Ace World Companies has supplied gantry cranes to a shipyard building ferries fit for Alaskan waters.

With many of its communities only accessible by air or sea, travelling in Alaska presents some unique challenges. The Alaska Marine Highway System plays a vital role in the State’s transport network, stretching 3,500 miles from Bellingham in Washington State, through the inside passage to Ketchikan and Juneau to Whittier, near Anchorage and out to the Aleutian Islands and Dutch Harbour. The ferries that make this journey have to be extremely robust and they are built tough at the Alaska Ship and Drydock, now a Vigor Industrial Company.

Two new ferries are currently under construction at the shipyard and two cranes from Ace World Companies are playing their part in this.

Delivered around two years ago, the cranes are identical full gantry cranes with 75/75/25t capacities, spanning over 100ft and lifting approximately 100ft. They feature variable frequency drive controls with programmable logic controller, true vertical lift and are classified by the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMMA) as Class D duty cycle (heavy service). “Our speciality is high capacity, high duty cycle and custom cranes and that is all we do,” says Tad Dunville, director of corporate development at Ace World Companies and CMMA board member.

“These cranes were a bit of each, so the idea that we fitted the job description perfectly sat well with the buyer. They knew we weren’t going to be distracted by a bunch of smaller crane projects.”

He adds that, given its public sector work, another attraction for the shipbuilder was that the vast majority of Ace World Companies’ cranes are made in the US. “A high percentage of the crane parts were made, not just assembled, in-house,” says Dunville. “This allows us to control the supply chain and provide spares quickly, with items such as gearboxes and sheaves designed specifically for cranes.”

In the case of the cranes destined for the Alaskan shipyard, they were designed at the company’s technical centre in Fort Worth, Texas, the machine parts were made in the adjacent machine shops and the cranes were assembled and tested in its erection hall near Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Since we specialise in custom work we had the flexibility to do things like change the design in mid-stream, ship via barge and install in a location off the North American road grid,” says Dunville.

“The design and manufacture of customised cranes is always a very collaborative process. It’s a bit like building a skyscraper—neither the customer nor the builder tells the other exactly what to do. We have a consultative process where we work with the customer and architect like partners.

“The customer is putting an immense amount of money into custom cranes, so it would be a bit disingenuous if we opened a three-ring binder and picked out a hoist and a bridge girder. We spend a lot of time analysing the work cycle, loads, operators, geography and so on to make sure the owner realises a great return on their investment.” Ace World Companies isn’t involved in a maintenance programme for these particular two cranes but provides this service on a case-by-case basis.

“We can offer something as basic as a spares list and ensuring their stock is ample and in most states, we can offer support through a local authorised Ace World Repair centre,” says Dunville. “Or we can station a man at the customer’s facility.” All Ace World Companies’ shipyard customers are looking towards improvements in equipment and technology, he adds.

“Whether they do naval, civilian, government or private work, they are all trying to get innovative,” he says. “And as a certain group of people agitate to remove the Jones Act [the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a federal law that regulates maritime commerce in the US], they are all being careful and trying to expand their portfolios.

“As of right now there is no silver bullet but incremental improvements can still make millions of dollars in savings each year. For example, we work with firms that update the operational software every year with regard to anti-sway and no-go zones. By improving both the software and the hardware used to implement the software they can improve throughput as well as keep their people and product safer. Safety and productivity initiatives have a clear impact on our customers’ bottom line.”


MHE-Demag has supplied cranes to various industries across Southeast Asia since 1972. The company talked to Hoist magazine about its work with the shipyard sector.

MHE-Demag’s portfolio includes all types of cranes from standard overhead cranes to specially designed gantry cranes. Its cranes are commonly used for lifting steel plates, ship manufacturing, repair work and so on.

One of the company’s many loyal customers is Keppel. In Singapore it has supplied a 30t double girder engineered crane and four double girder standard cranes ranging from 10–20t to Keppel Shipyard Ltd. All the cranes, which have a span of 28.6m, are installed in the shipyard’s fabrication workshop.

In addition to Singapore, MHE-Demag supplied 26 cranes to Keppel Philippines Marine in Bauan in the Phillipines province of Batangas; including seven 25t double girder overhead cranes with capacity and span range from 10–25t and 25m, and four single girder overhead cranes with capacity and span ranges from 3.2–5t and from 12.5–25m.

“We have also manufactured and installed two double girder semi gantry cranes with a capacity of 15t and a span of 11.m, two smaller semi gantry cranes to supplement the production floor and 11 double girder full gantry cranes with capacity and span ranging from 12.5–40t and from 20–42m,” says Tilkorn.

“The cranes were designed and fabricated in our plant in Manila, Philippines, which took slightly more than four months, before they were delivered to the site. Keppel Philippines Marine has since appointed us for the maintenance of the cranes.”

Tsuneishi Heavy Industries Inc (THICI) is a shipbuilding company in the Philippines that builds new bulk carriers, tankers, Ro- Ro carriers, container ships and car carriers. Its shipyard, which is in the Cebu Industrial Park—Special Export Zone in Buanoy Balamban, is able to handle ships of up to 180,000 deadweight tons.

“THICI was looking for a supplier who is not only capable of delivering highly reliable material handling equipment, but who would offer supportive and robust after-sales services in the Philippines,” says Marc von Grabowski, president of MHEDemag Philippines.

“Any downtime would mean that ships would have to be docked longer than planned thereby disrupting the shipping schedule and causing unnecessary costs,” he adds. “THICI therefore appointed us to build its special ship unloader crane.” The 30t and 60t Demag MPW winches are completed with multiple magnet lifting steel plates added as load handling attachments. This special unloader crane was configured and designed to handle various sizes of steel plates up to a maximum of 18m in length.

In Taiwan, MHE-Demag’s cranes were supplied to boat builder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co. Four underhung cranes with capacities of 10t and 36m spans were installed on a 56m runway.

The cranes were custom designed and manufactured and prior to MHE-Demag’s appointment, Lung Teh specified that the cranes must be durable and have low downtime for daily use handling heavy materials, such as steel plates.

Meanwhile, over a duration of two years, MHE-Demag has supplied 15 overhead cranes with capacity and span range from 10–160t and from 18–80m to Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering. The primary use of these cranes is for general maintenance and repair of ships.

“MHE-Demag has more than 15 service branches across Malaysia,” says Tilkorn. “Our strong service network and good reputation are the two main reasons for winning the projects. In addition to the overhead cranes, we have also delivered a 3.2t slewing jib with 6.5m outreach and a 24.4m span portal crane with an 80t capacity. We continue to serve Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering by providing preventive maintenance service and spare parts.”

Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) is another big name in Malaysia’s shipbuilding industry—it is the Royal Malaysia Navy’s main contractor. Here, MHE-Demag has supplied two 20t overhead cranes with 40m spans for the shipyard’s main indoor assembly plant. The overhead cranes are installed at 32m above ground level.

In the assembly plant, the hull components are welded together and the final products are prefabricated module blocks. Once completed, the blocks are then transported to the outdoor fabrication yard for assembly. Here, two 20t gantry cranes with 45m spans are used to lift the prefabricated module blocks to be welded together with the rest of the blocks.


A new Goliath gantry crane from Konecranes is an integral part of infrastructure investment at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.

The Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland boasts a record-breaking order book up to 2024 and to meet this on-going demand is ramping up its investments from a previously announced €75m to €185m. Investments include a new plate cutting line, a new profile cutting line and a new panel line to the steel fabrication halls of the shipyard, all of which will be ready by the end of 2018/beginning of 2019.

As part of its overall investment in infrastructure, the Meyer Turku shipyard, which specialises in cruise ships, car/ passenger ferries and “technically demanding special vessels”, is also taking delivery of a Goliath gantry crane from Konecranes. This gigantic crane will be used to assemble ship hull elements outdoors on the dock, subsequent to their construction within the hull manufacturing halls.

Konecranes is a world-leading supplier of shipyard cranes and has been serving this sector since the 1930s. It has delivered more than 60 Goliaths and hundreds of level luffing single-boom and doubleboom outfitting cranes to shipyards around the world and its association with the Meyer Turku shipyard stretches back at least to 1975. The yard’s existing Goliath crane was delivered by Konecranes (then part of KONE) in 1976.

Through the years, Konecranes has also supplied eight level luffing single-boom and double-boom outfitting cranes to Meyer Turku, the first in 1976 and the last in 1986.

It wasn’t force of habit that caused Meyer Turku to specify a Konecranes’ Goliath, however.

“Naturally the long relationship between the shipyard and Konecranes was an important factor but, of course, this in itself isn’t enough,” says Svend Videbaek, product marketing specialist at Konecranes Port Solutions.

“The technology has to be right and the contract terms have to be acceptable,” he continues. “Meyer Turku went through a rigorous evaluation process before coming to its decision, involving technology analysis, delivery capability, track record, contract terms and service support.”

Konecranes supplies its Goliath crane in three options: a complete package, including turnkey delivery and a service contract; turnkey, which covers full design and delivery responsibility; and technology, which covers design, components, supervision and commissioning.

In the latter case, the customer can carry out the manufacture of the crane’s steel structure—and this is the option selected by Meyer Turku.

“Meyer Turku has manufactured the crane’s main girder themselves in their steel manufacturing halls according to our design,” says Videbaek. “Konecranes is delivering all the other necessary parts. The trolley was manufactured at our Hanko factory in Finland and the key crane components were manufactured at our Hyvinkää factories, also in Finland.”

The new 1,200t Goliath spans 154m and is a rail-mounted outdoor electric, double trolley and travelling gantry crane. It is equipped with electric motors, motor controls, hoisting and traveling machinery, lower sheave block assembly, hoisting ropes and hooks, electrical protective devices, operating brakes, operator’s cab, machinery and electrical enclosures, and all appurtenant items required for a complete operating installation.

“This Goliath crane delivery is taking place in carefully planned phases,” says Videbaek. “The current phase is the bogie and festoon (power cabling and so on) installation phase.”

He added that crane commissioning is scheduled for March 2018 and a handover ceremony is planned for April.

The existing Konecranes Goliath has been used in the hull assembly of every large ship built at Meyer Turku since its installation and is seen as one of the most central and important pieces of equipment in the shipyard. And while the nature of the work it carries out has not changed that much since 1976, what has changed is the degree of software and automation “intelligence” that can be built into a crane.

“This crane will be equipped with an accurate load weighing system, and a crane control system that will provide data on the lifted blocks,” says Videbaek. “It will also be ready for wireless data flow between itself and the old, 600t Goliath crane. Tandem operation will be possible once the old crane is fitted with the same wireless data flow system. It will also have extended monitoring systems—in each rail direction and on the main hooks.”

He added that the ergonomics of the cabin have been designed with Meyer Turku so that the best practices learned from the many years of using the old crane will be preserved.

The crane will also have LED lights, extensive floodlights, an auxiliary generator set and advanced fire alarm and fire extinguishing systems.

Konecranes is also undertaking the refurbishment of the old Goliath and this includes changing the gantry bogies and trolley rope pulleys.

“In addition to this, we have also delivered three new plate and profile handling electric overhead cranes,” says Videbaek. “They will be used in the shipyard’s new plate and profile handling hall. The cranes are now lifted up to their rails and waiting for the automation start-up.”

The on-going investment at Meyer Turku is a bright spot in an otherwise depressed shipyard crane market, according to Videbaek.

“Except for a few bright spots in Europe, the global shipyard crane market is depressed— and has been for some years,” he says. “2016 was the worst year in the last 20 in terms of global order intake for shipbuilding and, in particular, the demand for container ships, tankers and bulkers has plunged due to existing oversupply of vessels at sea. It will take time for the vessel capacity oversupply to be used by global economic development.

“However, demand for passenger ships, cruise ships in particular [such as those built at Meyer Turku], has almost doubled year-on-year.

“The European order book was the only one that grew in 2016, with 155 vessels contracted, accounting for US$18bn, 52% of global new orders.”


An EMH double girder bridge crane was instrumental in the construction of an unmanned submarine.

A yellow submarine has been making headlines after taking to the water off the coast of southern California in recent months. Its arrival there is not part of a Beatles retrospective, however, but is the deep water testing of a new unmanned undersea vessel (UUV) designed and built by Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security Division at its Huntingdon Beach facility.

The construction of the UUV, dubbed Echo Voyager, was a top-secret project but one company that did have access to the site, albeit working to a strict security regime, was Ohio-based EMH Inc.

The company supplied and installed a double girder bridge crane and also retrofitted an existing crane that dated back to when the facility was built several decades ago. Retrofitting included installing new drive assemblies and a new hoist. Both cranes have a lift capacity of 40t and span about 30m rail-to-rail.

The two cranes were used for the construction of the 50t UUV and also to lift the finished sub in and out of a huge 10m-deep test pool adjacent to the assembly area.

Boeing’s specification to EMH back in 2015/2016 was for “infinitely variable speed control” and absolute synchronisation of all the movements of the two cranes, to guarantee safe and secure handling.

“The synchronisation aspect was very important to Boeing,” says David Comiono, EMH vice-president. “They had one radio control and if they pushed the up button or pushed the bridges, both cranes would work exactly the same. It is a pretty sophisticated control system.”

Safety was also paramount and to this end, EMH incorporated its new solenoidoperated SureStop secondary drum brake on both of the hoists. The SureStop drum brake is an emergency device that prevents uncontrolled lowering of the load in the event of a failure. It is not intended as a service brake but offers users an additional failsafe device should there be a failure with the motor service brake, the drive transmission components, or a drum brake. The new crane was manufactured at EMH’s Cleveland site and then transported by road to southern California.

“Obviously it was very long and there were special escorts to take the girders over the mountains, so certainly from that standpoint it was expensive,” says Comiono. “But the freight [cost] wasn’t really a primary consideration for Boeing. The primary consideration was the precision handling— and that is what this project was all about.”