Single sail for Cape Town as crane production soars


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Cape Town-based BB Cranes has released details of a number of recent orders, the result of skills transfer from Condra, the parent company in Johannesburg.

Of note on the list are two Class 4 cranes, the first built by BB and possibly the first of this class ever made in the mother city. Heavy duty double girder cranes of identical design can be operated in two or three shifts and feature fast long and cross travel speeds to maximize productivity.

Housed in a Wellington factory producing export-grade charcoal from invasive exotic trees, the twin cranes will be hard-working machines moving pots of charcoal in a continuous cycle between kilns and cooling stations and packaging.

The identical 5 tons will have spans of 15 meters and lifting heights of 9.4 meters. Controlled by pendants, they will lift at speeds of up to 8 meters per minute. Cross-travel speeds will be 38 meters per minute, and long-travel speeds up to 80 meters per minute, which is equivalent to walking at exercise pace.

“This order is significant for BB Cranes as it demonstrates that machines with this kind of advanced specification can and are being built in the backyard of Cape Town,” said Stephen Brink, GM, BB Cranes.

“We received transferred skills from Condra for this level of crafting, a big win for us. And our customer wins because the cost of importing these cranes, or transporting them from Johannesburg, has been eliminated.

In addition to the two Class 4 machines, BB Cranes will manufacture four gantry cranes and four overhead cranes for two separate shipbuilding companies in Cape Town itself.

The four gantry cranes are for Two Oceans Marine, a Cape Town shipbuilder specializing in the luxury catamaran sector. The cranes will be for an existing customer.

BB Cranes’ reputation in the manufacture of gantry cranes continues to grow. Earlier this year, the company delivered gantry cranes to separate end users for manufacturing refrigeration systems and container handling.

For Two Oceans Marine, the gates will be medium-duty Class 2 machines, marrying new windchests and custom legs with refurbished box girders and 5-tonne hoists originally made by Condra and bought out at a Pretoria customer some time ago to make room for factory upgrade.

An interesting aspect of this order is that the gantries have been designed to fit into an existing plant without compromising the specified lifting height of 6.5 metres. Condra SH Series low profile compact hoists will be used to achieve this. They will have suitable gear ratios to allow the fiberglass catamarans to be moved efficiently but carefully, avoiding damage to their very high quality finish.

Delivery to Two Oceans Marine is scheduled for early September.

BB Cranes’ second shipbuilding order is expected to be confirmed by an existing customer soon. This will consist of four additional double girder overhead cranes to handle the lifting needs of a factory extension. The company already uses Condra cranes extensively to build its high-end yachts. The four additional machines will be standard units with spans of 27 meters and twin hoists reaching a lifting height of 6.5 meters.

The signing of the technical drawings of the four cranes is imminent.

Commenting on the three orders, Brink expressed optimism about the future: “Cape Town is busy. We are expecting orders for sewage treatment plants in George and other orders for pumping stations and aqueducts closer to home. BB Cranes enjoys a competitive advantage in this market due to the shot peened zinc metal spray paint specification, supplied in South Africa by a single company, also based in Cape Town,” he said.

“To help our customers meet their environmental commitments, we are stepping up the green side of our production inputs and refining our output waste recycling flows. At the same time, we are increasing the production capacity. I’m optimistic.”

A Condra double girder crane being tested.


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