Final Group of ASCs Arrive at NIT; Terminal Expansion Project Nearing Completion
May 18, 2020
86 Automated Stacking Cranes Have Been Delivered Over 27 Months
NORFOLK, VA – The final group of automated stacking cranes arrived Thursday evening at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) successfully ending just over two years of constant deliveries of the machines that are the centerpieces of the expansion at The Port of Virginia’s® two primary container terminals.
“We continue to mark milestones in the expansion of The Port of Virginia and this one signals that we are very close to completion of the work we started three years ago,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We have modernized our cargo handling capabilities at NIT and Virginia International Gateway (VIG), and significantly increased our operational efficiency and these cranes are a big part of the reason.”
In November 2016, the port and Finland-based Konecranes approved a $217 million contract for that company to build and deliver 86 specialized cranes that are at the center of the port’s container operations at NIT and across the river at Virginia International Gateway (VIG). The contract is the largest one-time order for automated stacking cranes in industry history and called for 26 cranes to be delivered to VIG and 60 to NIT.
In January 2018, the heavy-load vessel Happy Buccaneer left Poland – where the steel structures were manufactured – bound for Virginia laden with the first six cranes and in doing so signaled the start of a two-year delivery cycle. The vessel arrived at VIG in early February and the roughly three-day offloading process began; in late April that group of new cranes went into service at VIG. The process was repeated 14 times over the next two years: four deliveries were made at VIG and 10 at NIT, including today’s.
“The ability to receive the cranes at the terminals, do the final assembly and installation and then put them to work as soon as they were ready has been integral to the success of our overall expansion projects,” Reinhart said. “It allowed us to begin to move our customers’ cargo safer, swifter and more sustainably while demonstrating to the industry that we were bringing on the new capacity as soon as it was available. It is important to recognize Kone for working with us in developing the delivery schedule, and its dedication to ensuring that these cranes arrived on time and on budget.”
The port’s terminal capacity expansion project will be complete this fall, following the final phase of construction at NIT South and the arrival at NIT of two new ship-to-shore cranes. With all of the cranes in place and operational, the port will have the capacity to process an additional 1 million containers – or 46 percent — annually: 600,000 additional units at VIG and 400,000 additional units at NIT. The combined cost of the projects is nearly $800 million.
While Konecranes provided the cranes, it partnered with Roanoke, Virginia-based TMEIC, which provided the automation technology that drives the units. Konecranes and TMEIC have had a long partnership that dates back to the construction of VIG and implementation of automated stacking cranes there.
“The maritime industry is facing unprecedented challenges, but there will be a recovery,” Reinhart said. “The Port of Virginia has the assets, equipment and capacity to be competitive and efficient while working with its customers and cargo owners to meet their needs.”
The offloading process began Friday and continued through the weekend.