While spreader and lifting beams are two different types of below-the-hook lifting devices, used to stabilize and support a load during an overhead lift, both keep lifting slings below at or near a 90° angle, to avoid damage to a load, damage to rigging hardware and lifting slings, and they help to keep slings sliding off of the load during a lift.

In a recent report by Mazella, a spreader beam is a simple bar that holds two slings apart and distributes the weight over two or more pick points. Two lugs on top of the bar are each attached at an angle with a chain or sling that is connected to the crane. They’re most often used for very wide or heavy loads. The main difference between the two types of lifting devices is the types of forces that are applied to the beam.

Mazella states: “Spreader beams convert lifting loads into compressive forces in the bar and tensile forces in the slings. Because of this, spreader beams are highly efficient in their use of material, so they’re typically smaller, lighter, and less expensive to design and manufacture than a lifting beam.

“Because they use two lifting points instead of one singular lifting point, the weight of the load is distributed evenly across the beam, which eliminates the stress on a single lifting point. Spreader beams are ideal for lifting very wide or heavyduty loads. They also help control the load and when rigged properly, can reduce the chances of load tipping, sliding, bending, crushing or damage to the load, because you can control the sling angles.

“However, disadvantages include spreader beams have top rigging consisting of wire rope, chain slings, or synthetic slings, so they’re not ideal in situations where overhead room may be limited. Long beams or uneven loads may require a tag line to keep the load under control and reduce the possibility of spinning.

“If the load needs to be supported all the way throughout its length, then a lifting beam may be more beneficial because it will have more lifting points on the bottom side to support the center of the load, as well as lifting points at both ends of the beam.”

According to RAM Spreaders, Mobile Harbour Crane (MHC) spreaders make up over a third of cranes being used at ports and terminals. Or are used as a backup for ship-to-shore gantries or use giant MHC cranes such as the LHM 600, while smaller terminals prefer the higher flexibility of solely using MHC cranes to un/load cargo.

They can manouver in any direction, and can be positioned along the port’s terminals, cargo storage areas, or rail yards.

As MHC equipment handles heavy loads, and operates in demanding environments, they must be maintained correctly and equipped with the correct safety features. In doing so, ports ensure the well-being of their operators, stevedores and others working nearby. Improving safety creates a ripple effect on employee confidence, leading to higher productivity.

“The best thing ports and terminals can do to improve the safety of mobile harbour crane container handling include; having mechanical blockading and interlocks; a centre of gravity post tower system to enhance the spreader’s centre of gravity capabilities while handling eccentric container loads and correct periodical maintenance to avoid downtime as a result of breakdowns due to inadequate maintenance,” a spokesman for RAM Spreaders said.

For example, RAM Spreaders recently upgraded two Revolvers, which were approaching a decade of service at LINX Port Services in Port Kembla Australia, which was being used to move containerised bulk handling to load copper concentrate.

The contract was to refurbish and replace old worn parts; modernise the equipment with newer more reliable technology like remote diagnosis; train the technical team to become more familiar with the equipment and solve problems quicker.

The refurbishment process was not just about replacing worn-out parts. It was also an opportunity to modernize the decadeold Revolvers. Upgrades included an improved lid lifter, which now requires less maintenance and enhances efficiency in removing the lid. The encoders were also upgraded for better rotational efficiency and durability.

It also introduced a Virtual HMI upgrade which now allows for wireless diagnostics and fault findings, reducing unnecessary downtime and enhancing the uptime of the spreader.

“Identifying the problem is 90% of the issue solved. Our virtual HMI diagnostics accelerate this,” a spokesman for RAM Spreaders said.

The refurbishment and upgrade process also provided an opportunity for RAM Spreaders to provide training to the port staff. This included operational training, maintenance training, and upgrade system training.

The operational training focused on improving the handling of the rotating spreader, such as identifying feedback from the crane and removing the container from the vessel before it has fully completed the 360 degrees rotation. The port now saves 20 seconds each cycle during the unloading process.

The maintenance training refreshed the original team’s knowledge and brought new members of staff up to speed on the correct maintenance of the RAM Revolver. They also received training on how to take advantage of the upgrades such as fault findings through the Virtual HMI Diagnostics.

The outcome of the refurbishment and upgrade process has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Since the refurbishment, the reliability of the Revolvers has increased significantly. Having the RAM team at the site for two weeks meant our team had hands-on training and using the new fault diagnosis system, we can solve problems faster,” said Adrian Moore, asset manager, LINX Port Services.

For Port Kembla, this investment meant their operations can continue more efficiently for years to come without repurchasing new equipment at higher costs.


Visy TopView has a spreader OCR camera system which automatically identifies container IDs from the tops of containers, transforming spreaders into smart devices with its in-house recognition software.

The TopView accelerates container handling processes and prevents timeconsuming false lifts, which helps to increase a terminal’s operating capacity and stack accuracy. With this device, no container is being stacked to a wrong location regardless of whether the operation commences over vessel, truck, train, or yard.

The software recognizes container IDs while crane operations are ongoing, providing efficiency and accuracy in container handling. It also enhances safety and security by reducing the need for manual work in the immediate vicinity of the cranes.

Visy TopView utilizes vision technology to prevent lift accidents: Its network determines the container formation from the spreader camera images and compares it with the spreader setting. An alert is sent to the crane operator if the selected lift type does not match the images, preventing accidental twin lifts when the spreader is in single lift position.

The technology comes as a compact system in which all equipment is installed directly on the spreaders, including cameras, illuminators, and the recognition PC. Intelligent OCR software selects the best results to achieve recognition rates of up to 99.5% and verifies that each movement of cargo goes as planned.

The system is a reliable partner for terminal operators in container handling processes, as it gathers recognition data while cranes are in action, regardless of the time of day or environmental condition.


As part of its investment in an electric infrastructure, Borg Havn in Norway chose the Liebherr LPS 420 E mobile harbour crane to help meet its climate goals while offering multipurpose cargo handling options.

The all-electric portal slewing crane from Liebherr will be the first of its kind delivered in Norway and, with a turnover of up to 1,200 tons per hour, exceeds the average turnover of comparable electrically driven cranes in the market. All of the crane’s movements – such as luffing, hoisting, slewing and travelling – are made using electric motors.

The LPS 420 E can be supplied with high or low-voltage configurations, depending on the transformer requirements, which ensures that Borg Havn can fulfil its logistical operations while also reducing its environmental footprint.

The LPS 420 E crane will be used in handling containerised, bulk, general and heavy lift cargo weighing up to 124 tons at Borg Havn, which is the third-biggest container port in Norway with 67,249 TEU moving through the gateway in 2021 – an increase of 14% compared with 2020.

The contract for the new crane, which is the first Liebherr crane to be acquired by the port, was entered into last year.

“This is a large investment for Borg Havn,” said port director Tore Lundestad. “Renewing and modernising our crane fleet in line with harbour activity is crucial to us. Among the main reasons for our investment in the LPS 420 E is its more environmentally friendly profile, which allows us to greatly reduce emissions and noise in the area.”

It is estimated that as much as 7% of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping occur while vessels are stationary in the harbour. The vessels also require electricity on board when they are docked, meaning that auxiliary engines are running to provide heat or light, or assist with loading and unloading.

The investment in shore power at Borg Havn is an important measure to cut emissions and contribute to reaching Fredrikstad’s ambitious climate goals.

Borg Havn also produces its own energy from solar cells that are connected to an internal grid. With a maximum output of 2 MW, the cells – in addition to shore power – can power all five cranes in the port on sunny days.

Based on the modern electric infrastructure at the port, the LPS 420 E is equipped with a Liebherr active-frontend frequency converter meaning that deviations in the voltage supply chain can be compensated easily for safe and stable operations.

To accommodate potentially limited space and any harsh environmental conditions, a liquid-cooled and highly efficient performance capacitor system has been implemented. This Liebherrbuilt component, known as LiCaTronic, has proven itself in Liebherr ship-to-shore gantry cranes and material handlers.

“We are proud to welcome to our Liebherr family such a new customer as Port of Borg. With our LPS 420 E and outstanding customer service, we will support an ambitious target of Port of Borg and develop a new partnership for the future,” said Roman Chopyk, area manager, Liebherr mobile harbour cranes.

The LPS 420 E raises the bar in terms of electrical driven bulk handling performance. With up to 30 cycles per hour, the LPS 420 E is the perfect solution when it comes to container handling performance. The crane can be fitted with various types of fixed or telescopic spreaders on a 60-ton load chart for twinlift container operations.

A maximum outreach of up to 48 metres allows for ships up to Panamax class size to be served. This makes the crane the ideal electrical driven solution for bulk handling, said Liebherr.

The main components of the E-drive are liquid-cooled and the heat is dissipated by heat exchangers. The fully closed liquid cooling system in combination with the heat exchanger are installed on top of the slewing platform. This means that no overpressure unit is necessary to prevent dust coming inside the machinery house, which is a big benefit for cranes working in a dusty environment.

It is this overall combination of dynamic operation and environmental benefits that has made the LPS 420 E a suitable fit for Borg Havn.


Jan De Nul Group has ordered a 3,500 ton spreader beam from Dutch heavy lift crane manufacturer Huisman. The beam is equipped with an automated sling handling system with remote controls powered by an on-board battery pack with integrated automatic charging system.

The spreader beam will be used to lift monopiles for the largest offshore wind turbine foundations, and be used with Jan De Nul’s 3,000 to Huisman Leg encircling crane onboard the Voltaire offshore jack-up installation vessel, and the brand new 5,000 ton Huisman tub mounted crane onboard the Les Alizés heavy lift vessel, which has just started its first mission transporting and installing 107 monopile foundations and one offshore substation topside for Ørsted’s Gode Wind 3 and Borkum Riffgrund 3 offshore wind farms in Germany.

In a statement Huisman said: “This proven design increases safe and efficient monopile handling and will enable Jan De Nul Group to handle the largest monopiles in a safe and controlled manner. Safe operations are ensured by reducing the number of personnel on deck.”

As monopile foundations and wind turbine generators increase in size and weight, so safe handling on deck during the installation process has become ever-more important.

Italy-based Remazel Engineering was also contracted to provide equipment used during the installation of monopiles from Les Alizés, including cradles, a monopile skidding system and an upending hinge, which were recently assembled and installed on the vessel, ready for integration.

The company says the fully automated monopile installation system is designed to handle new-generation XXL monopiles. Among the challenges the company faced designing and engineering the equipment were what it describes as “the remarkable dimensions of the system.”


Modulift recently launched the Trunnion Modular Spreader Beam to ease the attachment of slings when rigging heavy lifts. Its high-capacity lifting operations, includes cutting rigging time by up to half, compared to similar applications using standard rigs below the hook.

A trunnion is one of a pair of projections attached to opposite sides of a structure to provide a support about which it can turn. The trunnions on the ends of the Modulift spreader allows slings to be connected directly to the spreader beam, eliminating the need for a drop link.

The trunnion spreader will initially be launched in four sizes—MOD110, MOD250, MOD400 and MOD600—covering a range of capacities from 110t to 1,000t. The shackle-less solution is a standard modular spreader, using the same struts and bolting configurations, and is, fully compatible with current and legacy equipment.

“The difference is apparent when looking at the end unit, the focal point of the product that will enable us to appeal to customers who are primarily concerned with ease of assembly and currently use drop link and shackle configurations,” said Sarah Spivey, MD, Modulift.

She added other features include; improved safety, given there are no heavy shackles and drop links to maneuver; time saved due to more efficient rigging; cost efficiency over standard spreader rigs; and the Modulift hallmark of modular design.

At the capacity in which the larger trunnion spreaders will operate, removal of shackles and drop links from the design can vastly improve user safety. Shackles and drop links of that size can weigh up to 2,204 lbs. (1,000kg), meaning they are difficult to handle, and incidents can occur.

The three higher capacity models are anticipated to generate the highest demand. The MOD250 reaches 440 tons (400 tons) capacity at 26 ft. (8m) and derated up to 65’7” (20m); the 400 reaches up to 660 tons (600 tons) at 40 ft. (12m) and de-rated up to 75’6” (23m); and the 600 can be used to 1,100 tons (1,000 tons) at 49 ft. (15m) and de-rated up to 85’4” (26m), per the manufacturer’s standard 600XB/1000 spreader.

The current range has been developed according to BS EN 1993-1. Further sizes can be designed on a custom basis and additions to the range may be manufactured in future if demand is sufficient.