Automated Lubrication System Improves Container-Crane Efficiency


Belgium’s Port of Antwerp (“Antwerp”) is Europe’s second largest and the fourth largest in the world. Thousands upon thousands of ocean-going vessels call at this busy facility each year, and containers are a huge (and growing) component of its maritime traffic. As it is around any port, each hour saved in handling freight that moves through this one—even an hour spent maintaining freight-handling equipment—can be important to the bottom lines of the companies doing it. That includes MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company), one of the biggest players in the container-transport arena. MSC’s terminal operation in Antwerp is the site of a notable lubrication success story.  


Since SKF installed SKF ProFlex automated lubrication systems in the MSC Home Terminal at the Port of Antwerp, the customer has been able to reduce manual maintenance on its cranes by about 1900 hours annually. It previously spent, on average, about 90 hours per year/per crane to perform lubrication routines manually—which had to be done when the cranes weren’t in operation. With container traffic through Antwerp experiencing explosive growth, terminal personnel were coming up against ever-shorter maintenance windows for completing that work. 

According to Henrik Lange, SKF President Industrial Market, Strategic Industries, automating its lubrication process was an ideal solution for the MSC Home Terminal. The SKF ProFlex systems not only support crane availability and help reduce downtime, they have eliminated the safety risks that workers used to be exposed to when they conducted manual lubrication work on the cranes.

Solving the problem at the port
The SKF ProFlex system features a pump unit that delivers grease to a series of progressive feeders that can automatically provide a defined amount of lubricant for up to 150 lube points. 

The systems installed at the Port of Antwerp lubricate the cranes’ wheelbases, winches and trolleys—providing the exact amount of lubricant to over 60 points on each unit. Additionally, SKF fitted each of these ProFlex systems with control options on the pumps, distributors and feeders, thus allowing personnel to monitor units from the office (and help keep the cranes in optimal condition). 


The SKF ProFlex Systems on the MSC Home Terminal cranes lubricate the units’ wheelbases, winches and trolleys. They’ve not only helped increase uptime, they’ve eliminated safety risks that workers had previously been exposed to while performing manual lubrication work on the cranes.

Other applications
Capable of handling oil, semi-fluid grease and hard grease NLGL grades 000 to 2, SKF ProFlex systems are designed for small and medium-sized applications. Typical applications include printing equipment, construction machinery, industrial presses and wind turbines, among others.

Advantages include. . . 

  • Continuous delivery of lubricant during pump running time
  • Simple system blockage control
  • Easy system monitoring via series connection of metering pistons

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