ASME-Landmark:PACECO Container Crane


In 1956, the Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company developed the idea of shipping goods in intermodal containers—truck vans that detach from their carriage or chassis for stacking on ships or rail cars. This containerization concept drastically reduced the labor costs as well as the time required to unload and reload the trucks at either end of the route and reduced the number of ship-to-shore lifts for each truck load from as many as 20 small lifts to only two heavy lifts.

But as economical as containerization was, most ports in the 1950s were not equipped to handle the heavy containers except by mobile-type revolving cranes that, at best, were extremely inefficient. In July 1957, the Matson Navigation Company commissioned a study that determined that no existing crane on the market could handle the load. In 1958, Pacific Coast Engineering Company (PACECO) was awarded the contract to design the new crane.

Trusses, which were used by most manufacturers at that time, were replaced with all-welded box girders wherever possible. This resulted in a unique and extremely clean-looking A-frame configuration, for which PACECO later became famous. Each function was carefully analyzed and simplified to promote ease of access, operation, and maintenance.

These first high-speed, dockside container-handling cranes were put into service on January 7, 1959, in Alameda, California. They reduced ship turnaround time from three weeks to eighteen hours and became the model and set the standard for future designs worldwide. See ASME website for more information