Improving efficiency and limiting the environmental impact are an ongoing focus for the ship loading and unloading equipment suppliers who responded to World Grain’s annual survey.

Limiting dust emissions continues to remain a key issue for operators, along with safe, efficient and maintenance-free operations. Bedeschi said it helps customers by providing a tailor-made solution for each project, drawing on its experience in handling materials for industries that are different from grains and oilseeds.

For example, the company has more than 10 different loading systems to achieve the right balance between opposite goals (dust emissions, hold trimming, overall structure weight and more). Often, the final solution is much different from the first sketch.

“Also, erection is an important factor and potential issue in providing the best solution,” Bedeschi said. “More and more lately we have been delivering equipment fully erected and commissioned, therefore limiting quay unavailability and lead time.”

Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and North and South America are experiencing growth in demand for ship loading and unloading equipment, suppliers said. Along with the normal import and export flows of grain and oilseeds from producing to consuming areas, local political situations are boosting the need for new equipment in some countries, such as Ukraine.

At the same time, political turmoil is making it difficult for some clients to make major capital investments, one supplier said. A project may be planned, the design agreed upon but then an embargo is announced and the project is stopped. The time and money invested by the client and the supplier is lost.

“We are expecting to see an activity reduction this year compared to the above normal activity during the last few years,” a supplier said. “The uncertainty is a concern for everyone in that any time the market could crash.”

German oil miller adds VIGAN unloader

Power Oil Rostock GmbH, one of the largest oil mills in Germany and part of Getreide AG, recently completed installation of a ship unloader at the international port of Rostock to handle rapeseed.

The pneumatic NIV unloader, supplied by VIGAN, has a gantry on rails and electrical feeding for unloading vessels from 1,000 dwt up to Panamax. It has a capacity of 520 tph for the handling of rapeseed with density of 0.65 t/m³.

The gantry is equipped with a 10-meter-long chain conveyor with one outlet that includes a telescopic chute for the feeding of a wharf conveyor and two outlets for truck loading. The machine is equipped with two turbo groups, each composed of one frame on silent blocs with VIGAN centrifugal four-stage turbo blower and an electric motor of 200 kW, 400 volts, 50 Hz controlled by a frequency inverter.

The machine also is equipped with a 28.5-meter-long hot-dipped galvanized suction boom with gangway for services, with hydraulic luffing and slewing, as well as a winch on the boom for the lifting of a 6-tonne bulldozer.

VIGAN’s project management for Power Oil Rostock included planning, design, engineering, manufacturing and erection of the equipment, which has low operational costs and is in line with all safety and environmental requirements.

From the assembling of the gantry legs to the sand blasting and painting, passing through all the strategic components such as airlock, turbines, filter, conveyors, was designed and manufactured at VIGAN’s Belgian factory. All components were mounted and fully tested before shipment.

To minimize erection time and optimize the finishing quality, VIGAN pre-assembled the gantries in its workshop before dismantling them for transport.

The pneumatic ship unloader in Rostock was erected by VIGAN’s team in 10 days, from the storage and preparation (day 1) to the erection of the loading chutes (day 10).

Senalia added three ship loaders from Neuero to replace existing loaders at its Grand Courone terminal in France. Photo courtesy of Neuero.

New and improved solutions

Suppliers constantly are developing and improving loading and unloading equipment based on information they receive from their clients. Neuero is currently making advancements on its belt airlock. The current airlock primarily is used in the alumina handling unloader, but the company sees an advantage for it in grain unloading.

A foreign object in grain, such as wood, metal or a piece of bucket, can stop a chain or screw unloader as well as a pneumatic unloader, if it gets stuck in the airlock. With the belt airlock, it could pass through without stoppage of the unloader, Neuero said.

The company also is working to offer higher unloading capacities for its Flexiport unloader. Sales have increased for the unloader, which is being used to unload non-free flowing products such as meals, wood pellets and biomass.

Bedeschi is in the process of developing systems to handle non-free flowing material and to increase the unloading efficiency (the overall time needed to finish a complete ship). Feedback and support from customers is critical for the process, the company said. By October, it will have a test facility in operation to verify its elevating system with a wider range of materials.

“Operation’s automation and more advanced anti-collision systems are also a field we are exploring and working on,” Bedeschi said.

Bühler said its loading arms with the kick-system, which allow for optimized reach into the corners of a ship’s hatch, have been heavily standardized to provide maximum flexibility.

As a result, the loading arm can be used as an off-the-shelf retrofit for existing grain loaders or newly built non-Bühler ship loaders. Every loading arm comes with the possibility to add a spoon or the Bühler RGLZ dust suppressor.

Ship unloader - Bedeschi
A ship unloader from Bedeschi SpA was part of a €60 million, seven-year upgrade at Cereal Docks port facility in Venice, Italy. Photo courtesy of Bedeschi.

Cereal Docks adds ship unloader

As part of its €60 million investment over the last seven years at its Venice, Italy, port facility, Cereal Docks SpA added a ship unloader with a capacity of 800 tph for soybeans. The unloader is mobile on rails and located at the company’s oil extraction facility at Marghera Port.

Bedeschi SpA, based in Limena, Italy, erected and commissioned the machine, which was delivered directly to the quay. This eliminated the need of a dedicated erection area at the site, minimizing assembly and commissioning time and the amount of time the quay was unavailable for other uses.

The unloading system is based on the proven chain elevator technology, which allows for the lowest power consumption, gentle handling of the material, compliancy with the most stringent environmental regulation as well as simple and inexpensive maintenance, Bedeschi said. Due to the high abrasiveness of the material handled, all parts in contact with products are built of high-wear resistant material and designed to be easily replaced as needed.

Thanks to its reversible chain conveyors and a screw type swiveling loading arm, this system is also able to reload barges at 400 tph with byproduct (soy hulls) from the oil extraction plant it is serving.

Senalia replaces loaders

After seeing low dust emissions and the operating efficiency from a new ship loader installed at its Rouen terminal in France, Sénalia decided to replace three of its loaders at its Grand Couronne terminal.

The ship loaders, supplied by Neuero, were installed in December 2018 and started operations on Feb. 4, 2019. Neuero also supplied the ship loader for the Rouen terminal. With the deepening of the channel, Sénalia will be able to increase the loaded volume in Panamax vessels from the Grand Couronne site.

The three new loaders were shipped completely assembled at the same time on a special heavy lift ship.

Sénalia received an Environmental Protection award with this investment and has improved the port operating conditions.

Subic Bay Freeport Grain Terminal Services, Inc. added a ship unloader from Siwertell on an existing quay so it could start seeing benefits immediately.

Loader gives Subic immediate benefits

In anticipation of expected continuous demand from its customers, Subic Bay Freeport Grain Terminal Services, Inc. wanted to install a new ship loader. The major grain terminal and handler is located on the west coast of the island of Luzon in the Philippines and opens onto the South China Sea. It handles a third of all wheat imported into the Philippines.

When it was first ordered in 2015, Subic anticipated installing the unloader on a new planned quay. But Subic wanted to start seeing the benefits from the unloader immediately.

“So we worked together with Subic Grain to accommodate fixed loading points on the existing quay’s conveyor belt, and the unloader is also ready to switch to handling cement as soon as required,” said Cecilia Cederek, contract manager with Bruks Siwertell, which supplied the unloader. “This project demonstrated how flexible our installations can be and really showed a ‘can do’ spirit.”

The Siwertell ST 490-F unit has been installed on an existing quay and is being used for the gearless discharge of vessels up to 50,000 dwt. It initially will work alongside three low-capacity, rail-mounted grab bucket unloaders, as well as several smaller mobile pneumatic unloader units.

“I am confident that the new unloader will exceed expectations and ultimately replace the older equipment in the near future,” Cederek said. “The new unloader will offer rated capacities of 600 tph for grain, and in line with a future planned move, will comfortably be able to switch to handling cement at rates of 800 tph.”

Previously standing at around 1.2 million tonnes per year, the terminal’s grain intake has been increasing steadily.

“Subic Grain was able to accommodate significantly higher tonnage in 2018,” said Carlo Eduardo D. Aliño, vice-president of Subic Grain. “Our customers have all but guaranteed consistent growth of at least 5% per annum for the next five years, minimum. With this, we expect to be in touch for our next unloader(s) soon.”

The company opted for Siwertell technology for a number of reasons, Aliño said.

“For us, Siwertell’s best feature is its screw-type unloading technology, which limits both the need to maintain multiple moving parts and problems related to maintenance,” he said.

Kushiro added a Portalink ship unloader supplied by Bühler to its facility in Kokkaido, Japan. Photo courtesy of Bühler.

Kushiro overcomes logistical challenges

When having a new ship unloader installed on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, Kushiro faced some unique logistical challenges, including temperatures down to 20 below zero and the finger pier location with water on both sides.

With the installation of a new Portalink unloader, supplied by Bühler, the company’s capacity increased from 1,200 tph to 1,600 tph. The project, which was commissioned this February, was Bühler’s first for a state-owned facility in Japan.

Given the location, none of the assembly could be done onsite. Most of the ship unloader equipment was supplied from Europe, while the steel structure was manufactured in China. The ship unloader was pre-assembled in China into large transportable units and delivered to Kushiro n deck with a heavy-duty ship. From there, the Portalink was placed directly on the pier with the ship’s cranes and assembled.

The Portalink can unload product from ships for the loading of port silos as well as directly into smaller coastal vessels. It has a loading boom with a ship loading device. Additional features include a jib crane, which makes it possible to lift 15-ton bulldozers into the ship’s hatches without interrupting the unloading process. A special feature for the Japanese market are earthquake shock absorbers, cubes on the legs of the Portalink.

Kushiro liked the Bühler equipment because of its chain conveying technology and low energy consumption of nor more than 0.38 kWh/t.