Every day, millions of containers are loaded and unloaded worldwide from container vessels. Our client PSA Antwerp operates 3 container terminals in the port of Antwerp where every year 10 million TUE’s are handled (that is the equivalent of 10 million twenty foot containers).
When the vessels sail out to sea, they encounter external forces in six axes. These motions are especially a threat for those vessels that require cargo lashing and securing it on the open deck. Two support systems are used to ensure all containers on deck are secured: interlocking cones that link one container to another (twistlocks) and a system of rods and turnbuckles by which the containers are lashed to the deck.
The interlocking cones have been engineered to allow hooking up fast and simple compared to the system of rods and turnbuckles. Lashing containers is a dangerous and labor-intensive job. Too many accidents occur when handling lashing materials, because lashers still need to use their body weight to loosen and tighten turnbuckles. This increases the risk of injuries to back, wrists and elbows.
PSA Antwerp decided to set up an innovation project with Verhaert Consulting to re-evaluate the approach of lashing and to develop a new type of turnbuckle so that manual rotation can be replaced with a semi-automatic loosening or tightening rotation.
The project was called PULSE (PSA’s Unique Lashing System Enhancement). At the start of the project we gathered lots of information about lashing systems, patents, manufactures and suppliers, user data, user flow and common injuries that occur while lashing.
After analyzing the collected data, we decided that we had to come up with a semi-automatic way to loosen and fasten turnbuckles. Back at the drawing board we came up with 3 next-generation turnbuckles that can be actuated by an external device, such as a battery driven torque wrench. Each turnbuckle concept was elaborated and that resulted in the making of three fully functioning prototypes. The first prototype came up with an ergonomic fit but didn’t survive the breaking test. The ergonomic build-in system didn’t allow a flawless linear reaction force and we experienced unwanted momentums. The second prototype had an integrated gearbox, which allowed us to adjust the torque/speed ratio. The third turnbuckle had a retrofit that consisted of a switch that could change between automatic and manual rotation.
After a field test on a container vessel we evaluated and decided that the third concept would be best concept. For PSA Antwerp, it became immediately clear that this innovation had great potential for industry-wide use: they approved the worldwide patent application to protect the innovation. As a result of our development, they have a turnbuckle that’s is easy to handle, easy to use on existing vessels and new builds, at a similar price.
- Both manual and automatic rotation possible
- Same Working Load Limit en Safe Working load as current turnbuckle
- Direct implementation on current ships
- Ergonomic action
- Field research and observation current method
- Lashing methods
- Simulation and strength calculations
- Studying and testing prototypes
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