Between the early 1980’s and into 1990, two transportation exhibitions held their first shows in the United States. Since that time a host of must attend, annual events, targeting members of the cargo handling industries, including bulk, intermodal and terminal operating, have developed throughout the World.

The first of these events in the U.S., the Intermodal Exhibition, started in Atlanta, Georgia and quickly developed as the place to be if you were involved in intermodal transportation. Today the show continues with the venue alternating between Long Beach, California and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One of the highlights of the earliest Intermodal Show was the magnitude of equipment brought in by railroads and container handling equipment manufacturers. These companies introduced new tools such as doublestack well cars and brought in heavy container handling lift trucks and even rubber tired gantry cranes, erected on site. Factors, especially cost, eventually brought this practice to an end, however, manufacturers of lift trucks, container chassis, yard tractors and containers continue to exhibit.

Not to be denied, the handlers of breakbulk cargo eventually received their place in the world of exhibitions and conferences with the first conference in 1990 also in Atlanta. 100 people attended this event and there were no exhibits. An early event was also held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the heart of the French Quarter and consisted of a conference and small exhibit area that was limited to the hotel hallway outside of the conference room. Few companies exhibited with brochures as their only handout. Today, the Breakbulk Show and Exhibition has grown in both attendance and exhibitions, moving to the Earnest B. Morrell Exhibition and Conference Center in New Orleans. Eventually the show alternated with Houston where it has settled over the last few years.

For the thousands of people that work the show for their companies, as well as those that wander the aisles, the present day Breakbulk Show offers just about everything that a breakbulk cargo handler or shipper could ask for. In fact, there is so much to see that attendees must pick and choose their area of concentration. Companies that exhibit have grown in numbers, 316 in 2016, but also many exhibits have increased in size and in many instances, sophistication. As an example, Wiggins Lift Company brought a heavy capacity forklift truck to the floor in the early 2000’s, quickly followed by competitors. Today, at least five other forklift companies bring in their heavy lift product.

This year, we moved from aisle to aisle with only the better part of three days to cover as much territory as possible, our attention was often diverted by the newer big truck exhibits including Taylor, Hyster and Konecranes. Our mission was to make contact with manufacturers of some of the more diverse implements used by breakbulk cargo handlers.

Liebherr’s booth is a good starting point and is always crowded with potential clients vying for a position to try their skill at the virtual reality crane operator’s console. Potential customers can try their hand at operating a mobile harbor crane. Liebherr’s success with its present line of mobile harbor cranes has catapulted the company to a leading position in North and South American sales. As reported in an earlier AJOT, Liebherr recently commissioned their LMH 800, the largest capacity mobile harbor crane to date. This crane is capable of handling heavy breakbulk, bulk and containers on vessels with higher and wider container stacks.

Moving through the aisles, we sought out some of the heavy equipment companies that have a somewhat lower profile for dockside cargo handling than Gottwald and Liebherr. Exhibitors Mantsinen and Sennebogen offer a wide variety of materials handling cranes for dockside as well as open storage use. There are a number of major similarities with these companies, both offer cranes using either track, rubber tired or rail mobility, a variety of boom configurations with hydraulic raise and extend capabilities and cab configurations that can be manipulated up or down or extended for optimum operator vantage points.

Their main headquarters is in Straubing, Germany with their USA base in Stanley, North Carolina. Sennebogen was founded in 1952 and has been manufacturing lifting and materials handling equipment for over sixty years. Their products have been utilized in lifting and handling of cargo and excavation either mounted on vessels, barges or working dockside and at inland handling sites. The evolution of the Sennebogen crane line has been primarily for material handling at ports and harbors, and backland support.

Sennebogen offers a variety of grabs and buckets to fit the customer’s requirements. Their hybrid technology provides up to 30% energy savings with electric-hydraulic drives. Sennebogen can offer a variety of boom and cab configurations, providing the operator with the greatest vantage point. The customer can opt for wheeled, crawler or rail gantry mobility.

Sennebogen cranes have been utilized to handle containers but specialize in commodities requiring clamshell grabs, buckets, grapples and multiple sling bag handling. A great deal of their work is with logging activities, multiple bags, bulk grains and scrap. They have a growing number of sales and service organization throughout the Americas.

Mantsinen is a Finnish company located in Ylamylly, Finland. They offer four “HybriLift” models for ports and inland cargo handling that are customized for each user. The cranes are capable of handling both heavy and light bulk commodities, as well as bagged cargo and containers, limited primarily by capacity or attachment. The largest model, the Mantsinen 200, can handle large steel coils and can be fitted with a container attachment.

In 2006, Mantsinen began testing and developing a Hybrid system. Beginning in 2008, they placed the 200 HybriLift into major production and operation. This model was followed by models 120, 160, 70 and 90. The program was completed in 2012. As reported by Mantsinen, “The unique system improves energy efficiency by up to 35%, and during each working cycle, energy is stored in a hydraulic accumulator system and again recovered to lift the main boom.” Materials handling systems are designed for bulk and general cargo handling. The system is said to allow for downsizing of engines and motors, providing lower emissions.

Mantsinen also manufactures its own attachments including clam buckets, orange peel grabs, tip to tip (round wood) grapples, lumber spreaders, big bag spreaders, pulp bale spreaders, coil clamps, pallet forks. In addition, Mantsinen offers customized attachments.

There are also a number of companies exhibiting that while not offering the dramatic effect of the larger equipment manufacturers have an impact on the many operating companies that attend the breakbulk show. Companies such as Anvil Attachments, Buffers USA, Greenfield Engineering, Novatech and Triton International Limited are but a few.

Novatech, a Danish company, has been designing and manufacturing specialty trailers for the cargo handling industry. Their most popular products in the USA are their roll trailers and goosenecks; however, they offer a number of other, specialty built trailers. One of their products that caught our eye was their Liquid Waste Trailer designed to transport leaking ISO tank and standard trailers, containing what could become an environmental problem and a costly cleanup. This trailer can be designed to handle up to 45’ containers with a maximum capacity of 60 tons.

Buffers USA was established in 1989, designing and manufacturing products for the cargo handling industry. With headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, Buffers has warehouses on the West, Gulf, Great Lakes and East Coasts of the USA. Their products include ship-lashing gear, security seals, chassis twist locks, and packaging and cargo handling products for warehouse operations.

Anvil Attachments, LLC is an award-winning manufacturer of bulk handling attachments, located in Louisiana. Their bulk grabs have been named the “Best Grabs” in 2012 and 2015. They are one of the oldest manufacturers of grabs, building their product around a standard parts design, allowing them to have the fastest lead-time in the industry. Their main products include their hydraulic and diesel hydraulic clamshells, a four-ton hydraulic scrap grapple, a radio controlled single line clamshell bucket and a four-rope cantilever bucket that can be sized to each customer’s special needs.

Greenfield Products, LLC, located in Hazel Crest, Illinois is a leader in custom fork truck attachments. Their products include masts and carriages for steel, concrete and pipe handling, strong backs, pallet platforms and windmill handling attachments. Greenfield also manufactures custom intermodal attachments such as container handling spreaders, chassis rotators, powered super sack spreaders and bombcarts. Greenfield’s newest product is the Deckhand, which is designed to handle barge covers remotely. Their container tilter allows containers to be tilted at 90 degrees for 100% fill of products such as coffee, scrap metal, coal and sugar.