This opportunity relates to the cranes used in loading and unloading freight and its transfer between modes. The efficiency is gained via the capture and storage of energy that would otherwise be lost during the lowering of containers, and the re-use of this energy when lifting. The principle is similar to that seen in regenerative braking systems on hybrid and electric vehicles.

Application relevance

There is a need to ensure that cranes have the flexibility to cater for the variety of container sizes found at Australian rail yards.

While the concept of the opportunity is sound, there are currently no examples of this technology being widely implemented as it is just being commercialised.

Potential benefits

No case studies have been identified where fuel savings were able to be demonstrated.

Key implementation considerations

Performance uncertainty exists due to a lack of experience with the technology.

Examples of implementation

Progressive Railroading media release 

This media release (opens in a new page) describes the expected benefits of regenerative cranes to be used at the Northwest Ohio Terminal Facility. These cranes are recent technology developed by Hans Kuenz GmbH. The cranes use electric motors to store the energy from crane, trolley and hoist decelerations so that energy savings can be achieved when transferring cargo containers between trains and trucks (Progressive Railroading 2010).  

For the full report, see Fuel for Thought – Identifying potential energy efficiency opportunities in the Australian road and rail sectors (opens in a new window) PDF 1.5 MB.