• More customer-friendly solutions with functional loading systems
  • Lighter, more environmentally friendly, ergonomic, and sustainable solutions
  • Material optimization brings savings in material costs
  • Building products gets faster, since there are less parts in them
  • Faster product development cycles and less need for physical prototypes


MacGregor develops cargo processing solutions for challenging maritime circumstances. The company’s roots are in England. MacGregor was moved under Cargotec ownership in 2005 together with Hiab and Kalmar. Cargotec’s leading cargo processing solutions increase intelligence in cargo streams and make day-to-day operations more fluent. Cargotec employs over 11 000 workers, about 2 000 of them works for MacGregor in 32 different countries. One of MacGregor’s main product development units for merchant vessels is located at Kaarina, Finland, where vessel cargo hatches and container locking systems among other things are developed. The company wanted to improve product operability, safety, and cost-efficiency in high-volume components.



MacGregor has two different divisions on the merchant vessel department; RoRo division, which focuses on RoRo vessel cargo processing systems; and Cargo Handling division of which the Kaarina unit in Finland is part of. The unit in Kaarina currently develops products for container attachment as well as lashing systems among other things. MacGregor’s product development in Kaarina has from 2008 onward used SOLIDWORKS Simulation tool in optimizing products, and gained substantial benefits with it.

Perttu Jokinen, Technical Manager (Lashings) opens up in detail on how MacGregor’s lashing systems work: ”The work done in this unit aims for the best possible container pile. When a cargo ship is being loaded, containers are put on top of each other so that the ship’s cargo will hold as many containers as possible. In the biggest of the ships, there can be as many as 11 containers on top of each other on the deck, and the same number in the cargo hold. There are four twist locks below each container on the deck that bind the containers into each other. The lowest of the locks binds the container pile onto the ship. The containers are supported by turnbuckles and lashing poles so they won’t twist in place. This combination is attached into a task-specific place on the container corner. Most models of the locks used between the containers are semiautomatic; in the port, the locks are installed onto the bottom of a container, and when the container is lowered down onto the ship on top of another container, the locking mechanism activates by itself. When the cargo is being unloaded, each lock is opened manually and the container is free to be lifted up. One of these locks weighs 5 – 7 kilograms. The locks are tested by a categorizing facility with a 50 ton pull load that is twice the force of maximum usage load. Moreover, lock must withstand huge press and cut forces. These lashing products we have developed with SOLIDWORKS. With our cargo systems, we can aim for the best possible heights for container piles and the levelness of container pile weight distribution. The higher the lashing pole is attached in a container pile, the higher we can place the heavier containers. This will enable our clients to have more freedom in planning the container piles in comparison to having only lighter or even empty containers on the top layers.”

MacGregor twistlock from two different directions.

Lighter solutions

Juhana Östberg, the Chief Designer of the Product Development department, has been working in the product development for MacGregor already from 2008. He says: ”We ended choosing SOLIDWORKS, because the software was easy to use and the product portfolio is extensive. Moreover, our local vendor PLM Group’s support has been important: The support service, personnel training and expert services have been an immense help for our company.”

In developing lashing products, MacGregor has utilized SOLIDWORKS Simulation. With it, they have been able to optimize products to be more cost-efficient without compromising their safety. Roni Jukakoski, the Vice President (Cargo Handling Division, Supply Chain & QA) explicates: ”The greatest benefit from SOLIDWORKS is that we are able to test out different choices with the simulation tools before making any physical prototypes. The results of the simulation are verified with physical prototypes. After this, the results are presented for supervisors or the management, and SOLIDWORKS makes it easier to explain those results in detail. The project planning has used another CAD system, but we have replaced it with SOLIDWORKS since SOLIDWORKS has integrated design automation programs. Together with the main model approach they save substantial amounts of work time in project planning.”

Juhana continues: ”We use various simulation tools, mainly non-linear and static counting. Moreover, we analyse exhaustion as well as vibrations, movements, and currents. With the help of simulation tools, we have improved product ergonomics and design, and optimized mechanisms.”

Some of the most concrete examples of the benefits the SOLIDWORKS Simulation has presented are the changes in the terminal stackers. Perttu explicates: ”Half of the product price comes from material. The terminal stacker, which is installed between the containers in the cargo hold, was optimized, and we could bring its weight down 42 percent. Furthermore, the number of parts came down from six to two. We accomplished making a product that does not need greasing so it’s basically maintenance-free for the client. In optimizing a certain container lock, we could take 27 percent of its weight off and diminish parts by third. My third example is a flat rack for lashing products. When the ship arrives at the port, this rack is taken out of the ship first. After that, the rest of the containers are unloaded, and the locks or the terminal stackers on the containers are put into the flat rack to wait for the next cargo. The flat rack previously weighed 4,5 tons; with the help of the simulation the weight was brought down to 2,5 tons.”

terminal stacker_macgregor_plmgroup

”Materials used in the products have been optimized so that we can use as many of the same materials in the products as possible. This way the material costs stay low. We have also optimized material strengths so the product will withstand the required forces in the tests. We have also optimized designs with SOLIDWORKS Simulation. The product has less material yet with a more sensible placement, and we have succeeded in lowering substantially the needed number of parts in the product.

Moreover, with a virtual prototyping, the product development cycles have become faster; sustainability and operability are ensured already in an earlier phase; and the number of prototypes has declined. 3D printing is also utilized as often as possible: For instance, plastic 1:1-size models of the newest container locks and terminal stackers were printed out before the actual steel prototypes. This helps to get a better understanding of the product under development, yet of course the weight of the plastic print is somewhat different than the final metallic product,” says Juhana.

Perttu Jokinen, Roni Jukakoski and Juhana Östberg.

Perttu continues: ”The changes that are related to material and parts in an individual lock do not seem enormous. But when one cargo ship carries about 40.000 locks and the weight of each locks is reduced by 1.5 kg, the entire ship leaves the harbor as 60 tons lighter as before. In addition, less fuel is used when the ship becomes lighter. The average use of a ship is 25-30 years, therefore the savings become massive.” Juhana adds: “In steel manufacturing, one ton of pure steel corresponds two tons of carbon dioxide, according to SSAB. This way, reducing the ships’ total weight is also seen good for the environment.”

The importance of product safety in this field cannot be highlighted enough. Roni says: ”Balancing the quality of our products, that is the operability, safety and cost-efficiency, is our number one priority. All the components used in making MacGregor products must be highly cost-efficient, yet quality is not to be compromised. Containers must not fall into the ocean, nor can the lashing products cause danger for their users. According to our calculations, there is at least one MacGregor device in every other seaborne vessel at this very moment. With the help of well-developed lashing systems and components, one ship can carry over 20 000 containers nowadays. Cargo sizes have grown substantially after I’ve moved in to this field, and the competition in this line of work has always been tough. To ensure our cost-efficiency and ability to compete, we constantly keep on thinking how to digitalize our value system and automatize unnecessary work phases. The unit at Kaarina is a centre of know-how, because most of the development work for cargo processing solutions takes place here.”

Products: SOLIDWORKS Simulation software

Industries: Transportation