Tandem lift in Northland sends Auckland ferry pontoon on its way

30 November 2020

Two pontoon modules for the new ferry terminal in central Auckland were lowered into Whangarei harbour today in carefully-orchestrated tandem lifts involving Northport’s two mobile harbour cranes. They were among the last of nine modules built by Ruakaka-based SPIIND Industrial Engineers at its facility on Marsden Point Road, all of which were put into the water at Northport and towed by tug to Auckland.

The finished units were transported to a dedicated facility near the port, built by SPIIND with the help of commercial and industrial land-owner and developer Marsden Maritime Holdings. Here they were painted and readied for their voyage down the coast.

They were then transported at night to Northport’s wharf on specialised heavy-haul transporters. The port had to remove a segment of boundary fencing to enable the loads to enter. The tandem lifts were timed to coincide precisely with a morning slack tide.

Northport chief executive Jon Moore said logistics for the lifts had required extensive coordination with SPIIND and four other contractors; Pollock Cranes, PTS Logistics, Kaipara Towboats and Lucas Marine Services. Lift planning was undertaken by Pollock Cranes who also supplied the rigging equipment and expertise.

SPIIND managing director Paul Hebberd said his firm’s location close to Northport meant he could offer his customers cost-effective assembly and transportation options for larger items of engineering work, with further similar large defence works planned for overseas markets.

“Northport’s ability to handle large loads with its two mobile harbour cranes is a deal-maker,” he said. “Finding another suitable transportation option would not have been easy and would no doubt have added significant cost to the project.”

Early planning with Northport had helped SPIIND make the most of the tandem lift and coastal transportation option. The company was able to extend its manufacturing window, allowing it to add several components to the large module while still keeping it within the lift criteria.

“The fact that we were able to do this additional work in the controlled environment of our Ruakaka factory, instead of on site, will no doubt have improved the quality of the delivery,” Mr Hebberd said.

Northport’s Jon Moore said the port was well suited to handle large cargo and his team was able to add significant value to any project planning process.

“Early consultation and a collaborative approach is important,” he said. “We can ensure that designers are aware of limitations around weight or width, avoiding the need for costly changes to design and even identifying where savings and efficiencies might be made.”

The module lifts were made possible by Northport’s acquisition of its second Konecranes Gottwald Model 6 Mobile Harbour Crane. Northport purchased it to support a growing container trade and to provide increased resilience for dedicated container vessels using the port.  Its maximum lifting capacity of 125 tonnes, together with the 100-tonne lift of Northport’s first crane, gives the port increased flexibility in handling general and heavy cargo.

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About Northport

Northport, situated at Marsden Point at the mouth of Whangarei Harbour, is New Zealand’s northernmost deep-water port. It is a flexible facility catering for large, multi-purpose vessels and full cargo handling facilities are available from its 570 metre linear berth.

Logs, woodchip and processed timber for export comprise the bulk of cargo handled by the port. Recent investment in container handling equipment has seen an uptake in coastal and international container trade. Other export items include kiwifruit, dairy products and manufactured goods. Imports are an important part of Northport’s business and include fertiliser, gypsum, coal and palm kernel.

The port is owned and operated by Northport Ltd, itself owned jointly and equally by Marsden Maritime Holdings Ltd and the Port of Tauranga Ltd.