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Diesel Hybrid Rubber-Tired Gantry Crane in Service in Canada

RTGs at one of TSI’s terminals. As an indicator of scale, the “boxes” at right are stacked shipping containers. Click to enlarge.

Terminal Systems Inc. (TSI), the largest port terminal operator in Canada, and Railpower Technologies Corp. have completed the preliminary testing of Railpower’s first ECO Crane diesel hybrid power plant installed on one of TSI’s 60-tonne rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGs).

The diesel/battery hybrid power plant has achieved 74% fuel savings during these first active duty tests, a performance never accomplished before using alternative approaches. This installation is the first of three units slated for TSI.

RTGs are mobile equipment that load and unload containers onto trucks in the terminal. Conventional RTGs are driven by electric motors powered by large on-board diesel generation sets.

Railpower’s patent pending ECO Crane technology combines two features: capacity to level the power provided by the prime power source to the average demand, and capacity to regenerate an average of 70% of the energy when hoisting containers down. This is achieved by using a smaller than conventional diesel generator and a lead-acid battery equipped energy storage system. The ECO Crane system can be used as a replacement for existing generator sets as well as being installed on new crane equipment.

The fuel burn rate observed during active typical duty cycles was 2.08 gal/h for a fuel power efficiency of 12 kWh/gal, very close to the most efficient existing generators used for residential and industrial power supply. The conventional diesel generators used on conventional RTG cranes of this size burn approximately 8.0 gal/h for active duty cycles.

As RTGs usually operate in active duty during half to two-thirds of the time that they are powered for service, the average fuel savings over a long period could be even better. The reduction of emissions of green house gases has not yet been measured but will, at a minimum, be as significant as the reduction of fuel consumption.

The hybrid powered RTG crane has been incorporated into TSI’s fleet and has been operating daily on the terminal.

The hybrid conversion of TSI’s RTG cranes is one of our key initiatives to reduce emissions. Last year, we were the first container terminal in Canada to implement a biodiesel fuel program. Our commitment to the environment is to further reduce emissions and our impact on the natural environment wherever practicable. We currently operate more than 40 RTG cranes at our two container terminals in the lower mainland. If the prototype continues to be successful, TSI intends to enter into an agreement with Railpower to continue retrofitting our fleet of RTG cranes with Railpower’s hybrid power plant system.

—Norman Stark, President and CEO of TSI



Interesting application of hybrid tech. I though most gantry cranes ran on rails. With a fixed path the cranes could easily be powered by electricity. But since the are free to roam, a hybrid makes sense. Maybe Railpower and TSI can develop a hybrid for those computerized driverless trucks that move containers at some ports, too.

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