Containerization, today’s method of intermodal container shipping, is the backbone of international freight transport. Containers organize and protect the goods being shipped. They optimize use of space on the vessels. And as such, there are anywhere from 17-55 million of them around the world today—estimates vary widely, and nobody is really sure.
At a possible value of several thousand Euros each, containers hold real value independent of their cargo. They’re also subject to repeated physical abuse, whether that’s in handling, rough crossings or from the elements.
Empty of cargo, they still typically weigh 2.2 – 4.2 metric tonnes. And at various points before or after loading and unloading, inspectors and maintenance personnel will work closely on, with, and at times, under them.
The perils of inspection
Container inspection in turn, has become a critical element of the containerization process. A container’s value is directly tied to its availability—and a damaged or unfit container won’t be useable until it is repaired, if it can be.
Inspection, by definition, implies the container isn’t earning. And the longer inspection, maintenance or repairs take, the more uptime and revenue are impacted. Yet precautions must be taken. As noted, these are heavy, bulky units: they must be secured in a safe manner before an inspection can take place, often on stands in fixed areas of the maintenance and repair facility.
But getting containers back and forth to the stands is time and fuel-consuming. That’s where the new container checking safety system from Konecranes comes in.
The back-up every container lift truck deserves
Konecranes has been dedicated to improving safety of lift trucks since our very first modern model was launched in 1995. Today, that commitment is reflected in a number of industry-leading innovations, including the container checking safety system.
“It’s something our customers asked for,” says Ola Olsson, Global Product Support Manager at Konecranes. “It’s a bit of a specialty application that is mainly useful for container floor or bottom side rail and crossmembers inspection, for that extra peace of mind.”
The Konecranes container checking safety system is essentially a mechanical back-up device mounted on the mast. When the operator activates the lock, the lift truck automatically shifts into neutral and all hydraulic functions on the machine are temporarily disabled. An indicator light on the fender flashes until the driver deactivates the system.
”Most of the machines used in container inspection are not required to have load-holding valves,” says Ola. “So if a valve bursts, the container will fall. This device helps prevent that risk.”
More upside to protecting under
One of the great advantages the container checking safety system creates is the ability to do inspections and even maintenance or repairs anywhere in the yard—no need to transport them to stands. For the specialized containers such as refrigerated that often need more cleaning and maintenance between assignments, the higher earning potential from quicker turnarounds could really add up.
“The system saves a lot of time and fuel,” says Nicoleta Cretu, Parts Products Manager at Konecranes. “Preventive work on the containers increases the usage of the existing container fleet and reduces downtime for repair substantially. It essentially turns your lift truck into a mobile container service and inspection station.”
With yard space at a premium, avoiding the cost of unnecessary fixed inspection stations is another reason why the Konecranes container checking safety system is a good investment.
Improved safety, available everywhere
Container inspection includes the container floor, bottom side rail and crossmembers—the least likely areas to present problems, but also the most dangerous and costly if there is damage. That means getting under a dead weight of several tonnes for a potentially long period.
Simply put, without the Konecranes container checking safety system, container inspections, repair or maintenance should not be performed on a lift truck.
The system is available as an option on commission of a new Konecranes lift truck. It’s also available for retrofit to your Konecranes lift trucks already in operation—giving you the security and freedom to use it safely as a mobile inspection station anywhere on site.