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Massive electric forklifts get to work at the Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles is getting closer to reaching its goal of zero emission operations, deploying five electric top handlers each capable of grabbing 100,000 lb. shipping containers and stacking them up to six high.

Visibly similar to forklifts, top handlers grab containers from the top instead of lifting from the bottom. The use an overhead boom to load heavy shipping containers onto truck trailers and train cars, unloading them, and stacking them on terminals between pickups and deliveries. And, after piloting a pair of prototypes back in 2020, Yusen Terminals has picked up the first five production units and put them to work at the Port of Los Angeles.

“These all-electric cargo top handlers are the culmination of years of rigorous, real-world prototype testing and development here at our port,” said the Port of Los Angeles’ Executive Director, Gene Seroka. “I commend Yusen Terminals for its vision and leadership. Our collective commitment to pursuing this technology has paid off, helping prove this equipment’s commercial viability.”

Each of the Taylor Machine Works-built top loaders pack an enormous, 1 MW battery (!?) designed to operate for up to 18 hours between charges. Taylor says that’s enough for each 650V all-electric drivetrain to two-full shifts to cover back-to-back shifts moving hundreds of tons of materials, then be ready to go again after a five-hour session with a 180 kW DC fast charger.

Each top handler has a data logger for tracking hours of operation, charging frequency, energy usage and other performance indicators. Additionally, drivers and mechanics are providing input on the maneuverability, noise level and safety of the equipment.

“Yusen Terminals is proud of our partnership with Taylor Machine Works resulting in these first five commercially available EV top handlers being put into production at our Port of Los Angeles facility,” said Alan McCorkle, President and CEO of Yusen Terminals. “It is a major first step in our journey to zero emissions.”

Port of LA has appliedfor a $412 million EPA grant help support the deployment of 424 pieces of ZEV cargo handling equipment and 250 ZEV drayage trucks. If they get it, the EPA million grant would be matched with an additional $233 million by the Port and its private sector partners, and result in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by nearly 41,500 tons each year.

Electrek’s Take

The Port of Los Angeles, along with the Port of Long Beach, are leading the charge (sorry) for heavy equipment electrification – and their success stories can and will reverberate throughout the shipping and logistics industries.

Hopefully that alone will be enough to accelerate their electrification plans. At the very least, it will show them that future (and current) legislation mandating zero emission vehicles won’t be the end of life as the industry as they know it.

That said, a full MWh battery is bananas. In-road charging and grid connected material handlers make a ton more sense to me, and would enable the same amount of work to get done with a significantly lower carbon cost. That’s my take, anyway – I’d love to hear yours in the comments.

SOURCE | IMAGES: Port of Los Angeles.

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Avatar for Jo Borrás Jo Borrás

I’ve been in and around the auto industry since the 90s, and have written for a number of well-known outlets like CleanTechnica, the Truth About Cars, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can catch me on The Heavy Equipment Podcast with Mike Switzer, the AutoHub Show with Ian and Jeff, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

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