Inside Liebherr Container Cranes

Liebherr Container Cranes threw open their doors to over 8000 members public on Sunday 20th of July in their home town of Killarney, Kerry, Ireland. This was following the success of a similar day a number of years ago and to mark the opening of two new buildings to house their latest technology in crane building.

Crowds thronged the facility from midmorning to marvel at the manufacture of Ship-to –Shore cranes even though it was a day more suited to the beach!

There were many different reasons why people wanted to visit, given the diversity of skills and technology based at the one location. The Republic of Ireland does not have many “heavy industries” as it has become a service based economy, so it’s a bit of a novelty.

Northern Ireland has a lot more factories with iconic brands like F.G. Wilson Generators (Acquired by CAT), Bombardier and Harland and Wolff leading the way in heavy industry up there.

Many employee’s families attended also on their own dedicated day on the Saturday, which I suspect is to find out what exactly their husband or father does at work, given the variety of machines available. I personally, have the same problem in explaining what exactly “Sitecert” does given that it is a niche product using the latest mobile technology. Although, the popularity of smartphones and “Apps” now makes that a bit easier!

Over ten years ago, I used to work at Liebherr and actually used to give factory tours to those who were vacationing in Killarney – mostly to other Liebherr Group employees.

There are many changes since in Liebherr other than physically with the introduction of new robotic machines to assist with the construction of world class cranes. The tour was focused around the new buildings and these new machines

Robotic Welding machine

which was a delight being from an engineering and technology background. Some of the milling machines in the “Machine Room” have been in place since the opening of the factory over 50 years ago which were also on display, much to the enjoyment of traditionalists.

Just like Bauma, Liebherr did not allow photos on the day which is now the standard within the industry to protect intellectual property.  The pictures on this post are from Twitter @LH_Maritime , and their Google+ page so already in the public forum.

Previously I worked in both the in Production Planning and Safety Departments, but on this tour I was more interested in the lifting equipment and how the huge crane components are lifted.

I was not let down by the size of overhead cranes on site, variety of spreader beams and other lifting appliances, both big and small.

One lifting device which I had not seen before was the “Combilift SC” also made in Ireland. It is a remote controlled “Pick and Lift” crane on wheels. It was used on the day as a demonstration for transporting “Wheel units”. The versatility of these machines is something to behold – and even more unusual when there is no drivers cabin.

Remote Control Combilift

Liebherr, being the experts in this area manufactured their own rail mounted cranes to transport material into the “Cutting Hall” so they are truly self-sufficient when it comes to material handling. You can see one in action here bringing section to be shot blasted.

Inhouse Built Rail-mounted crane

Incidentally, the shotblasting machine is the biggest combined shot blaster manufactured by Wheelabrator, in Germany. What makes it unusual is that the parts continually move through the machine and therefore there is no doors on the shotblasting machines but rubber lamellas and brushes enclose the area.

Wheelabrator Shotblasting Machine

With this automated Wheelabrator parts are shotblasted between 35%-60% faster compared to the “manual method”. The “manual method” I’m sure is still used for awkward sized components  and involves an operator cabin suspended from an overhead crane who controls two robotic arms to deliver the shot.

You can read more about the “Wheelabrator Shotblaster” by clicking here.

They have a wide variety of different overhead crane manufacturers which I incorrectly thought would be from all the one manufacture to save on the service and preventative maintenance.  However, there were a number of different type of overhead cranes which I suspect is partially due to avoid buying direct competitors equipment.

Having an 80ton overhead crane is often an iconic show piece in a factory, but having 80ton cranes side-by-side is a sight to behold.  As you can see from the picture they went for a number of “ABUS” 80t cranes to turn the “booms” of the crane.

Abus 80t Cranes

Only once before had we seen so many high capacity overhead cranes in close proximity. Our customers often bring us to their premium clients to show off the “Sitecert” system they are investing in. We ended up at the “Bombardier” train factory in Derby, UK where heavy items are lifted daily also.

That trip was also memorable as trains had been made on site for over 135 years and it

Bombardier Factory, Derby

was like the set from “Thomas the Tank” with the movement of carriages and the old brick sheds.

Liebherr has been a very good employer in the area with may employees exceeding 40 years service which is always a good sign of a company.

I was the 3rd generation to working in Liebherr – which I am very proud of. Working there provided my initial interest in the lifting industry and lead to where we are today.

Keeping that experience inhouse has enabled Liebherr to stay at the top for reliability and quality in ship-to-shore cranes. Price is not the only one element considered when purchasing a ship to shore crane with following playing a major part.

  1. Crane Lifetime,
  2. Reliability,
  3. Downtime costs,
  4. Maintenance costs,
  5. Spare Parts Availability/Costs.

Liebherr has an exemplary record on all of these and hence the return business they have from ports. Liebherr can actually trace every metal part back to the original plate it was cut from and mill that supplied it. This gives great comfort to ports where an unscheduled breakdown can be very costly.

Given the numbers that attended over the weekend, they will make the open day a regular occurance. We will let you know of any events scheduled via our twitter account. @Sitecert

Thanks for reading.

Liebherr Contact Details:

Liebherr Container Cranes Ltd.
Killarney, Co. Kerry
Phone+353 64 6670-200
Fax+353 64 6631-602

Twitter: @LH_Maritime

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