Dry bulk technology designed to streamline handling is out there as Alex Hughes discovers
Dust suppression is high on the wish-list of ports investing in dry bulk handling equipment and not solely for the altruistic act of reducing the local resident’s inhalation of potentially harmful particles.
The added benefit of reduced clean-up around loading operations is a strong incentive for intelligent loading equipment.
Here, DSH Systems’ Dust Suppression Hopper does exactly what it says on the tin. And its award winning status gives it additional credibility on the port scene.
UK-based Guttridge Ltd is sole agent for this outloading hopper, specially developed by New Zealand-based DSH Systems to tackle the issue of dust emission during the bulk loading of granular products such as fertilisers, grain, sand, and minerals.
The innovation of the Dust Suppression Hopper, says chairman Peter Guttridge, comes from the unique design of the system, which concentrates the discharge stream into a dense, solid-like column of material, dramatically reducing dust release and drawing any fine particles present downwards into the receiving vessel.
“For many, interest in the DSH is triggered by health and safety issues, with risks associated with uncontrolled dust release ranging from operator inhalation through to waterway contamination and even explosion. However, health and safety is not the only motivation; operators also implement the technology because of the potential for economic gain, which stems from reductions in clean up costs and the elimination of lost product,” says Mr Guttridge.
He notes that compared with other dust suppression technologies, Guttridge Ltd's DSH primarily differs to conventional dust suppression technology because it is based on prevention, rather than isolation and control. Conventional alternatives use telescopic bellow technology, which involves lowering the product outlet as close as possible to the receiving vessel/or surface. However, the need for movement results in a complex mechanical design complete with associated control system and very often additional extraction equipment.
The DSH, in contrast, has no internal moving parts and requires no utilities for operation. It remains at the same overall height during discharge and this can be some considerable distance above the receiving surface with no loss of performance.
“Return on investment is, of course, quite variable, although users can expect to see major gains in the form of reduced product loss and less clean up,” says Mr Guttridge.
Asked whether the main impact of introducing a DSH would be improved handling or greater handling efficiency, he points out that the dust suppression performance of the system results in a dramatic improvement in handling, although this is usually achieved with no loss of throughput.
“So, handling is definitely improved, but with maintained throughput, less clean-up and low on-going maintenance. Overall handling efficiency is much higher too,” he says.
Significantly, the simplicity of the DSH – with no mechanical or moving parts – translates into reduced maintenance spend, compared with traditional dust suppression techniques. The hopper has a secure reliable design, with very low lifecycle costs.
“The current focus of development is new application areas for the DSH. The technology is already being used for a variety of materials, from grains through to minerals, but compressed wood pellets and other organic materials are a growing area of application as the biomass industry ramps up,” says Mr Guttridge. “There is also constant pressure to produce higher capacity DSH hoppers and we now offer a range of hoppers ideally suited to dockside applications capable of many hundreds of tonnes/hour.”
On the crane side, there is much talk of modular designs in the cargo handling business being the way forward, but Kimmo Nyman, sales director, port cranes, at Konecranes, does not believe this to be applicable to high capacity, gantry grab unloaders.
“Such cranes simply cannot be very standardised or modular in their design,” he says. “Bulk terminals, by their very nature, are different in terms of layout, quay conveyor arrangements and capacity requirements.” He argues that, in each case, the crane has to be designed based on the rail span, outreach requirement, backreach, lifting capacity and the number of quay conveyors. In addition, the permitted wheel loads on existing jetties and wharves can also vary. “Additional features, such as dust extraction and noise reduction have to be taken into account as well. So, instead of speaking about modular designs, we therefore like to emphasise so-called 'conceptual designs',” says Mr Nyman. In many ways, customers therefore need to decide upfront exactly what features they want to their grab crane to incorporate.
“There would not only be a price premium to be paid, but also technical difficulties to add, for example, a dust extraction or noise reduction system as a retrofit, since these would require major structural changes,” he says, although notes that some control system features can quite easily be added afterwards.
Calculating return on investment for a grab unloader is therefore centred on how reliable it is when in operation and whether it meets guaranteed performance while in continuous operation, he adds. This is related to the technical design, manufacturing quality and after sales service that the supplier provides.
Ease of maintenance and operational reliability are the two most important performance indicators on high capacity grab unloaders. For this reason, Konecranes AGD Grab Unloader is mechanically very simple and electrically no more sophisticated than any modern PLC/inverter controlled crane, but with help of new technologies in power feed-back, data collection and remote services, the customer can enjoy energy efficient and reliable crane operation.
“Dry bulk operators should always seek to incorporate a crane management system with remote servicing and monitoring features. In order to reach high operational availability rates for the crane, accurate on-line information is of vital importance. This data can be used for reporting, fault finding, preventive maintenance scheduling or simply for monitoring purposes,” he says. “By using this, a crane’s downtime can be greatly reduced due to fast and expert assistance.”
Mr Nyman also explodes the myth that some monitoring equipment is too sensitive to be used in a dry bulk terminal. Instead, all sensors and limit switches have to be designed specifically for individual operational conditions, he says.
“The question is how to collect the present signals already available from each motor, inverter and sensor, store them, analyse and process them, and finally use that information for reporting, fault finding and remote servicing and our TruConnect system is a prime example of how to do that,” he says. “Improving a crane's operational reliability through the use of modern technology does not mean having to incorporate more sophisticated or vulnerable systems. At Konecranes, such features are now standard, not optional features.”
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