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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Have your heard of LVI Lo-Lo (Large Vessel Interface LIft-on Lift Off Crane ???

Containers placed on deck of the ship is a sight to behold – a large no. would be inside the ship as well. The movement of goods from place to place and the logistics of handling is a very complex subject. Have you ever imagined, how the imported perfume or soap or the green apple that you bought in a nearby store has moved from its country of origin – too difficult to imagine.

Containerisation i.e., using transport containers which are loaded and sealed has enabled free movement of cargo in a very big way. But for handling the standard 20ft / 40ft containers – specialised equipments are required, so also places for storage / handling and movement. Long ago, all containerisation used to take place in Port due to which it was congested and movement was slow. Now all operations including stowing / destuffing takes place at different vantage points. There are specialised equipments for stowing into the container as also for handling the containers – placing them on truck, moving them in the yards, placing them on or aboard the ships etc.,

The importers and exporters now have the option of having the goods cleared at the gateway ports or at any nearby Inland container depots at hinterlands , a far cry from the days of handling only at the Ports. It is not simply, manufacturing the goods, locating the customer, pack the goods and send them – most commercial goods are placed in a container, which moves by road / rail, to a Port then placed on container ships – to the destination port, movement inland before they reach the end user.

Nay, there is more to it. Not all containership movement occur from the port of loading to port of destination. Most times, there may not be direct transit. For example goods sent from India to US, many a times would be discharged either at Colombo or at Singapore Port and after a short lay off, would again get loaded on to mother vessels. Your precious cargo might lie unguarded exposed to so many vagaries + the extra handling from vessel to port and then to vessel again. This obviously involves longer duration due to multiple handling. There are specialized equipments like port containers / stackers and others for handling them. The containers could fall overboard in rough weather and some could even be lost at the time of handling.

When such movement takes place, generally there are also exchange of equipments from a carrier to another. Thus your cargo could travel from a vessel not known to you at the initial stage in the care and custody of another carrier whom you have not nominated !!
The containers are brilliantly constructed enabling easy lift and handling by specialized equipments and by usual cranes / stackers /straddle cranes / portainers either by cables or by lifting them from top or locking at spreaders. The overhead rails at ports and container depots enable easier and faster handling.
The essence of revolutionary concepts is simplification and reduction in time, effort and costs involved. If what is tested becomes fully operational, the vast areas utilized for storage and handling at various ports, the men and machinery involved in handling – all would become redundant.

The handling, storage and time taken could change revolutionary with the new equipment tested at sea in Gulf of Mexico where 128 containers were safely transferred from one ship to another….

Another place, no BUT TO ANOTHER SHIP IN THE MID SEA!!!!! – in sea with waves of upto 1 meter in height. The operators picked up and placed down an unobstructed container, lifted a container obstructed on several sides, and lowered containers into obstructed "holes."

This was the testing of an innovative ship crane by US Navy which manufacturers claim can safely perform ship-to-ship cargo transfer while at sea. Called the LVI (lo-lo) Large Vessel Interface Lift On-Lift Off crane, this is able to compensate for surging waves, eliminating the need for a secure deep-water port in emergency or combat situations. They can also facilitate standard supply transfer to ships in choppy seas. Developed by the Sea Warfare and Weapons Department in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) along with Oceaneering International, the crane comes equipped with sensors and cameras as well as motion-sensing algorithms that let it automatically shift with the rolling and pitching of the sea, making it much easier for operators to centre the crane over cargo and transfer it.

With regards – Sampathkumar S

Here are some details on LVI Lo/Lo Crane from Office of Naval Research (LVI)

The LVI Lo/Lo crane is an advanced motion-compensated at-sea cargo transfer system that will be able to transfer fully-loaded cargo containers between ships at sea in Sea State 4 and below by providing six degrees-of-freedom control of the payload without taglines. The system enables the rapid and safe at-sea transfer of standard ISO containers and other heavy loads from military and commercially available ships onto the Sea Base.  The LVI Lo/Lo crane is a key technology for enabling the fl ow of joint logistics through the Sea Base. Currently, to off -load a container ship,it must have a safe deep-water port. By adding the LVI Lo/Lo crane to the Sea Base, the container ship can be off -loaded at sea, with the containers transferred to other modes of transportation for the final leg to the shore. This eliminates the need for a secure deep-water port and enables the flow of containerized logistics through the Sea Base to the shore.

The Large Vessel Interface Lift-on/Lift-off Crane, or LVI Lo/Lo crane system, and the supporting technologies being developed under this program, combine to provide an advanced cargo at-sea transfer capability that will allow vastly improved cargo throughput within the Sea Base. The LVI Lo/Lo crane capability is being developed as a “system-of-systems” and provides advanced technologies that surpass existing technologies currently being used in the modern marine and material handling industries.

The system is comprised of a crane architecture supported by a sensor suite to detect crane, payload and ship positions/motions, and a control system to automate motion compensation and optimize operator demands. The crane architecture has two main subsystems. The “macro crane” consists of an eccentric arm that attaches to the ship and has the main crane housing at the end of the arm. A boom extends outward from this crane housing. The gross relative motions are removed by controlling the movements of the eccentric arm and the boom. The “micro crane” is an eight-wire “inverted stewart platform” hanging from a wrist at the end of the boom. Each pair of wires is attached to one corner of a spreader bar that has twist-locks to attach to the top of a standard 20-foot ISO shipping container. The micro crane removes the remainder of the relative motion and matches the motion of the spreader bar to the top of the container and locks the container to the spreader bar for transfer.
When the container is attached to the spreader bar, it can be controlled in all six degrees of freedom and does not pendulate due to the natural anti-pendulation properties of the inverted stewart platform combined with the system’s active motion control. At a minimum, when the LVI Lo/Lo crane system is delivered, it will contain these subsystems: an advanced crane system (electromechanical actuators, machinery control software, energy storage, machinery sensors); and wave/ship motion sensing and control. When delivered, the LVI Lo/Lo crane will give the warfi ghter the ability to move containerized logistics through the Sea Base without having a secure deep water port for off-loading container ships. This greatly increases the throughput of the Sea Base and provides a key part of the logistics enabler for the initial fl ow and ongoing support of a Joint Task Force to the shore through the Sea Base.

Normally, ships require a sheltered harbour with calm waters to prevent cargo from swinging violently. The crane is available to support US humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations, according to ONR.

(Picture credit: US Navy Photo by John F. Williams; News Courtesy :


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  3. Such a great article to read. Thanks for sharing the valuable information. This kind of article, I never read in any blog. Keep posting good info!

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