various industries.
Laurens Franken Graduated Technical University of Delft in 1988. He worked with
Europe Combined Terminals in Rotterdam, Netherlands as equipment manager to
build up the first automated terminals. He designed the construction of the first
automated stacking cranes. In 1997 he was appointed manager for the
mechanical department and later the engineering department of ECT. Since 2000
he joint Siemens, Harbour Transhipment Solutions, first as project manager and
now as marketing manager for the crane business.