Künz GmbH Austria / APM Terminals Netherlands:
Crane drives for the Port of Rotterdam

  • Container crane at the Port of Rotterdam

Drive solutions for rail-mounted container stacking cranes aid the transportation of heavy freight.

Europe's largest container port is continuing to grow. State-of-the-art terminals are coming into being. With robust industrial gear units in the hoists and high-performance helical-bevel gear units in the trolley gears and crane travel drives, SEW‑EURODRIVE provides the muscle power for 28 automated rail-mounted container stacking cranes.

The project at a glance

  • End customer: APM Terminals, Netherlands
  • Equipment manufacturer: KÜNZ GmbH, Hard, Austria
  • Location: Port of Rotterdam, Maasvlakte II terminal, Netherlands
  • Industry: Port logistics, crane technology
  • Application: Rail-mounted, automated container cranes (gantry cranes / stacking cranes)
Künz GmbH logo

Further information about Künz GmbH:

  • 100% family-owned business
  • Founded: 1932
  • Employees: 500
  • Sites: 5, of which 2 in Austria and others in Italy, Slovakia and the United States
  • Certified to ISO 9001‑2008
APM Terminals logo

Further information about APM Terminals:

  • Founded: In 2001 as an independent division of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group
  • Employees: Over 20 000
  • Sites: 74 port and terminal facilities in 40 countries worldwide
Blue-painted container cranes from APM Terminals
Rail-mounted container stacking cranes
  • What is needed are reliable, efficient and high-performance drive solutions for hoists, trolley travel drives and crane travel drives for fully automated, rail-mounted container cranes (gantry cranes).
  • Container cranes designed as double-girder cranes with a hoisting path of 18.1 meters, crane track width of 27.8 meters, crane track length of 380 meters and load bearing capacity of 41 metric tons at the spreader
  • High freight volume and throughput capacity
  • High traveling speeds (crane travel drive up to 270 meters per minute) and high traveling frequencies
  • Lifting speed up to 36 meters a minute with a full load
  • Customized drive solution based on standard X series industrial gear units

The muscle power for 28 of the automated container stacking cranes in the Maasvlakte II terminal comes from SEW‑EURODRIVE drive technology.

Blue rope pulley and blue industrial gear unit
Cable drum with hoist drive


  • Four hoist drives for each container crane: X series bevel-helical gear unit
  • In total, 112 specifically adapted drives
  • Type: X3KV200/HU/T
Blue crane travel drive with red helical-bevel gear units
Crane travel drive with helical-bevel gear units

Trolley travel drives

  • Four KA97 helical-bevel gear units for each container crane
  • In total, 112 helical-bevel gear units

Crane travel drives:

  • Thirteen KAZ107 helical-bevel gear units for each container crane
  • In total, 364 helical-bevel gear units
Port of Rotterdam
Port of Rotterdam with containers and blue cranes
  • Customized solution
  • Robust drive technology that can absorb high radial loads in the hoist
  • Reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) thanks to specific adaptation of industrial gear units
  • Simplified warehousing for spare parts
  • Fast implementation

Quote from Rudolf Flatz, project manager at Hans Künz GmbH

Decision confirmed

All our requirements were addressed quickly and attentively – that's what confirmed our decision to work with SEW‑EURODRIVE.


Quote from Johannes Bastigkeit, SEW‑EURODRIVE, Manager of Technical Office Dornbirn, Austria

Optimum collaboration

We were able to discuss the technical details with our SEW colleagues from Bruchsal and develop a solution quickly, allowing us to provide Künz with a customized drive solution based on the X series.


Impressions of the project

The project in detail

Drive technology for state-of-the-art container terminal

Rotterdam container port
Rotterdam container port, Maasvlakte II terminal
Rotterdam container port, Maasvlakte II terminal

The Port of Rotterdam is Europe's largest container port, the continent's transportation hub and the handling center for goods from all over the world. The "Maasvlakte" (English: "Maas level") industrial and port area was created in the 1960s as an artificial island south of the Maas estuary. It welcomed its first shipping almost a decade later, in 1973. After a further 35 years there was no longer enough space, and "Europe's smartest port" underwent further expansion. The operators extended Maasvlakte by 60 percent to around 6,000 hectares, thus marking the birth of Maasvlakte II.

The automated container terminal went into operation in spring 2015 and is to date the most advanced port of its kind from APM Terminals, one of the world's largest operators of port and terminal facilities. The company has 74 of these facilities in 40 countries on five continents and is considered to be the global leader in terms of geographical coverage.

At the heart of the innovative terminal are two rail-mounted intermodal cranes (rail-mounted gantry cranes – RMGs) and a total of 54 automated rail-mounted stacking cranes (automated rail-mounted gantry cranes – ARMGs). Containers are loaded from a ship by using STS (ship-to-shore) cranes, then transported to the buffer zone using free-moving automated container vehicles (Lift AGVs) and finally link up with the automated rail-mounted stacking cranes. These cranes take the containers from the AGVs and move them further toward the stacking zone.

The contract for designing and constructing the automated stacking cranes was awarded to the Austrian company Künz GmbH based in Hard, a town near Bregenz on Lake Constance. APM and Künz insisted on exceptionally reliable, efficient and high-performance components and systems for the drive technology. One key reason was because the Port of Rotterdam places strict requirements in terms of future-proofness and sustainability. Besides outstanding robustness and quality, SEW‑EURODRIVE was ultimately chosen for its readiness to quickly implement customer-specific modifications.

Twenty-eight of the automated rail-mounted gantry cranes are now fitted with gear units from SEW‑EURODRIVE. These cranes are container stacking cranes installed in the final two expansion phases from 2014 to 2017.

Industrial gear units as crane muscle

Blue industrial gear unit
X series bevel-helical industrial gear unit
X series bevel-helical industrial gear unit

Containers from around the world land at Maasvlakte II. Once they arrive, the automated container stacking cranes take over. The cranes are designed as double-girder bridges and cover a distance of almost 30 meters. They lift and transport their heavy freight with a load bearing capacity of 41 metric tons at the spreader.

X series industrial gear units provide the muscle for the hoist, the crane's strong arm. They move loads weighing several metric tons over a height of 18.1 meters. The X3KV200/HU/T bevel-helical gear units transfer a drive power of 2 × 170 kilowatt during this process – that is how much power is needed in order to move containers through the air at 36 meters a minute. A total of 112 of these industrial gear units are used in the 28 cranes.

Künz also opted for drive technology from SEW-EURODRIVE in the trolley travel drive, which moves containers horizontally. In each case, four KA97 helical-bevel gear units ensure the trolley accelerates to a maximum speed of 70 meters a minute. In total, Künz installed 112 of these gear units, each with a motor power rating of 11 kilowatts.

High-performance drives ensure stacking cranes keep moving reliably.

Blue crane travel drive with red helical-bevel gearmotors
Crane travel drive with helical-bevel gearmotors
Crane travel drive with helical-bevel gearmotors

The container stacking cranes move along the 380-meter-long rail-guided crane track at 270 meters a minute. To do this, the steel structures in the crane travel drive, which are several floors high, each need 13 KAZ107 helical-bevel gear units. The drive power of each gear unit is 37 kilowatts.

During operation there is a big difference between the mass moments of inertia in the powertrain and motor. Converting the resulting acceleration and deceleration torques is the major task for the drive solution. This solution consists of the impressive total of 364 helical-bevel gearmotors for all 28 cranes.

After the stacking cranes have delivered the containers to the stacking zone, transportation further afield in Europe continues by road, rail and inland waterways.

Customer-specific modifications cut TCO

Adjustments to the standard industrial gear units from the X series were a key part of the drive solution for APM Terminals. This customizing process covered each of the customer's specific needs and enabled us to cut the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for APM and Künz. For example, we configured the drives in such a way that Künz was able to install them both left and right of the hoist. This reduces the outlay for spare parts storage, as all the gear units in the warehouse are of the same design. To use the modified X gear units as spare parts, only minor work by the APM technicians is required.

Modifications work best when everyone involved communicates over short distances. This applies to both geographical distance and levels of expertise. In this case, our proximity to the customer was key to implementing the special requirements quickly. The SEW‑EURODRIVE Technical Office in Dornbirn on Lake Constance worked in perfect harmony with Künz's technical department. In close collaboration with the headquarters in Bruchsal, solutions emerged in no time at all that precisely reflect the needs of APM – and safeguard continued growth at the Port of Rotterdam.


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