Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Burning Issue - Zero hour contracts

Tim Aker, left, Polly Billington, centre and Jackie Doyle-Price MP

Jackie Doyle Price, Conservative MP
THE only people who have ever raised zero-hours contracts with me are people who fear they may lose their jobs because of Labour’s campaign against them.

Let’s be clear, for many people these contracts work. For working mums who want the flexibility of arranging their work around the school day and school holidays, they are a great way of ensuring they can access work. A total of 693,000 people rely on these contracts, and for most, it suits them.
And for businesses which have variable demands on thier work, it enables them to take contracts that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to deliver.
Where zero-hours contracts are abused by employers, we will take action, but Labour should not pretend that all the new jobs created are zero-hours. They are not. Far from it. We have more people in work than ever before and that is a real achievement.

Tim Aker, UKIP candidate
BRITISH workers have been badly let down by the Labour Party that no longer represents them.
Mass open-door immigration has led to a situation where bosses have an unlimited supply of unskilled foreign labour.
This has meant falling wages for British workers, less job security with an increase in zero-hours contracts, fewer hours and in many cases the minimum wage becoming the maximum wage.
This goes right to the top – 36 Labour MPs employed staff on zero-hours contracts in 2014.
Ukip wants strong border controls and to put the British people first so they can have secure, well-paid jobs before we open the door to the rest of the world.

Polly Billington, Labour candidate
LABOUR will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts. If you work regular hours, then you should have a regular contract.
Labour will change the law so this is the case. It’s basic job security people should have.
Zero hours might be OK for a college student doing the odd bar shift, but I’ve spoken to too many people who struggle to make ends meet on zero hours. Not only is it hard to plan the household budget week to week, but impossible to start saving for bigger things like a home.
There are now 1.4 million people on zeros-hours contracts in Britain. People can’t get enough hours to make ends meet.
Some people work in Tilbury docks and take home only £350 a month because they depend on agency work.
Families cannot live on zero-hours contracts. If I was Thurrock’sMP, I’d take on exploitative employers.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Kiel Canal Gate Severely Damaged in Ship Collision [Incident Video]

Damage to the floodgate, March 20, 2015.
Damage to the floodgate, March 20, 2015.
A major blow for shipping through Germany’s Kiel Canal today after a cargo ship crashed into a floodgate as it entered the lock chamber of the Canal at Brunsb├╝ttel, causing extensive damage that is likely to take weeks to repair.
The video below shows the moment of impact as the freighter crashed into the gate.
The ship is the Cypriot-flagged MV Saint George, a 131-meter general cargo ship. The vessel sustained damage to its bow. The bulbous bow of the vessel is believed to have pierced completely through the gate.
The accident is the third such incident in recent months at the Kiel Canal, according to local media reports. Last November, a UK-flagged cargo ship struck a lock gate at the north end of the Kiel Canal resulting the entire gate needing to be replaced.
The Kiel Canal, or Nord-Ostsee-Kanal as it is known is Germany, is a 61-mile long waterway stretching from the North Sea at Brunsbuttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau. It is described as “the world’s busiest artificial waterway”.

A New Twist on Automated Container Handling

With automated twistlock handling safety is improved as stevedores no longer need to work close to heavy equipment during critical phases of container lifts.

Automation is rapidly gaining ground in container terminals of all sizes. However, until now, one area of container handling has still required manual work, often in dangerous conditions. Stevedores are still removing twistlocks during the discharge process and fixing twistlocks during the load process. They work close to suspended loads and move in the same area as the horizontal transport (straddle carriers or trucks). The handling of centre twistlocks on twin and twin-tandem lifts is particularly dangerous and only possible if the containers are first placed on a rack.

At the same time as vessel sizes are growing, terminals are under increased pressure to increase productivity and provide shipping lines with the most cost-effective service possible. To tackle these challenges, the first fully automated twistlock handling system removes the need for manual handling of twistlocks during the load and discharge process. With an approximately container-sized footprint, the system can be put and moved around on the quay (Automatic Lashing Platform, ALP) or installed on an existing lashing platform on the STS crane leg (Automatic Lashing System, ALS).

With automated twistlock handling safety is improved as stevedores no longer need to work close to heavy equipment during critical phases of container lifts.

Safety and productivity are improved
Automated twistlock handling has numerous benefits. Safety is improved as stevedores no longer need to work close to heavy equipment during critical phases of container lifts. The system provides significant performance gains, especially for terminals using straddle carriers and double-trolley cranes. The time required for twistlock coning and deconing – occupying the spreader – is reduced from approximately 20 seconds to practically nothing. The crane and spreader can immediately return to the loading or unloading operation. This incremental productivity boost is particularly relevant when working on supersized vessels with thousands of containers.

The system also allows personnel resources to be used more efficiently, and occupational safety is improved. A single trained operator can support three to four ALP/ALS units in case of exception and error handling, compared to today when two persons per container are doing the work under suspended loads and in the same area as the horizontal transport.

Automated twistlock handling closes the gap between the quay and automated horizontal transport. The system integrates fully with Terminal Operating Systems to enable optimal planning for the ALP/ALS system. As an added bonus, when used on the quay, the self-contained ALP requires no external power, so no cable runs are required. The system generates its operating energy from the weight of the container being lowered onto the lashing platform.

The ALP/ALS system already supports almost 100 percent of the twistlocks used by the major shipping lines, so automated twistlock handling can be expected to find its place as a key component in automating the flow of containers from ship to shore and back during the coming years.   

More information on automated twistlock handling:


Sunday, 29 March 2015

Port Of Felixstowe Tugs / Svitzer / Greys / Howard Smith / Alexandra Towing

Some of these pics are my own, however credit must be given to Tugs of The World on Facebook for the rest of them.

Rick VinceTugs of the World Credit for pics below

IMO 9342334 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Time for IMO to tie down the rules on how to secure containers on ever-larger ships


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has acted on container weights, amending the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require verification, and it has progressed on packing by approving the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code).
Both are significant moves to improve safety and cargo integrity. Now, as larger container tonnage becomes commonplace, it is time to turn the attention on lashing and securing.
The advent of ground-breaking designs for larger containerships appears to offer greater opportunity for unit cost savings. Plans are afoot for ships even larger than the 19,000 teu giants recently entering service, with Lloyd’s Register and others talking of ships up to 24,000 teu. Inevitably, many ports and terminals are gearing up for this onslaught of mega containerships – and others will be exercised with the prospect of increased feedering activity utilising tonnage ‘cascaded’ from the east-west deepsea services and emerging ‘mega-hubs’.

A number of concerns have been raised over the last decade about loss of containers at sea. The response to this has been centred at the IMO, where reports have been made by various Maritime Administrations into related casualties. A key input into the debate was the presentation in 2010 of the conclusions of the MARIN (Maritime Research Institute Netherlands) ‘lashing@sea’ project. This was a cross-industry initiative, involving shipowners, lashing suppliers, classification societies and competent authorities, to investigate lashing loads and improve safety.
Developments, such as the SOLAS verification of gross mass for containers, which will become mandatory in July 2016, and the completion of the CTU Code, approved during 2014 by its three UN sponsors, will undoubtedly, so long as they adequately and consistently implemented, bring about some improvements in the rate of incidents. However, and ironically perhaps, to the extent that they are apparent, the benefits may accrue more to landside operations.
It is therefore instructive to return to the MARIN report.  The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has been tasked by IMO to address one of the other requirements, relating to the strength of items such as corner castings and lashing equipment amid concerns that the ‘racking and stacking’ capability of containers could lead to undue stresses.
As a result, the relevant ISO standards (ISO 3874, Series 1 Freight containers, lashing and securing, and ISO 1161, Series 1 Freight containers, Corner and intermediate fittings – Specifications) are undergoing thorough review. This is particularly pertinent as the height of container stacks on deck increases.
There are, however, other issues relating to ship planning, lashing, and dynamic shipboard information that need addressing.
One of the consequences of increased ship size is a larger number of containers turning round in the terminal. Degrees of automation are seen almost universally as the only way to improve productivity. Automation has proved to be successful at moving the boxes themselves around, but what about the lashing equipment? Unsurprisingly, the industry has been innovating since the inception of containers, moving on from manual twistlocks (although, of course, many are still in use) to Semi-automatic (SATL) and Fully automatic (FATL) versions. The main thrust of such technological development is to help improve speed of operation and remove elements of the dangerous interaction of people, machinery and unforgiving heavy steel containers.
However, there is some evidence that the FATL concept is not coping with the dynamic motion and vibration that can be experienced at sea, especially in heavy weather, and it remains to be seen what the industry (including ISO and IMO) will do about this.

Significantly, regarding the incidences of bodily injuries, what also remains to be addressed is whether SATLs or FATLs are handled on the quayside or the manual twistlocks on board the ship – all need attention by personnel working on deck.
Further, the lashing rods cannot be handled any other way and the need to stack higher means there is a demand to increase the size of the already very long and heavy rods – which have been instrumental in a number of serious accidents and injuries. Another option would be to raise the lashing platforms themselves, resulting in greater working height for the lashing gangs and probably creating access issues.
Other concerns that have arisen include the hazards presented where loose lashing gear is left strewn around – a particular factor in feeder ship operations, where fast turnarounds and insufficient time in or between ports preclude crew or shore-based teams clearing away.
Recent initiatives undertaken by ICHCA, including a major one-day seminar on the subject in Rotterdam in December, are aimed at bringing together all sides of the industry, including ship operators, terminal operators, classification societies, lashing and equipment manufacturers, lashing service providers, MARIN and other industry experts. It is hoped that such collaborations will result in pragmatic proposals on how the opposing pressures can be balanced, with a view to advising IMO on its next steps and how the maritime industry can continue to improve safety.
This is part of a series of monthly guest posts from TT Club’s risk management director Peregrine Storrs-Fox in which he discusses some of the emerging safety and compliance issues in today’s global supply chains


Friday, 27 March 2015

(Video) Peel Ports-Liverpool2 Masterplan

Peel Ports has released a video which outlines its overall presence in the UK, with a focus on its US$445m Liverpool2 container terminal project.

Food and drink logistics provider Culina Group has recently been announced as the tenant to occupy Peel Ports 28ha import centre, which aims to boost container exchanges between Liverpool2 via the Manchester Ship Canal.
Liverpool2 will be able to handle some of the world’s biggest ships once it is completed and will use Navis’ N4 terminal operating system and ABB control equipment to improve operations and achieve greater cost-efficiency.
Liverpool2 also has an Irish sea hub which connects Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester, thereby improving multi-modal connectivity.
See below for the video: (Source: Peel Ports (YouTube))

Crane of thought

John Bensalhia puts the cases forward for ship-to-shore crane replacement versus upgrade
Major crisis in the household, the television has broken! No picture, no sound... disaster has struck. You have two choices: take it to be mended and then upgraded at the local television repair station, or go and purchase the latest state-of-the-art flatscreen television set with many a special feature.
Which solution will be the most cost effective and efficient in the long-term? Port operators face a similar dilemma when contemplating the life-span of the ship to shore crane.
The ship-to-shore crane is a key piece of equipment in port operations, picking up and depositing containers. But as Trevor O'Donoghue from Liebherr's sales and marketing department explains, this sector is moving with the times: “There are a number of trends dominating the STS market at present. Some of the main ones are automation and a continued demand for larger cranes.”
Mikko Vuojolainen, vice president of crane upgrades, services at Kalmar comments on the developing market: “We are witnessing demands for capacity increases whereas at the same time there is pressure to decrease cost per move. Environmental issues are also growing in importance. We will see the share of automation to grow both in existing and greenfield terminals. With these developments STS cranes will become more productive, faster and higher.”

Take your pick 
In order to ensure that STS cranes can manage the workloads with fast, accurate efficiency, again there are two choices. It's possible to augment the current STS crane by extending, strengthening or heightening it. On the other hand, purchasing a new, up-to-date STS crane is a tempting proposition. These two choices depend on a variety of factors: not just the costs, but also the size and layout of the port, the potential disruption to ongoing operations and the longevity of the cranes.
“Increasing capacity is always a strategic decision whether it is about acquiring new equipment or upgrading existing one,” explains Mr Vuojolainen. “We do not see upgrades or acquiring new equipment as rivals but as options that the port has to decide on based on their unique situation and their development plans. There has to be a solid case to support the investment, and some ports may choose to focus on smaller ships.”
Mr O'Donoghue says that the port's decision to replace the current crane is determined by a number of key factors: “Obviously if a port wishes to replace their current cranes, limits may be imposed by the port’s infrastructure. For example, the engineering and load bearing ability of the existing quay and the rail span will be key factors in the design of any new crane. Furthermore, the depth of a harbour will determine the size of ship that can access a particular port, which in turn defines the crane size needed.”
As Mr O'Donoghue explains, there are a number of benefits in replacing the old STS crane with a brand new model. “Where there are no obstacles to replacing quay cranes, and the cost of acquiring a new crane has been considered, there are numerous advantages to replacing existing STS cranes such as increased productivity, ability to handle larger vessels, reduced maintenance and labour costs, increased reliability and availability, reduced cost per box moved and environmental benefits.”
Mr Vuojolainen adds: “Typically new equipment is a natural choice for expanding an existing site or for pure greenfield projects. The advantages include more straight forward planning and getting benefits of latest technology in all of the crane features.”

Upgrade choice 
On the other hand, the decision to improve an existing STS crane is still a popular one. As Mr Vuojolainen says, this option can be a result of two of the most important factors of any business: time and money.
“The biggest advantage of upgrading existing STS cranes is overall investment size, which for example for a heightening upgrade is significantly lower than for a completely new crane. If the overall terminal capacity doesn’t absolutely require additional crane, upgrading is usually the most effective way to address performance related challenges. Another big advantage is speed, even in cases where major refurbishment is required. The lead time for new equipment is typically in the region of between 12 to 24 months whereas the upgrading timeframes are much shorter.
“For example in STS heightening, the average time for the crane to be out of operation is only six weeks, after preparing a project execution for some two to four months. On the other hand, the six weeks also poses a problem, because the existing crane will be out of operation instead of adding an additional crane into terminal capacity.”
Mr O'Donoghue says that while there are benefits to upgrading existing cranes, port operators should also be aware of a number of potential issues: “The advantage to increasing the crane's height or outreach means the port can handle a wider range of vessels with existing cranes. The primary disadvantages are the cost for facilitating larger extensions. As the scale of the extension increases, so too will the cost. In addition only the ‘new work’ will be guaranteed and you still have an old crane which may be close to the end of its design life.”
He adds that port operators will often wish to increase the capacity of their crane to meet reconfigured vessels where there may be more containers on deck both in the vertical and horizontal axes for a given ship size. “Increasing the height of a crane is possible and often when designing a crane, a future increase in height is specified and the crane is designed with this in mind.”

Cost benefit 
The cost of modification will depend on the size of the changes required, and in addition the new changes will need to take on board the original crane's limitations. “Small increases in outreach may often be possible with minimum modifications to existing hardware on a crane,” says Mr O'Donoghue. “Whereas larger modifications may be realised but the cost will increase accordingly. When originally designed, the crane would have been engineered to tolerate particular loads and stresses. Increasing the outreach substantially will exceed these limits and so the crane hardware and structure will have to be modified accordingly.”
It's also vital that the supplier chosen to upgrade the STS crane has the relevant experience and expertise to successfully complete the project. “A sizeable STS crane project, be it upgrading an existing crane or getting a new one, always calls for special expertise, careful planning and engineering,” says Mr Vuojolainen. “Whether the port decides to invest in new equipment or utilise their current assets, it is key that the potential supplier has strong track record and is willing to make a long term commitment. The average lifetime of a STS crane is about 25 years and the port operator has to be able to rely on the support from the supplier and that their choice proves to be sustainable over the coming years – not only fulfilling current requirements.”
Whether the port operator chooses to upgrade the existing STS crane or select a brand new model, there are benefits to be gained from either decision. The costs, facilities and specific requirements don't make this a one-size-fits-all decision, but with the right planning, budget and expertise, the STS crane can continue to maintain its place as one of the key tools in effective port operations.

Looking for a newer model
Port operators will find that replacing an STS crane is a strong option to suit a particular requirement. The Port of Oslo recently proved that this was the case when signing a deal for two new Konecranes panamax STS cranes which are due to be put into practice in the third quarter of this year.
The aim of these two new cranes is to ensure that noise and CO2 levels are kept to a minimum. The new STS cranes boast a number of special features including LED lights for stronger eco-efficiency and trim/list/skew systems.
Replacing an old STS crane with a newer, up-to-date model is a good move when expanding a current port. Peel Ports' announcement of expanding and developing the extant Liverpool Port was accompanied by the news that ZPMC will be supplying an initial load of five STS megamax quay cranes. The new cranes have the ability to handle two 380m vessels at the same time. Speed and efficiency are the key watchwords, and the cranes will also be able to transfer containers from port to road or rail in faster time as a result of the semi-automated remote control facility.
Upgrading existing cranes has been equally popular. Kalmar was recently contracted to increase the heights of three STS cranes at Terminal Contenidors de Barcelona in Spain. The contract was a result of the growth in container traffic. The Kalmar team offered solutions that deliver on innovation while keeping operation disruption to a minimum. The process will involve specialist equipment including a jacking device that can insert height while maintaining the structure's rigidity.