Ship loaders and unloaders across the globe are continuing to upgrade their facilities with latest equipment offerings, according to suppliers who responded to World Grain’s annual survey of the world’s major ship loader and unloader manufacturers.

Overall, suppliers report orders for new ship loading and unloading facilities are holding steady or taking a slight dip. This was expected, one supplier noted, as there have been several years of continuous increases. It was anticipated that business would go back to a normal level, they said.

Some of the most active areas around the world include Eastern Europe, notably Ukraine and Romania, as well as the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Iran. Other areas of activity include Canada, Germany, France and China. Political and economic difficulties have led to a slowdown of work in South America.

Major issues remain dust prevention on ship loading, energy consumption and the reliability of ship unloading facilities. It’s not always easy to combine efficient operation with low dust emissions, one supplier noted, because there is no constant defined regulation. Some customers would rather save money on the investment rather than consider the advantages of efficiency and environmental issues. Reducing dust emissions provides for a better working environment and allows for a continuous operation, the supplier noted.

As customers look to load larger and larger vessels, the dust problem is increasing as well, and is starting to gain more attention. Customers may question the increasing cost for equipment that worked well in the past, but now has been updated. Suppliers said they need to explain what is now available in the market, and the new advantages. For example, a ship loader with the ability to cover the entire hatch opening means there is no need to install auxiliary equipment to push the grain into the hatch corners.

New technology

Ship loading and unloading equipment and service suppliers are responding to customers’ concerns and demands with an ever-improving range of offerings. Neuero, based in Melle, Germany, is offering a new way for customers to visualize their port project with software. The new port visualization software shows equipment operation coverage with a few clicks.

It can show a view of equipment with different ship sizes from barges to Cape size. Multiple pieces of equipment can be displayed and the movements simulated like traveling, boom slewing and luffing, horizontal and vertical telescoping. A simplified equipment sketch with the important dimensions makes it possible to visualize the operating range, Neuero said, simplifying the equipment decision-making process.

Neuero said it is continuously improving its equipment. For example, the turbo blowers on ship unloaders are equipped with temperature and vibration sensors for bearing monitoring. Also, the company is preparing a new generation of rotary belt airlocks with fast belt change and centralized belt regulation. The belt airlock avoids blockages, saving operation time.

Bühler said its loading arms with the kick system allow for access into the corners of a ship hatch. The loading arms have been heavily standardized now to provide maximum flexibility regarding application. As a result, a loading arm can be used as an off-the-shelve retrofit for existing grain loaders or newly built non-Bühler ship loaders. Every loading arm can have a spoon or Bühler RGLZ dust suppressor added.

VIGAN, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, has adapted its equipment to market trends through the decades. It has designed, manufactured and erected equipment of higher capacities. The NIV 600 pneumatic ship unloader, first designed in 2000, has now become the standard, representing on average 60% of NIV-type pneumatic ship unloaders sold by VIGAN over the last five years.

For the manufacture of even bigger machines, VIGAN added 2,000 square meters to its existing 10,000-square-meter facility in Nivelles, Belgium. A lifting capacity of up to 50 tonnes was added to the expanded factory for the assembly of larger equipment.

More expansion for Aqaba Grain Terminal

In recent years, the Aqaba, Jordan, port complex has undergone significant redevelopment and expansion as part of an overall strategic plan to develop the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) into a world-leading hub for business and leisure. The Aqaba New Port was relocated so that the previous port area could be turned into a mixed-use waterfront area with homes, hotels, a yacht marina and cruise terminal.

Work on the terminal is overseen by the Aqaba Development Corp. (ADC), the main development corporation for the zone, which was launched in 2004 by the government of Jordan and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA). The Aqaba New Port is a national infrastructure priority and critical to Jordan’s long-term economic growth.

A new grain terminal is part of Aqaba New Port and is located in the southeastern sector of the development, covering an area of about 30 hectares. It includes vertical storage silos, a bagging plant, truck loading facilities, offices and other support facilities, intake and outtake facilities, conveying systems connecting the storage facility with the marine facility and ship unloaders.

Based on a recent trade and traffic study by the Jordan Government Authority, expansion of the new grain terminal is needed, including more storage capacity and an additional ship loader/unloader facility. The project is intended to provide a minimum of 100,000 tonnes of extra storage capacity in concrete silos, doubling capacity to 200,000 tonnes and provide an extra intake and outtake line to enable loading and unloading of grains on the newly constructed second berth.

The terminal will be operational for ship loading and unloading 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Vessel sizes will range from mini bulk carriers up to Panamax size.

Bühler, based in Uzwil, Switzerland, provided Portalink 800/70 ship unloaders with capacities of 800 tph for ADC in 2015 and 2017, and now has been awarded the entire grain terminal expansion. The scope of its work includes a new ship loader/unloader model Portacombi 800/70 Rk with a capacity of 800 tph. It will provide loading and unloading on the same berth. Bühler also will provide all the related equipment for mechanical loading/unloading, aspiration, cleaning, weighing and automation control for the 28 new concrete silo bins.

Bolloré reduces dust

Bolloré Group recently invested in ship loading equipment to replace older systems at its ports in La Rochelle. The addition of the new Neuero 1,400 tph KIKO +DSH shiploader provided a substantial reduction in dust.

Bolloré manages three port terminals with a total floor space of 302,600 square meters at La Rochelle. It handles small bulk cargoes such as grain, fertilizers and cattle feed as well as forest products, industrial products and containers. In addition to the Bolloré project, Neuero recently commissioned installations in Canada, France, Finland and Ukraine.

A Flexiport F500 300-tph unloader for non-free flowing material was shipped in September to a fish farm in Scotland. The equipment, which will handle fish meals and grains, was assembled and dry tested in Rostock, Germany.

Calaca terminal adds ship unloaders

Calaca Harvest Terminal Inc. recently added two pneumatic grain ship unloaders to its facility in Calaca, Philippines, for the discharge of grain and soy meal from vessels up to 50,000 deadweight tonnage. The NIV 600 tph, 500 kW ship unloaders, supplied by VIGAN, have a boom length of 30 meters, calculated from the slewing center. The machines are mounted on a mobile self-propelled gantry on rails, with a rail span of 12 meters. The gantry is equipped with an 18-meter-long chain conveyor with two outlets and two chutes for the feeding of two wharf conveyors.

The unloaders are equipped with two electric motors of 250 kW each, with VIGAN’s two centrifugal four-stage turbo blowers with direct coupling between the turbo and motor axle.