Q&A: MacGregor on sustainable maritime cargo handling

Written by Heather Ervin
MacGregor on marine sustainability and cargo handling

Credit: MacGregor

MacGregor is a leading supplier of engineering solutions and services for sustainable maritime cargo and load handling, providing a wide portfolio of products and services that are designed to perform well with the sea, and optimize safety as well as environmental sustainability.

Marine Log spoke with MacGregor President Leif Byström about MacGregor’s solutions and products, as well as maritime sustainability more broadly. 

Marine Log (ML): Can you begin by describing what sustainability means to MacGregor, both broadly and in the context of the maritime industry? 

Leif Byström (LB): MacGregor is a world-leading provider of cargo and load handling solutions with a proven history of sustainability and performance at its heart. We are part of the Cargotec Group, and, as such, fully supportive of the group’s commitment to become a 1.5 degree company through achieving a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030.

ML: As MacGregor’s website notes, the core reason that the maritime industry exists is to efficiently transport cargo and carry out safe and reliable operations at sea. How does MacGregor balance reducing emissions while also maintaining efficiency?

LB: This is where MacGregor has a key role to play. Our products and services help customers mitigate environmental risks, optimize cargo flows and port turnaround times, reduce overall operational costs with a focus on safety, increased efficiency and maximizing equipment availability.

For example, MacGregor’s Cargo Boost containership upgrade service focuses on gains available for specific routes. A Cargo Boost project involves the evaluation of container stowage arrangements, structural checks and class approvals, and then collaboratively developing an upgrade and installation plan to boost capacity and reduce emissions per unit of cargo carried.

Ninety-four Cargo Boost upgrades have been completed since introduction in 2015, including with some of the world’s largest container shipping lines. Orders for a further 54 ships were received during 2021, with an additional 100+ contracts for documentation upgrades (cargo securing manuals, stack weight increases etc). 

MacGregor’s next generation range of variable frequency drive (VFD) electric cranes, which were introduced during Q4 2021, are up to 50% more efficient compared to the traditional closed-loop hydraulic design. As a result, the next generation range provides significant benefits with respect to operating efficiency, emissions and noise reduction and eliminates the risk of hydraulic oil leakage. 

Leif Byström

ML: In developing new value-creating sustainable solutions to improve customers’ operating efficiency and reduce emissions through new solutions, has MacGregor drawn inspiration from any other industries for sustainability models? Or relied on any vital collaborations? 

LB: MacGregor’s OnWatch Scout condition-based and predictive maintenance service is a good example of where we have taken a collaborative approach that has engaged shipowners and operators at an early stage in the development process.

In parallel, we have applied a unique combination of our design and engineering experience, advanced monitoring capabilities and the machine learning and artificial intelligence expertise of our partner, Arundo Analytics, to develop a digital-technology based solution that provides significant operational benefits.

OnWatch Scout has received recognition through receipt of the 2022 SMART4SEA Technology Award, and we have seen an accelerated uptake of the service during the past two years with 10 installations completed comprising six merchant and four offshore vessels. Contracts for a further 50 vessels were secured during 2021.

ML: How does MacGregor’s sustainability goals target the entire value chain, rather than just the company’s individual operations? 

LB: MacGregor’s climate roadmap for the forthcoming years is built on a holistic, fact-based approach with the objective to deliver a quantitative reduction in emissions. Our work is focused in three main areas:

  • Customer operation emissions reduction achieved through improved asset utilization and operational efficiencies;
  • Energy efficiency improvements in our equipment during their use phase; and
  • Sourcing and manufacturing related emissions reduction.
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