As a nation whose populace obtains about 75% of its calories from wheat and other grains but cannot produce enough to meet demand, Algeria must invest in infrastructure to import those grains. According to recent Algerian Ministry of Agriculture figures, per capita cereal consumption has more than doubled in the past 50 years to 285 kg per capita.

Algeria consumes about 8 million tonnes of cereals per year, while its 10-year average annual wheat, barley and oat production is only 2.97 million.

The Office Algérien Interprofessionnel des Céréales (OAIC), which both imports and buys domestic grains, is the main supplier to domestic processors. A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report noted that OAIC supplies 100% of the public sector’s requirements and 60% of private processor requirements. On average, OAIC supplies 450,000 tonnes of bread wheat and 230,000 tonnes of durum per month. The vast majority of these grains enter the nation via 11 commercial sea ports.

In 2011, OAIC decided, after several years of investment freeze, to extend the unloading capacity in Algeria’s quays and launched a major tender for 12 pneumatic continuous shipunloaders (CSU) for seven ports: Algiers, Bejaïa, Djen Djen (Jijel), Skikda, Ghazaouet, Annaba and Mostaganem.

The tender was won by VIGAN Engineering S.A. “This major order confirms the VIGAN position in Algeria, which delivered its first gantry in 1970 and 45 years and 40 machines later, VIGAN is still present and even installed, a few years ago, a subsidiary in Algeria by creating VIGAN Algeria sarl in the Dar El Beida neighborhood of Algiers, Algeria with a permanent technical team,” Nicolas Dechamps, managing director of VIGAN Engineering S.A., told World Grain. He noted that the OAIC, based on its experience, preferred the pneumatic CSU’s mainly because they offer the fastest and most efficient hold cleaning operations, with reduced maintenance needs.

The 12 shipunloaders, each with a capacity of 300 tph, are mainly adapted for 30,000 DWT vessels, except for the three gantries for Djen Djen port, which were designed to unload Panamax vessels.

The pneumatic unloaders supplied by VIGAN have a round suction nozzle, which sucks the product into the hold, allowing maximum capacity in full heaps of grain with a minimum breakage.

The gantries are all equipped with electrical generators in case there is a power supply issue. Nine of the ship unloaders are self-propelled on rubber tires and adapted to load trucks, and in some cases quay conveyors.

“Regarding the three rail-mounted gantries, designed for Algiers, Mostaganem and Ghazaouet, they are also equipped with a weighing system that provides quick and accurate data regarding the discharged quantities,” Dechamps said.

“The gantries support all unloading equipment: the cabin with turbo-blowers, the unloading tower, electrical generator and the cable reels for power, and as we have just seen, in some cases a weighing system,” said Mohamed El Khattabi, sales director at VIGAN Engineering. “The unloaders are mounted on a slewing ring with a hydraulic motor offering a total angle of rotation of 270 degrees. It supports an automatic cleaning filter by compressed air injection, with the motor, airlock and the boom supporting the piping system.”

In October 2015, VIGAN supplied and erected the last of the 12 pieces of equipment ordered. VIGAN continues to work actively in Algeria, winning other bids in the country since the OAIC tender.