Bigger & better

by Emily Wilson
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Ship loading and unloading technology continues to become more versatile, efficient and environmentally friendly, but these technological advances aren't the only reasons the ship loading and unloading manufacturers are staying so busy.

Bigger and better is the order of the day as the grain shipping industry is moving grain on bigger ships. With increasing vessel sizes, port facilities must also upgrade loading, unloading and grain conveying capacities — and often ship unloading manufacturers are requested to supply material handling or storage equipment in one complete, turnkey project. These new demands within the grain shipping industry are keeping ship loader and unloader manufacturers busy around the world.

POSITIVE FORECAST. "The future of the bulk material handling industry appears to be quite good," said Scott Neidigh, president of the Chicago, Illinois, U.S., Neuero office. Mr. Neidigh has noticed worldwide trends of increasing ship unloading/loading equipment capacities and the need for unloaders to handle a variety of products.

Port structures are also changing, he said. "As privatization of port activities occur throughout various countries in the world, we are finding that the customers are looking for one supplier to provide a complete turnkey installation," Mr. Neidigh said. "This installation often involves not only the ship or bulk unloading, but also includes the mechanical conveyors, storage, scales, bagging equipment as well as load-out facilities."

Neuero's most recent installation was a 500-tph Multiport unloader for Foremost Milling Co., in Manila, Philippines. The unloader is rail-mobile, equipped with a 25-meter boom and can lift a 5-tonne "Bob-cat" into the ship's hold for cleanup operations.

General Milling in the Philippines also has contracted Neuero to install a new 300-tph Multiport 2000 at a flour mill in Cebu, Philippines; the unloader will work alongside another Multiport unloader delivered to General Milling in Cebu in 1989. Along with the Multiport unloader, Neuero will also supply a GSD 210/150 portable pneumatic machine for general-purpose operation. Neuero recently shipped two GSD 210/160 portable pneumatic machines for operation in Romania, and the company continues to work on a number of projects in Portugal, Italy, Yemen, China and Sudan for ship loading and unloading of cereal grains.

MODULAR ENHANCEMENTS. The Port of Hamriyah, near Sharjah, United Arab Emarites, is a new port capable of receiving cape-size vessels. Throughout the past decade, the United Arab Emirates government has attempted to meet the nutritional needs of an increasingly higher-paid and more health-conscious population. Flour mills and milling has increased, creating more demand for grain and grain handling equipment. The Port of Hamriyah, built in 1999, was designed with a 14-meter-deep harbor and for easy future expansions to double the existing storage and unloading capacities.

Recently, the International Foodstuffs Company, Sharjah, constructed a new 83,000-tonne capacity terminal at the Hamriyah port. The company selected two Buhler Portalink 600/80 unloaders — similar to the 300-tph Portalino that Buhler installed at International Foodstuffs' terminal at the nearby Sharjah port six years ago.

Buhler, based in Uzwil, Switzerland, previously customized each ship unloader order, but now creates standardized models to service 80% of the market. Buhler's Port-alino unloader was used as a model for the Portalink 600/80, designed to unloaded Panamax vessels at 50,000 to 79,000 dwt, and the Port-alink 800/80, designed to unload cape-size vessels above 80,000 dwt.

Buhler can still customize orders, however. For example, International Foodstuffs requested 600-tph unloaders for use on cape-size vessels. To meet that requirement, Buhler increased the sizing of the support structure to ease unloading of cape-size bulk carriers up to 120,000 dwt by constructing a boom that is five meters longer and a central section that is five meters taller than the regular Portalink 600/80. This support structure is the standard platform for the Portalink 800/80 with 800-tph capacity.

"This modularization of the range of unloader types enables Buhler to offer the same technology and same quality at significantly lower cost," the company said. "By optimizing the design using state-of-the-art calculation methods, it also has been possible to reduce the current unloader's weight by 30% while maintaining the throughput at the same level. Thanks to the lower resulting pier and rail loadings, unloaders offering a higher throughput can be applied on existing pier infrastructures without requiring expensive reconstruction."

Buhler also supplied the material storage and handling equipment for the terminal. Because International Foodstuffs' mill is not located at the same site, the port terminal is currently designed as a transfer station. Unloaded material is placed into intermediate storage consisting of ten 7,350-tonne-capacity steel bins and three 3,360-tonne-capacity steel bins. Before the material is weighed on a receiving scale, it is screened by drum sieves and magnetic separators. The storage bins are loaded at a throughput rate of 600 tph by belt and bucket elevators and chain conveyors, while an aspiration system keeps all the equipment dust-free. Material discharges from the flat-bottom bins via chain conveyors and bucket elevators at 400 tph. The electrical and mechanical installations were completed within six months.

NECESSARY IMPROVEMENTS. With 25 years of experience in pneumatic handling equipment, Chris-tianson Systems, Inc., Blomkest, Minnesota, U.S., has been trying to accommodate some of the new customer demands.

"The bulk handling industry has been demanding lower investment costs, shorter lead times, more versatile, flexible equipment and easier, less expensive startup, operation and maintenance," said Jen Ehresmann, Christianson's marketing director.

In response, Christianson Systems improved its Vac-U-Vator bulk material conveyor line to be more economical with 120-tph capacity, reduced lead-time, and delivery within 8 to 12 weeks from ordering. Because customers are requiring universal solutions for their ship unloading and bulk transfer needs, Ms. Ehresmann said, the Vac-U-Vator can now be used to move dustier products, such as meals. Christianson fully assembles and pre-tests the equipment at the factory to troubleshoot any problems and reduce installation time and cost.

Last year, Christianson shipped several ship unloaders to Egypt, Venezuela, Israel and Turkey, Ms. Ehresmann said.

A RESCUE MISSION. After a fire devastated the Skånska Lant-männen grain terminal in Helsing-borg, Sweden, in July 1999, BMH Marine AB rebuilt the terminal. On that July day, it took only a few hours for the fire to destroy the outloading station, a 340-meter belt conveying system and its gallery. The fire quickly spread to and destroyed the rail travelling ship loader, leaving only its gantry structure.

Skånska Lantmännen, owned and operated by the farmers co-op of southern Sweden, located its entire export and domestic sea transfer at the Helsingborg terminal, which had an annual throughput of 400,000 tonnes of grain and urgently needed restored equipment.

The company quickly surveyed the damage and issued a tender, requiring turn-key delivery and removal of the destroyed equipment. BMH Marine, located in Bjuv, Sweden — only 20 meters from Helsingborg — was selected for the reconstruction of the conveyors and ship loader in October 1999.

BMH immediately began manufacturing a new ship loader and dismantling all damaged parts of the destroyed ship loader. After three months, BMH began erection of Skånska Lantmännen's new 1,000-tph, rail-travelling gantry loader for ships up to 60,000 dwt. BMH also installed special loading bellows, new travelling motors with a frequency converter and electrical control. After successful testing, the outloading station resumed operation in March 2000.

After removing the damaged belt conveyors and gallery, BMH re-conditioned the damaged support structure by manufacturing new enclosed belt conveyors and gallery, erecting them on existing supports and installing electrical control, fire detection and fire-fighting systems. BMH Kellve, the belt conveyor specialist within BMH Technologies, supplied the conveyors and galleries.

At the terminal, grain is fed from the storage silos via three discharge chutes onto the conveying belts. The belt conveying system comprises two fixed belts and one reversible, movable shuttle belt with outlet chutes at both ends. From either end of the shuttle belt, the grain is conveyed to the telescopic belt conveyors on the loader, and after travelling through the loading bellows, it is dropped into the ship's hold. In addition to the ship loading operation, the shuttle conveyor can be used for transferring grain between the storage silos.

The reconstruction of the outloading station at Skånska Lantmännen was a significant improvement over the original design, BMH said. The special shuttle belt arrangement has made loading possible along the whole travelling length without interruption in the operation zones, and grain movement is now synchronized between loader and shuttle conveyor. There is no fixed connection between the loader and the shuttle conveyor, and thus no need for manual connecting or disconnecting when alternating between the two shuttle outlets. BMH also eliminated all obstructions beyond the quay edge when the loader is parked to eliminate the risk of collision with ships during mooring.

The ship loading operation also can be visually monitored from a central control room via site-mounted video cameras. The same monitoring can also be established at BMH Marine's offices with a telephone modem; this feature enables remote fault-finding assistance from a BMH specialist in case of any on-site problem. Concerned with producing environmentally-friendly equipment, BMH Marine supplied Skånska Lantmännen with a practically dust-free loading operation.

BMH Marine has also recently supplied ship loaders to Turkey, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brazil, the Philippines, Greece and Croatia.

GLOBALLY ACTIVE. Specializing in pneumatic ship unloaders with capacities from 50 to 1,000 tph, Sangati Berga S.p.A., Padova, Italy — now part of the GBS Group — has worked on several projects for ship loaders and unloaders.

For AJWA Group for Food Industries in the Islamic Port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Sangati supplied two mechanical tire-mounted Transmec 400/100 ship unloaders designed to unload ships up to 100,000 dwt at a capacity of 400 tph. In the Port of Gdynia, Poland, Sangati supplied Portowy Zaklad Zaopatrzenia Spolka with a combined ship loader/unloader, the Transmec C-400, and with electromechanical equipment for existing flat storage. The Transmec C-400 delivered to Portowy Zaklad can load and unload vessels up to 10,000 dwt at a capacity of 400 tph for wheat and 300 tph for soybean meal.

Sangati also is working with Padova, Italy-based Golfetto S.p.A., — also a part of the GBS Group — on a refurbishment of Grandi Molini Italiani at the Port of Livorno, Italy. Golfetto will upgrade the flour mill to 500-tonnes-per-day capacity and Sangati will refurbish storage and handling equipment, supplying a new mechanical Transmec 600, rail-mounted ship unloader capable to unload vessels up to 50,000 dwt at 600 tph. Commissioning of the entire plant will be early next year, Sangati said.

In recent years, Sangati has installed a variety of its Transmec, Transload and Translift mechanical and pneumatic loaders and unloaders, ranging from 100 tph to 1,400 tph, as well as grain handling systems at facilities in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

The mechanical Transmec units and the pneumatic Translift models are available stationary, on rail or on tires. Sangati's Transload ship loaders, available on rails or stationary, can be equipped with belt or chain conveyors.

SUPER NEW UNLOADER. Vigan Engineering S.A., Nivelles, Belgium, unveiled its newest ship unloader, the Super 2000, at the A.O.M. Middle East/East Africa district meeting, Oct. 9-11 in Antalya, Turkey. Presented at Vigan's booth at the show, the mobile Super 2000 is already available and currently in use at the Cairo Three facility in Alexandria, Egypt. Vigan said Cairo Three is pleased with the new unloader's performance, and the facility has already ordered two more unloaders to be delivered at the end of the year.

Vigan, a world-wide manufacturer of port equipment for loading, unloading and conveying systems for bulk ship cargoes, including grain and flour, is active in more than 87 world markets.

In response to the earthquake that devastated Taiwan, Vigan is currently delivering a ship loader for vessels up to 15,000 dwt with 200-tph soybean meal unloading capacity. The ship loader will be in operation at the end of the year.

Recently, Vigan delivered 33 mobile units to cereal co-operatives in Algeria; 45 mobile units to the Port of Basrah in Iraq for the discharge of grain under the United Nations program; four ship unloaders to the ports of Misurata, Benghazi and Tripoli in Libya; four mobile units to ports in Turkey to unload grain vessels; six mobile units to Unigrain in Alexandria, Egypt; and commissions were received for three mobile machines for the Port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and one mobile machine for the Port of Batangas, the Philippines. Vigan had also received and filled orders from Brazil, China, Poland and Nigeria.

"By these investments, customers are prepared to succeed in a future of tougher competition," said Lucian Beauduin, president of Vigan.