Buhler capitalizes on China's grain modernization

by Emily Wilson
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UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — Buhler AG has been a major supplier of ship unloading equipment to China in the past decade as that country modernizes its grain storage, handling and transportation infrastructure.

Most recently, Buhler supplied two Portalink HL-SKT shipunloaders to the northern port terminal of Xizui, near the city of Dalian in the Liaoning Province. The Xizui terminal will have a total storage capacity of over 1 million tonnes when complete, making it what many consider to be the world's largest grain port terminal (see World Grain, April 2000).

The shipunloaders were designed to unload wheat at 1,000 tph from 80,000-dwt carriers, Buhler said. The steelwork for the unloaders was manufactured in Dalian and transported to Xizui by barge in several preassembled units.

The tenders for the unloaders were submitted in July 1997 and the contract was awarded to Buhler in May 1999. Both unloaders should be operating by early June, Buhler said.

In the past decade, Buhler also has installed shipunloading equipment at Shanghai and Ningbo, China. The Shanghai project in 1993 included two Portalink HL-SKT ship unloaders with a total capacity of 2,300 tph for unloading bulk carriers up to 80,000 dwt. The steel for the unloading structure was manufactured in a Shanghai shipyard; each unloader weighs 480 tonnes and is 34 meters tall. The Shanghai structure is the largest single machine ever to have been designed and constructed by Buhler, a company spokesperson said.

Three years later, Buhler installed unload-ers at a vegetable oil refinery in the Ningbo Zhejiang Province, 180 kilometers south of Shanghai. The equipment included a mechanical Portalink unloader with a throughput of 1,200 tph and a pneumatic Portalift unloader with a throughput of 250 tonnes of wheat and oilseeds per hour as well as 29 chain conveyors and two cleaning machines for the adjacent grain elevator. Operation at the Ningbo facility began in June 1999.

The total shipunloading capacity of 5,570 tph at the three Chinese grain facilities illustrates Buhler's leading position as a foreign supplier of grain shipunloaders to China, the company spokesperson said.

Buhler has also commissioned more than 70 flour mills in China.