Seatrade Maritime is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Podcast: Transhipment and crane technology with Tim Ladendorf, Liebherr

This In Focus episode of the Seatrade Maritime Podcasts looks into current trends in the transhipment market and where the market may be heading in the future.

Equipment manufacturers need to anticipate their customers' demands and so Tim Ladendorf, Global Application Manager, Ship Cranes, Port and Transshipment Solutions, Liebherr has plenty of insights into transhipment and how its requirements shape Liebherr's technology.

Gary and Tim cover recent developments across the transhipment of coal, grains and other goods, the current state of the market and the factors affecting the future direction of transhipment equipment.

Tim also outlines the development process of Liebherr's new CBG 500 E model and the features and capabilities incorporated to serve the growing transhipment market.

Listen to the full conversation with Tim Ladendorf in the player above or on the app of your choice

Spotify-Icon.png Apple-Icon.png Google-Icon.png

Episode transcription

Gary Howard  00:09

Welcome to the Seatrade Maritime Podcast. You're listening to Gary Howard, Europe Editor at Seatrade Maritime News. And today I'm speaking with Tim Ladendorf of Liebherr Cranes about transshipment and transshipment cranes. We start by looking at what transshipment is, recent developments in the transshipment market and how this has impacted the development of Liebherr's cranes. Tim then talks about Liebherr's CBG 500 E, a crane developed to meet the evolving needs of the transshipment market. I start as ever by asking Tim to introduce himself.

Tim Ladendorf  00:43

Yeah, first of all, thank you very much. My name is Tim Ladendorf. I'm 33 years old and originally from Rostock. I studied engineering and management at the University of Bremen, and I also had the pleasure of the chance to study abroad in Valencia, Spain, which was also a pretty amazing experience. 

Since the beginning of 2017, I'm now with Liebherr. I started my career as a sales assistant and then became a sales manager. And now, since the beginning of 2022, I have been the global Application Manager for ship cranes, port and transshipment solutions, being responsible for project management and sales worldwide for this product group. 

Why I've chosen Liebherr? You know, Liebherr is a huge organisation with a lot of products from home appliances to mining and aerospace. But we are here today to talk about maritime cranes. And yeah, Liebherr is an international operating company with a lot of possibilities and chances for your professional development. So that was one of the main reasons why I've chosen or wanted to join Liebherr. Also, the core values of the company itself are very, let's say, well known and good. So, the core values of Liebherr were something which attracted my interest. 

You know, Liebherr has always been seen as a very innovative partner. They are a very independent entity. And the question, well, you may have why I've chosen then the segment of the division of maritime cranes? You know, growing up in Rostock, there's always a connection to the maritime environment or industry. So directly from the beginning, you have been in contact with that. So that was one reason. And there's also a funny fact, my father worked as a mechanical engineer, let's say 30 years ago in the port of Rostock. So we are constantly in contact because he's always interested in what is going on at the factory. There are some reasons why I've chosen maritime cranes.

Gary Howard  02:42

That's great. It makes a lot of sense. And what you said about the core values of a company I think, is becoming much more important as time goes on. Well, we'll focus on the transshipment sector, which is what we're here to talk about. Why don't you start to talk about what is transshipment? And what is Liebherr's experience in that market?

Tim Ladendorf  02:58

So generally speaking, transshipment must be understood as the movement of driving cargo from one vessel to another vessel or barge. And those operations can take place in sheltered water or open water conditions. Why is it happening because it sounds like you're double-treating the material from port to barge and from a barge to another vessel? You have to keep in mind that there's a variety of regions where port infrastructure is not sufficiently developed, which means that seaports do not exist. 

Let's say deep seaports do not exist in the area where, for example, specific materials are getting mined or produced. And therefore, these bigger ocean-going vessels cannot enter those ports due to draft restrictions, of course. So where the transshipment happening? In areas where large raw material deposits are based, for example in Africa and also Southeast Asia. There are also other transshipment hotspots, for example where inland waterways are used, like the Mississippi River or even within Europe. 

How does the supply chain work? As mentioned, the material gets loaded from a minor port facility to smaller vessels or barges. And then those vessels or barges are getting placed to a place where deeper water is, so there's a bigger vessel than waiting and this is the location where the transshipment operation will take place. So, to transfer the dry bulk material from those smaller barges or ocean-going vessels cranes are proven as reliable and flexible solutions to many customers worldwide.

Gary Howard  04:27

Are there different types of transshipment?

Tim Ladendorf  04:30

We distinguish between direct and indirect transshipment. The direct transshipment is mainly when the materials are directly transferred from one vessel to a barge or another vessel directly only with having a crane. Which means there's no use of additional equipment such as hopper conveyor belts or ship loaders. 

Whereas the indirect transshipment is characterised by a coordinated interaction between cranes, hoppers, conveyor belts and continuous loaders. It's a very interactive system. In that case, the cranes feed hoppers via the conveyor belt and the loader will then put the material into the ocean-going vessel, for example. Those applications are to maximise the overall turnover as less crane movements are needed, of course. But there're also disadvantages. Because just imagine that those systems are complex, they are only made or designed for one specific material because you have to adapt everything to the material as the density and material characteristics can vary a lot. So that is the biggest disadvantage. Because if you're just thinking about the direct shipment, and you're just using the crane, you can easily change from one material to another by just a simple change of grab.

Gary Howard  05:45

What is Liebherr's experience in the market?

Tim Ladendorf  05:47

Liebherr entered the market, let's say the transshipment market, in the 90s with the first delivery of the CBG with a 47% market share. Now we have delivered more than 300 cranes of this type and 250 of those 300 units are used as a transshipment crane. 

Since then, of course, we have built up long-term relationships with our customers worldwide. And together with our clients, we could learn and improve our machines in a constant way to be where we are at the moment. Just a nice fact and figure, I was just recently visiting a customer in Argentina, where we have a CBG 300 in operation. It has been in operation since 2004 now counting 64,000 operating hours and, the next number is even more impressive, this machine handled more than 30 million tons of cargo already.

Gary Howard  06:35

That's incredible. Efficiency must be really important in all of those operations and I'm sure we'll get onto that later. But just for now, bringing that story right up to date, what sort of developments have you seen in the transshipment market, say over the last five years or so?

Tim Ladendorf  06:49

We of course have to talk about the Covid period, because we all had this experience. Especially in Asia, which is one of our core markets, there was long-term, restricted access, which made travelling difficult. We had no direct customer contact because it was just not possible. Even though with our worldwide sales network, it was not that easy to access to clients. There was one big thing we had to deal with. 

On the other hand, of course, in the last five years, coal handling has always played an important role, especially in Southeast Asia, as mentioned. So, within the last five years, other regions have also become aware of it and they were building up power plants for coal. And they were in the coal business, moving a little bit away from Southeast Asia, there were other regions where coal handling was a big topic. 

There are other regions we have seen in the last five years, for example, in Europe, where a lot of cranes operate in transshipment operations but they have a former design philosophy. They are, I would not say old, but somehow, yes. It seems that now is the time to make crane replacements and we're also raising a lot of new projects with new customers. So, that is on the other hand what we see. 

And then, of course, there's also a high number of projects for specific materials. For example, bulk-side handling has become a big issue in the transshipment sector. 

And another hotspot is, or was, the Black Sea, which is of course now affected by the Russian Ukrainian war, where we have sold or have more than 35 machines, at least we had before the war begin. So, since the war started, as mentioned, nearly all activities and projects in this specific region have stopped. That is what we have been noticing in the last five years. 

Talking about machines themselves, we see that there was a small trend that more customers were looking into single barge or single crane barge solutions and/or only crane solutions on transshipment vessels. So the direct transshipment as explained before. The reason is the increased handling rate and the demand on sticky material as bauxite is for example, which is not easy to handle on additional equipment because it will get stuck on the conveyor belts for example. So to be as productive as possible, or as the combination of equipment, which I mentioned in the indirect transshipment, customers require higher safety working loads, higher outreaches and of course higher speeds. But it depends a little bit on the market. So in the end, the target is always higher turnover figures for the machine and for the client of course. 

Another thing we have noticed in the last years is the analysis of operations in areas even exceeding the open water parameters we are working with right now. Talking more about offshore conditions, let's say.

Gary Howard  09:47

So I'll ask about a market forecast later in the podcast so you can be preparing head for that one. But as the market has changed in recent years, have customer requirements also changed when it comes to cranes?

Tim Ladendorf  09:58

As always and in nearly every business you know time is money, and this is also counting for transshipment operations. The customer requirements are nowadays to maximise turnover of the machines and the operation to be done as quick as possible to avoid penalties or merge costs. But on the other hand, they are a lot more looking into low maintenance costs and of course, at how to lower the downtime of the machine. They are investing more now in their staff to get them educated. So, we offer more training, as they are more looking into preventive maintenance, automation. All those requirements are somehow new, they always have been in their mind, but it's coming now more concrete, let's say. They are really looking into it.

Also, something that is new, customers really like to get involved in development processes for a machine for example. Therefore, we have opened discussions about the machine itself and not only referring to the safety working load or speeds it was to say, the general design of the machine. 

Also safety features are becoming more important. Especially while having several cranes working close to each other on one vessel functions like anti-collision, warning systems or similar systems are let's say, highest priority now. As you can imagine during the last years or since transshipment started there were some accidents of course. 

And another important point is the monitoring of crane performance. The customers are now more looking into their machines trying to compare their crane operators to see where they can, for example, also maximise the turnover from their side. 

Another important thing, as time is changing, they ask for different drive systems. For example, instead of having electro-hydraulic cranes, they sometimes ask for all-electric cranes as they are facing environmental conditions and new regulations. So the usage of alternative power sources to supply electricity to the crane is another important fact for the end clients. A variety of those points mentioned are resulting in the need for a larger and more powerful crane by using less energy.

Gary Howard  12:03

And you mentioned the other planning process for replacing cranes earlier, what are the maintenance demands like for a transshipment crane? They must operate in pretty harsh environments.

Tim Ladendorf  12:12

Yes, that's true. So it, on the one hand, depends on the area of the operation, because I mentioned they can work in sheltered water or calm water, harbour conditions or open water conditions. So, as we are offering the same machines, they can work in both environments. 

We are already determining the different crane configurations, for example we lower the SWL, the Safety Working Load, in open sea operation to prevent the machine from damage. Having now the experience gained over the years, the maintenance instructions given by Liebherr are quite useful and good guidance for our customers to have the machine in the best conditions always. 

Apart from the location of the operation, tear and wear are also material dependent. For example, thinking of bauxite or fertilizer, which are very aggressive materials, you can imagine that the tear and wear are much higher than, for example, easy penetrating material like coal or grain. So, we always recommend having regular maintenance or checks by our experienced Liebherr service engineers whenever possible and cranes are accessible. Especially thinking of this preventive maintenance, what I've mentioned before, and the related component replacements, the customers really need to use a free period for major maintenance work. And the customers, of course, are all over the world. 

The benefit is now that from our constantly ongoing internal analysis and experience of our cranes and the components' behaviour, we can really guide them and tell them for example, that it is time to change certain components within the crane because it can fail in the next month and it will cause, for example, damage to the operation itself.

Gary Howard  13:56

And is there a training component to making the most of the cranes?

Tim Ladendorf  13:59

We also recommend and offer additional detailed product-specific training to our customers. It can be maintenance or operator training. For example, in our maritime training centre here in Rostock, a beautiful place to get to know the machines, to see also a factory, of course, to really get in touch with the new machines getting out of the factory. 

Also a very important point, and I think, a big benefit of going with Liebherr, is that we have a worldwide service network. We have subsidiaries all over the world, we have several warehouses for spare parts. And, there's also a thing, a few customers are really doing and the last years, they were building up their own spare parts warehouses. If they have, for example, a certain fleet of crane, which is in a specific area, they base the critical components in the warehouse and the even more critical spare parts they put directly on the vessel in order to get the failures directly away when it's arising during the operation.
Gary Howard  14:59

You mentioned new equipment at the factory there. And the real reason for our deep dive into transshipment today is the new CBG 500 E transshipment crane. Can you tell me what it is and how it came about?

Tim Ladendorf  15:11

Yes, of course. So, our current portfolio or the former portfolio consisted of a CBG 300 with a lifting capacity of up to 30 t grab operation and limited by 30-meter outreach. The bigger model, the CBG 360, with its 45 t grab operation and the maximum outreach of 36 meters, was, let's say, our limit. And we noticed that there's a gap in our floating crane portfolio, especially above the safety working load of 45 tons, as mentioned. Also in terms of outreach, not only talking about these numbers, but of course, also in terms of speed, which ends then in higher turnover for the client. 

We noticed that and that's why we got in contact with a number of design and naval architects and customers from different regions, especially with different operations. So everything, at the end, started somehow on a white paper resulting now in this new machine, which I can see from my desk while looking outside the window every day because the prototype is already there. 

So, just to mention some technical details for the CBG 500 E, which is now the new machine we are talking about. It's an all-electric crane. We have no hydraulics in the drive system. We have two boom configurations at the end available. It will be a 33-meter boom or a 50-meter boom. So, you see now, coming from 36, we are now talking about a 50-meter boom. It can get equipped with additional counterweights of 130 t to increase the vessel or barge stability for the operation. Another very important fact, the crane has a capacity of up to 90 t and grab operation and 105 t in hook operation which gives a certain benefit to clients.

Gary Howard  16:52

Is this a big change on the previous models in the CPG series?

Tim Ladendorf  16:57

What makes this machine special, talking about the CBG series, is that this new crane now has the latest boom design, which makes it particularly rigid and light, which further improves the turnover performance and reduces the energy requirements for such a big machine. Another highlight is the integrated LiCaTronic® system, which is an in-house design made by Liebherr. It's a system which is recovering the energy while you are lowering the load into supercapacitors. The stored energy then is used for peak shaving. Of course, we have the possibility to downsize the needed gensets, so less investment for our end-clients. And of course, another positive impact of downsizing the genset is for the environment. 

Also, we are very proud to say that this new machine also has the new software architecture with our in-house developed “Master V” crane control system, which is the basis now for the integration of future systems and automation systems.

Gary Howard  17:56

Your recovery system sounds like Formula One technology for a crane.

Tim Ladendorf  18:01


Gary Howard  18:02

Okay, so what's the current status of the CBG 500 E? You mentioned the prototype outside your window.

Tim Ladendorf  18:08

Exactly, you can see it already. Once you pass by a Rostoc, if you're in the area of Rostock, you can see it in the port. And the crane is now erected on our test bench. The first tests have already started. This machine has already been sold so we have already got the first client for this machine.

There's also a really nice story behind this project. The prototype was already in production when talking to this client at the end of 2021. So there were already some parts in our factory and the plan was made. But even then we still managed to implement certain specific customer requirements, which are important features for the machine in general, and for the market in general. So it was a really nice cooperation with our customer. 

As mentioned, now the first crane is on the testbed. We will start now or have started already the testing, and we will check all functions from the greasing system to the functioning of the LiCaTronic® system. And of course, the new software architecture because it's new, you have to test everything and this is what we do. 

Also, another important thing or another important test will be real-life testing. We will test the crane and grab operation, we will simulate an operation at our factory with coal as we have a coal plant next to our factory, so we can borrow some tons of material for our tests.

Gary Howard  19:38

You mentioned it's already sold, what's the next step for that unit?

Tim Ladendorf  19:42

Now after completion and adjustment, we will install the crane directly on a barge of the first customer. And it will take place here in Rostock. Our marketing team of course is very excited about doing videos and photos of this new machine. We are now getting everything ready for serious production, which will start in quarter three of this year (2023), and additional units are already planned within our production line. So we believe in serving several other clients as well with this new baby.

Gary Howard  20:11

It's great to hear about the development and cooperation and having it so close to home as well. But let's turn our attention to the future. The maritime industry faces a great number of changes in the coming decade. What are your thoughts on the future development of the transshipment market? And does Liebherr have any sort of projects or plans underway to help meet those future market demands?

Tim Ladendorf  20:31

I would like to start, let's say, with the maritime industry in general, because it's facing a lot of new requirements like the reduction of carbon dioxide emission, especially while being at ports or port areas. There's a huge number of projects, of course, also in the wind energy market, where offshore wind parks, let's say about to be placed, and they have an urgent need for the transportation of large and heavy components. 

Therefore, it's also nice to mention our newest development, which is the Orca project, maybe you have heard of it, where we've been able to sell our LS 800 E, those cranes also all-electric machines are combining the powerful machine when it comes to SWL because you know, each vessel is equipped with two cranes, and then they have a combined lifting capacity of 1600 tons by keeping power consumption and energy requirements on lowest level as it is an all-electric machine. 

There is indeed a stronger focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly solutions. For example, nice to know the LS 800 E is taking benefit of a few developed systems for the CBG 500 E. For example, the cooling system of switch cabinets within the machinery room. 

This leads us back to the transshipment projects. So, coal, bauxite and iron are very popular now, but what is with soy, sweet corn, nickel ore, or maybe sand for the construction industry in the upcoming years? We are focusing on many topics now like environmental rules and regulations in terms of dust prevention, emission reduction, etc. And increased safety during operation, automation of crane operation, and even thinking about remote control of the crane itself in the transshipment operation. The reduction of maintenance costs is always a big topic, and of course, preventive maintenance to foresee upcoming downtimes. We have this lead at smart app features so customers have access to relevant data of the machinery at any time. And of course, the electrification of further crane models is let's say on our list.

Gary Howard  22:31

Sounds like plenty of challenges to be getting on with.

Tim Ladendorf  22:33

Yes, that's true.

Gary Howard  22:35

Tim, thanks so much for your time today, appearing on the Seatrade Maritime Podcast.

Tim Ladendorf  22:39

Thank you very much.