Port of Houston Authority's new steel giants to raise Texas exportsPort of Houston Authority's new steel giants to raise Texas exportshttps://www.recenter.tamu.edu/news/newstalk-texas/?Item=110902015-11-17T06:00:00Z2015-11-17T15:00:00Z

​​LA PORTE - A pair of cranes, each the height of a 30-story building, now reach over the Houston Ship Channel.The steel giants became the largest container cranes in operation in the U.S. because they can move containers on and off ships faster than any existing ones at Barbours Court.

They play a key role in helping the Port Authority gear up for more business in anticipation of larger containerships set to arrive with the opening of the Panama Canal's new, wider lane next year.

For even as the oil slump threatens jobs across the Houston region, the Port Authority is on track to move a record number of containers this year, the equivalent of 2 million 20-foot-long containers.

By 2017 a boom in plastic production in the region is expected to accelerate traffic further.

The new cranes, which arrived in May from South Korea, are part of a set of four that cost $50 million. They dwarf the other 12 cranes along the dock.

They extend 22 containers wide to load and unload ships, compared to the 13 container-wide reach of the older cranes.

The Port Authority estimated the cranes would increase productivity by about 15 percent compared to the older cranes on the dock.

On average the new cranes will move 38 containers per hour, though their pace could exceed 50 per hour. They are one-step in a broader plan by the Port Authority to prepare for more container traffic and make Houston an attractive destination for shippers. 

The Houston area is the number one exporting region in the country, and in 2014, $92 billion worth of exports moved through the Houston port.

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