Technical Profile: Ship Loading and Unloading Equipment

by Teresa Acklin
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   Brazil's agricultural product exports and imports have increased significantly in 1995 and 1996, and new port equipment installed by the private sector has enabled very high-performance handling of these products.

   Exports and imports in Brazil are handled through numerous ports. The port of Santos serves the southern part of Brazil and the principal main route of agriproduct exports on the Tiete-Parana waterway.

   But the counterflow of wheat and rice imports is increasing. Different factors explain this tendency, including:

   • a switch in agricultural production to more economically viable maize and soybeans as past heavy subsidies on wheat production have been reduced.

   • an increase in the consumption of wheat and rice as the poorer population attains a higher standard of living. Minimum wages in Sao Paulo have increased to U.S.$300 per month from U.S.$50.

   • the process of privatization, which has allowed the participation of private companies in wheat trading and imports. These activities previously were restricted to the government-owned Banco Do Brazil.

   • the port reform law, which established major provisions for private concessions and berth rental and created the competition needed to foster efficiency.

   In this environment, the Glencore company in 1996 made major investments in the port of Santos to accommodate wheat demand from the Brazilian flour milling industry. As a result, two Vigan NIV type pneumatic ship-unloaders are operating at full capacity unloading wheat at Santos.

   The two Vigan NIV 280 shipunloaders each achieve a maximum capacity of more than 300 tonnes per hour with 22.5 meter booms. The booms are hot dipped galvanized, with hydraulic lifting and slewing by remote control.

   Each gantry moving on rails is supported to limit the maximum load per wheel to 20 tonnes. The height under the gantry is seven meters, with two outlets to load wheat on trucks and one external outlet to feed the wharf conveyor.

   The Vigan NIV 280 shipunloader was selected by Glencore on the basis of proven technology, low maintenance and electric consumption and operational efficiency through the holds of the ship, from the beginning of the hold unloading to the cleaning phase. Short unloading and ship tie-up times again have been confirmed at the port of Santos.

   The Brazilian milling industry consumes around 9 million tonnes of wheat per year, of which 85% is now acquired overseas. This illustrates the importance of excellent port equipment. Glencore, in partnership with most mills, is supplying a constant flow of wheat to the flour mills year round.

   Glencore is responsible for all of the logistics of the wheat operation and is committed to supply the mills around the clock on a just-in-time basis. The viability of Vigan shipunloaders allows Glen-core to maintain minimum wheat stocks while delivering wheat to the mills on time.

   Contributed by suppliers, technical profiles feature new technology, products, specific applications or proprietary concepts. This material was prepared by Vigan Engineering S.A., Nivelles, Belgium.