Noteworthy on the list are two Class 4 cranes, the first to be built by BB and possibly the first of this class ever manufactured in the Mother City. The very heavy-duty, double-girder overhead travelling cranes, identical in design, are capable of two and three-shift operation, and feature fast long-travel and cross-travel speeds to maximise productivity.

To be installed in a Wellington factory producing export-grade charcoal from invasive alien trees, the twin cranes will be hard working machines moving charcoal pots in a continuous cycle between kilns and the cooling and packing stations. 

The identical 5-tonners will have spans of 15 metres and lifting heights of 9,4 metres. Controlled by pendants, they will lift at speeds of up to 8 metres per minute. Cross-travel speeds will be 38 metres per minute, and long-travel speeds anything up to 80 metres per minute, equivalent to an exercise-paced walk.

“This order is significant for BB Cranes because it demonstrates that machines with this type of advanced specification can and are being built in Cape Town’s backyard,” said Stephen Brink, GM, BB Cranes.

“We have received skills transferred from Condra for this level of manufacture, a big win for us. And our customer wins because the cost of importing these cranes, or having them transported all the way from Johannesburg, has been eliminated.”

As well as the two Class 4 machines, BB Cranes will manufacture four portal cranes and four overhead cranes for two separate shipbuilding companies in Cape Town itself.

The four portal cranes are for Two Oceans Marine, a Cape Town shipbuilder niched in the luxury catamaran sector. The overhead travelling cranes will be for an existing customer.

BB Cranes’ reputation in portal crane manufacture is growing. Earlier this year, the company delivered portal cranes to separate end-users for refrigeration systems manufacture and container handling.

For Two Oceans Marine, the portals will be medium-duty Class 2 machines, marrying new end-carriages and customised legs to refurbished box girders and 5-ton hoists originally manufactured by Condra and repurchased from a Pretoria customer some time ago to make way for factory upgrade.

An interesting aspect of this order is that the portal cranes have been designed to fit an existing factory without compromising the specified lifting height of 6,5 metres. Low-profile compact hoists from Condra’s SH-series will be used to achieve this. They will feature gear reduction ratios suitably modified to allow the fiberglass catamarans to be moved efficiently but carefully, avoiding damage to their very high-quality finish.

Delivery to Two Oceans Marine is scheduled for early September.

BB Cranes’ second shipbuilding order is expected to be confirmed soon by an existing customer. It will be for four additional double-girder overhead travelling cranes to manage the lifting requirements of a factory expansion. The company already makes extensive use of Condra cranes to build its high-end yachts. The additional four machines will be standard units with spans of 27 metres and dual hoists achieving a lifting height of 6,5 metres.

Sign-off of the technical drawings for the four cranes is imminent.

Commenting on the three orders, Brink expressed optimism about the future: “Cape Town is busy. We are expecting orders from wastewater treatment works in George and further orders from pump stations and waterworks closer to home. BB Cranes enjoys a competitive advantage in this market because of the shot-blast zinc metal spray paint specification, supplied in South Africa by only one company, also based in Cape Town,” he said.

“To help our customers meet their environmental commitments, we are intensifying the green side of our production inputs and refining our output waste recycling streams. We are at the same time increasing productive capacity. I am optimistic.”