Terminals can now achieve the proven benefits of tandem lifting containers without the heavy investment in new cranes and infrastructure thanks to the development of the BLOK Spreader
The BLOK Spreader is an ‘autonomous’ spreader adapter that allows single spreader operations to handle two empty containers as easily as one and allows these containers to be loaded or unloaded faster. The spreader is extremely versatile as it can be clipped on an off the existing single spreader as quickly as picking up a container and is controlled wirelessly by the crane driver via a clip-on screen and camera. As it works with STS cranes that have a 25 tonne capacity below the current spreader, it is suitable for the majority of container terminals. The BLOK Spreader makes sense for trailer terminals and straddle terminals and for the latter landing frames can be used to align containers and speed up the process. 
There is already a considerable body of research that shows that the use of tandem spreaders can help terminals reduce reloading time and increase their capacity. What is new is that the BLOK Spreader can be applied without the complications or costs normally associated with setting up tandem operations. 
The attachment time and crane ride time between shore and location on vessel for one or multiple containers is the same so it is obvious that ‘multiple handling’ has the potential for big savings. That crane ride time has also been getting longer as vessels have increased in size. 
With the right organization on the quayside, less time consumed with container handling on and off vessels can also mean faster turnaround for shipping lines which saves money, fuel and emissions. 
The efficiency case for current twin and tandem spreaders is well made but widespread adoption has been limited by the associated infrastructure cost and the development capacity of many established terminals. 
Research by the Facility of Transport Engineering at the University of Pardubice, Czech Republic back in 2019 for example, demonstrated that while most portal cranes in container terminals perform up to 30 reloading operations per hour, tandem spreaders can increase this to 40 per hour which increases the daily and annual capacity of the cranes and container terminals. Additional benefits included the more efficient use of labour, increased operating capacity of the quay edge and shorter vessel time in port. The same research showed that tandem operations saved $6 per reloading of the terminals’ infrastructure costs. So tandem operations increase capacity and while also making the reloading system more profitable. 
The BLOK Spreader is available for demonstration by appointment at London Container Terminal. 
For more information contact Selwyn.rowley@blokcontainersystems.com or call 0441927611700. 
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