'Booming' business at Port of Indiana

Submitted photo / Ports of IndianaTwo large rubber-tire gantry cranes destined for the CSX Intermodal Terminals’ facility in Bedford Park, Illinois, are offloaded from the cargo vessel HC Melina on June 28 at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in 68 pieces. They will be taken to the CSX facility near Chicago to be assembled. 

PORTAGE ­­— The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has been open for nearly 50 years, but experienced a first last month when the general cargo vessel HC Melina arrived, carrying a unique shipment.

Two large rubber-tire gantry (RTG) cranes, destined for the CSX Intermodal Terminals’ facility near Chicago, were offloaded at the port on June 28 in 68 pieces, according to Port Director Ian Hirt.

“Once the shipment is fully assembled, the RTG cranes will have a span of eight containers wide with a hoisting height of over four containers high,” Hirt said. “The high-performance equipment will replace two older units at the CSX Intermodal Terminals’ Bedford Park facility, which handles domestic and international freight.”

The port has become well-known internationally for “heavy lift” and “project cargo” because of its ocean access, proximity to the U.S. heartland, and capability of handling large-dimensional cargo, he said.

Federal Marine Terminals, the general cargo stevedore at Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, handles commodities including steel, breakbulk cargos, forest products and project cargo, such as wind turbine components and massive beer tanks.

“FMT’s maximum lifting capacity for a two-crane lift is 199.6 metric tons, or 440,000 pounds, nearing the top of any port’s capabilities in the U.S. Great Lakes or Canada,” according to Hirt.

“The port’s facilities, location and solid infrastructure allow companies to ship cargoes by water directly into the Midwest, significantly reducing the transportation costs and permitting requirements for moving large loads over the highway,” he said.

“Intermodal transport requires all modes to work together seamlessly, and the gantry crane shipment is an example of the efficient transportation attributes and its connectivity in the Midwest.”

The rigid and stable steel structure allows precise handling with smooth movements even at high speeds, according to Hirt. The upgraded gantry equipment offers high availability, increased productivity, and will produce lower emissions with new diesel technology, according to Tom Tisa, head of marketing and strategic development for CSX.

The cranes are designed to load and offload containers from trains, then place them on trucks for final delivery to a warehouse or distribution center, he said. The cranes also stack shipping containers to optimize storage at the terminal.

“Our proximity to Burns Harbor allowed us to receive our cargo quickly and efficiently,” Tisa said. “The new cranes are uniquely suited to support our evolving intermodal operations. Their enhanced functionality and durability reinforce our focus on safety and productivity.”

The gantry cranes arrived from Liebherr Container Cranes, based in Killarney, Ireland, and were discharged from the HC Melina vessel by FMT’s shore crane. The cargo was then loaded onto a truck for final delivery to Bedford Park.

They will be assembled over the next two months and be in service by the end of August, Tisa said.

—From staff reports

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