After holding steady from 2014 to 2015, orders have increased this year, particularly for high capacity ship loaders and unloaders. Equipment with low-power consumption and effective operating and efficiency rates, as well as reduced maintenance, are attractive to grain loading companies, one supplier noted.
However, turmoil in the world is affecting existing trade routes, and through that, the investments. Ukraine, a major exporter of wheat for years, is struggling to keep the wheat shipments flowing. In response, other parties are taking advantage of this and using it as an opportunity to increase their business, a supplier noted.
Some of the most active areas for new equipment are the growing import and export areas such as South America and greater Asia, where facilities are needed to accommodate increased grain production. Brazil, in particular, is investing in inland transportation with new rail lines and export terminals. This is decreasing the nation’s logistics costs and increasing its competitiveness.
Asia, especially China, is increasing its global grain needs with more imports throughout the year, requiring more capacity and storage. South Africa is having a very dry season and needs to import about 10 million tonnes of additional corn (maize) for cattle. Other active regions include the Middle East, and Western and Eastern Europe. Business in Iran is growing, as customers look to replace older installations and invest in new, modern equipment, one supplier said.
Environmental issues are a major concern and a requirement in most projects. In the past, the initial cost determined the purchase decision, one supplier noted, but now customers are more concerned with ease of operation and avoiding dust pollution.
In many cases, customers would prefer giving the complete project to one main contractor because it’s easier to control and manage the project. However, this does not always result in the best technical solution, one supplier said. Splitting the project so companies that specialize in one area can give the best technical solution might be a better choice. Additionally, customers should keep in mind that low-cost equipment often comes with higher maintenance costs.
Top concerns for grain handlers at loading and unloading facilities are the costs and uptime of the plant. In response, Bühler, based in Uzwil, Switzerland, developed the Portalink and Portaload. The Portalink has lower operating costs due to its low power consumption and high efficiency, the company said.
The stationary version is based on a tower principle with three to four towers, each of which has a loading spout. It offers high capacity, efficient loading with spouts up to 3,000 tph, Bühler said.
Bühler recently did a complete revision of its mobile Portaload, taking into consideration market and customer feedback as well as internal knowledge. The mobile version may be used for new or existing births on rail or tires. Bühler said it thoroughly assessed the workflow of the loading procedure. Based on the assessment, it determined the functions needed for the most efficient loading process include driving, turning and luffing. With these three commands, the operator is able to have full cover of the vessel and load according to the loading plan.
Product flow through the Portaload has a specific route so there is a steady wear pattern throughout the loader and transfer elements. Elements that are directly impacted by the product either have been engineered so that the impact of the product is reduced or special heavy duty wear plating is installed.
To minimize the impact of the loading sequence on the product, care was taken to reduce falling heights where possible, reduce the product speed and enclose the product flow where required, Bühler said.
Neuero Industries, based in Melle, Germany, is launching a new unloader series for smaller ships. The concept is to be compact with fast installation and high working range coverage. The SmartPort prototype already is being tested, Neuero said. The system may be stationary or mobile, and capacities range from 200 tph to 400 tph, although higher capacities are possible.
For unloading, Neuero offers a series of equipment with 300-, 400-, 600- and 800-tph capacities with respective components like blowers, winches, airlocks and filters. New traveling gantry on rubber tires was developed to facilitate installation and maintenance. Also, customers may choose from a 3-tonne to 15-tonne auxiliary payloader winch, on rubber, on rails or stationary. Two or three truck outlets are available for efficient truck logistics.
Neuero’s KIKO system with a dust suppression head is one solution for addressing environmental concerns. With low dust emissions, the operation is easy to follow and saves surrounding equipment and people from excessive dust exposure, the company said.
Improvements for Djibouti port
Africa is an active area for new port projects, with Port De Djibouti S.A. (PDSA) building the Port of Doraleh, a new multi-purpose facility to improve upon the existing Djibouti port. VIGAN was awarded the turnkey project for the new grain and fertilizer terminal at the Port of Doraleh, largely due to the successful operations of the SDTV terminal in Djibouti. The SDTV terminal was built entirely by VIGAN, based in Nivelles, Belgium, and has been successfully unloading more than 2 million tonnes per year of grain and fertilizer since commissioning in 2009.
The Port of Djibouti is located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, at the intersection of major international shipping lines connecting Asia, Africa and Europe. The Port of Djibouti is a minimal deviation from the principal East-West trade route and provides a secure regional hub for transshipment and relay of goods.
Since 1998, the Port of Djibouti has handled 100% of Ethiopia’s maritime traffic, which moves to and from Addis Ababa by truck and rail. To accommodate this business, the port has made many additional dry yard areas available and is creating the Port of Doraleh, 20 kilometers outside of Djibouti city.
The China State Construction Engineering Corporation-China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CSCEC-CCECC) Consortium is the main contractor for the building of the quay and the entire terminal. The whole design and manufacturing of the new multi-purpose unloading equipment and warehouses have been subcontracted to VIGAN, while civil works will be completed by CSCEC-CCECC.
The new terminal will discharge, handle, store and bag grain and fertilizer for a total of about 2 million tonnes per year, and will handle vessels from 30,000 tonnes up to 100,000 deadweight tonnage. Separate grain and fertilizer installations will be built to prevent cross contamination.
For the unloading of grain and fertilizer, VIGAN plans to manufacture and commission one pneumatic ship unloader model NIV600 with unloading capacity of 600 tph/500kW, mounted on rails; a set of belt and chain conveyor systems; one hopper on wheels with three bagging lines of 60 tph and truck loading; and 14 lines of 60-tph bagging systems. VIGAN also will supply two flat warehouses with a total capacity of 85,000 tonnes for the grain terminal and two flat warehouses with total capacity of 145,000 tonnes for the fertilizer terminal; two bulk truck loading stations; and two bulk receiving hoppers.
The new terminal project at the Port of Doraleh is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
Uruguay expands port capacity
Terminales Graneleras Uruguayas loaded its first ship at its newly expanded facility in Nueva Palmira, Uruguay, this May. Neuero, in partnership with Maquinas Condor Brazil, replaced original equipment supplied in 1992 with new, higher capacity equipment, doubling the terminal’s total capacity. Maquinas Condor led the project, with Neuero supplying the technology and key components.
The new equipment has the capacity to unload barges at 800 tph and load at 1,000 tph. The terminal utilizes a single machine — the CombiPort — for loading, unloading and weighing with a commercial scale. With the integrated scale and the possibility to send and receive grain from the silo, the machine is a complete grain terminal.
The CombiPort equipment is able to unload barges to silos with or without weighing; unload barges and direct load ships with weighing; load ships from silos with or without weighing using a slewing vertical telescoping and kick in and kick out movement; and unload barges and grain from silos to load ships.
North American expansions
An existing loading plant in North America is in the process of upgrading to a new boom with a nominal capacity of 1,600 tph and the capability to handle Panamax II vessels. Bühler is completing the project.
Bühler also is constructing two large Portalinks with a nominal capacity of 1,200 tph and the capability of handling Panamax II vessels for a different North American customer.