The new facility at Lazaro Cardenas is scheduled for completion in late 2016.
The new facility at Lazaro Cardenas is scheduled for completion in late 2016.

Sometime ago, APM Terminals demonstrated incredible foresight in developing two new terminals in the United States, one on the US West Coast, the other on the US East Coast. Since APMT had built and operated a number of terminals around the U.S. in ports such as Port Elizabeth, Mobile, Alabama; Houston, Texas and Tacoma, Washington, the fact that they constructed new terminals was not in itself significant. What was significant, however, is the impact of Pier 400 at the Port of Los Angeles and the APM Terminal in Portsmouth, Virginia. Today, these facilities incorporate capacities and technology that have defined container handling for the future in North America.
With these two terminals, APMT represented the only terminal operator in the U.S. with cranes that have the capacity to handle the new super post panama vessels and the ability to handle multiple containers in single lifts. New facilities being built by rival terminal operators at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, will be coming on line in the very near future to challenge this superiority, however, what sets APMT’s facility off from the rest at this moment is the capacity of their container gantry cranes. These cranes are capable of lifting 103 tons under the hook with boom positions that easily reach out and over the newest super sized ships,

Many ports and independent marine terminals throughout North America are now in the process of either installing upgraded equipment or have recently awarded contracts for facilities and equipment that will not only be able to work the new supersize container vessels but process the volume of containers to be discharged and loaded. In late December, APMT at its Los Angeles facility, Pier 400, worked the super post panamax vessel CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin. The “Franklin” is the largest vessel to call at a U.S. port. The 18,000 TEU vessel represented a Christmas present of sorts for APMT, arriving and working on Christmas day. On the East Coast, ports and terminals hasten to catch up, while the final touches are made on the Panama Canal. The Portsmouth marine terminal, however, renamed the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) by new owner, the Virginia Ports Authority, has been prepared for some time.

APMT in Latin America

In a similar manner, APMT has embarked upon the creation of new, state of the art terminals in Latin America. The APMT Moin project in Costa Rica is under development and they have indicated interest in a new facility in Vera Cruz. Phase I of the new facility at Lazaro Cardenas (TEC 2) is scheduled for completion in late 2016. When completed, this phase will have a capacity approaching 1.2 million TEUs. APMT received a 32 year concession for design, construction and operation of this terminal at an overall price tag of $900 million.

The position of the APMT terminal at Lazaro Cardenas is secure. It will be one of the most technologically advanced facilities along the Pacific Coast. Phase 1 of the terminal will have a total of seven STS cranes along a wharf that will be very close to 2500 feet long. The new APMT cranes will be capable of working super post panama vessels with 24 container rows across, a 52 meter lift height and a lift capacity that will allow the discharge and loading of loaded twin 40’ containers simultaneously. The facility will also feature an automated gate, an on-dock intermodal yard with two rail mounted gantry cranes and 22 automated yard stacking cranes

In connection with the development at the facility, RAM Spreaders recently announced that they were awarded a contract for a total of 49 crane attachments for the new Lazaro Cardenas facility. This includes ship to shore, yard and intermodal crane spreaders. In addition, APMT will employ RAM’s Singflex, a single hoist twin 40’ attachment that will handle either four 20’ or twin 40’ containers. Singflex is presently in operation in England, at London Gateway, where crane production when in use, has been increased significantly. All of the dockside cranes destined for the Lazaro Cardenas terminal have been fitted to handle the Singflex unit. RAM’s spreaders are controlled by ASi communications. The system simplifies the installation of electrical components on the cranes and provides efficient diagnostics. ASI simplifies the feed of data to the crane’s control system.

Depending upon how it is deployed, the RAM Singflex attachment produces significant improvements in a crane’s productivity. Shifting from Singflex to a standard spreader or vice versa takes less time than one loading cycle. RAM indicates that tandem utilization has increase production as much as 80% in many instances.

Lazaro Cardenas, is a port city with a population of 75,000, located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico in the southern part of the state of Michoacan. The expanded population, surrounding the city, is upwards to 163,000. The Port of Lazaro Cardenas is a deepwater port, handling containers, dry bulk and liquid cargoes. It also participates in the exporting of automobiles to both Asia and South America. In 2012 the port handled over 1.24m TEUs. Container volume for years 2013 and 2014 have dipped to below the 1m TEU mark, however, container count in November 2015 shows a trend to increase to over 1m TEU by the end of the year. The container count is expected to expand to over 2.2 million TEUs shortly after the opening of the APMT facility in late 2016.

The Port of Lazaro Cardenas has developed based upon some lofty assumptions, in an atmosphere of intense competition. The presence of the APMT investment confirms the importance of the Port and bolsters the confidence of the Port’s executives, especially under the shadow of other developments supported by the Mexican Government.

A proposal to build a separate port at Punta Colonet in Baja California has been on the books for some time. It could create a direct threat to Lazaro Cardenas’s plans. The government established its plan, banking on the congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that could potentially precipitate a shift of container cargo south of the U.S. border. Plans for Punta Colonet were based upon volumes resulting from the diversion of container carriers from the Southern California ports, especially for U.S. markets in Arizona, Nevada and San Diego.

The development of an industrial city at Puerto Colonet, including a Mega Port, was scheduled to go to bid in 2011 and although not dead, has been delayed due to the global economic down turn. In addition, the opening of the newly expanded Panama Canal may well ease some of the congestion at Southern California ports and eliminate the immediate need for Puerto Colonet. In addition to the seaport, the original plan for Puerto Colonet called for a major power plant, hotels, industrial zones, housing, and an airport.