A Glimpse into the Engine House


Take a closer look at the construction of a tandem container gantry crane: Who steers it? What can it lift? And how do its jibs move?

With its 74-metre-long jibs, HHLA’s tandem container gantry cranes can handle the world’s largest ships and lift a payload of almost 100 tonnes. This task is carried out with a great deal of finesse by a container gantry crane operator, who looks into the ship’s interior from a glass-floored cabin. They use a lift (shown in the diagram in the interior of the carrier, next to the circle with the lift symbol) to reach their place of work, the driver’s cabin 50 metres up. The outline of the cabin can be seen under the cable pulls at the front. Underneath hang the two spreaders, shown much larger here, for picking up the container. More about this in points 1 to 3.



1) Spreader / Tandem Mode

In order to operate in tandem mode, the two spreaders, each weighing 13.5 tonnes, have to be firmly linked together. This is why two cylinders with ball heads extend from the water-side spreader. The ball heads click into place in the two fasteners that are mounted on the land-side spreader. The spreaders are now connected and the cylinders are used to bring them to the appropriate distance from each other. The gantry operator initiates this procedure with the touch of a button in his cabin.


2) Moving on rails

The container gantry crane moves on rails along the quay wall, aided by a land-side and water-side chassis. Each chassis has 20 wheels, 12 of which have their own drive system. One electric motor, which is connected to the gear mechanism by a drive shaft, turns the wheel.


3) Four electric motors

The engine house high up on the container gantry crane (with the HHLA logo) is bigger than a detached house and accommodates four engines: two of them raise and lower the spreaders, one of them enables the trolley to move forwards and back and the boom hoist (picture, left) moves the jib’s cables, which are around 800 metres long. The cable drums are turned by a 465-kilowatt electric motor, thereby pulling the jib up or lowering it back down.