Mined, sealed, delivered

Rīgas universālais termināls employs containerised bulk handling
Rīgas universālais termināls employs containerised bulk handling
Modern tipplers are used in ports in mineral-rich countries
Modern tipplers are used in ports in mineral-rich countries
Containerised bulk handling can optimise terminal expenses and increase performance
Containerised bulk handling can optimise terminal expenses and increase performance

CBH is reaching new markets. John Bensalhia reports.

The containerised bulk handling (CBH) method of storing and loading bulk cargo has been given a fresh lease of life with more ports today embracing the system.

CBH allows operators access to a complete handling package, virtually reducing the risk of contamination of or pollution from the cargo. Containerised bulk products can be transferred from inland depots or farms directly to the port with loading completed with the aid of a rotating spreader, which loads the contents of the container directly into the ship's hold.

This is by no means a brand new innovation: as Garry Pinder, managing director of Intermodal Solutions Group (ISG) – Pit to Ship Solutions, explains ‘tipplers’ have been around for over 30 years and Thyssenkrupp built the first ones in South Africa more than 30 years ago. But while tipplers have been in existence for more than 30 years, recently, they have given ports a considerable boost in fast, efficient container-loading.

“Modern tipplers have been in service for over seven years now and have been working in ports at locations such as Australia, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Argentina (for grain) and South Africa to name a few,” says Mr Pinder.

One innovation has seen lids designed to be opened inside the ships' hold, providing a dust free solution when a misting system is used.

Slow spread

While, the CBH method of bulk handling has recently seen a renaissance, there has been relatively slow take in European ports. Discussing modern containerised bulk handling, Joel Shirriff, vice president and global practice lead, Terminals and Transportation, Ausenco, points out that some ports are wary of trying out a new approach.

On the Ausenco website, Mr Shirriff wrote: “In my experience, I have found that some clients' apprehension to 'trying something new' is a result of focusing solely on the new equipment and an uncertainty in how to implement this concept for their application. When presented with the bigger picture – the development of an integrated logistics solution that is optimised for geography, existing infrastructure, and specific commodity – they are more open to this approach.”

Rīgas universālais terminals, for example, has found this method to be a hugely successful one for handling wood pellets on large dry bulk ships.

Atis Šulte, RUT trade and business development director, says that the main benefit of introducing this system is that of significant optimisation of terminal expenses and increase in performance. “Now, we can perform dry bulk handling operations involving a significantly smaller number of machinery and human resources. Savings on resources amount to almost 50%.”

“By introducing containerised cargo handling, we have become more competitive and can better adjust to customer requirements," he continues. "Following the general tendency in cargo carriage, dry bulk ships handled at our terminal are becoming even larger. By means of the new technology, we are able to ensure fast and effective loading of large ships. By applying the new technology, we are able to load dry bulk and containers at the same pier, using one portal-frame lift. It allows us to quickly organise our work in the terminal and quickly handle any type of ship.”

South Africa options

Transnet Port Terminals' decision to introduce the CBH system using the RAM Revolver has also paid dividends at South Africa's Port Elizabeth Container Terminal, which was the first of its kind in the country to use ship-to-shore cranes with RAM Revolver spreaders to load bulk ore carrying vessels.

The electro-hydraulically operated RAM Revolvers can also be used for handling of materials on mobile harbour and bridge cranes, as well as reachstackers. The RAM Revolvers promise safe, efficient and environmentally-friendly bulk handling via a lid lifting mechanism that removes the lid of a container. The container is then rotated, tipping the commodity into the ship's hold in one single, constant operation.

A report on the progress at Port Elizabeth Container Terminal found that there was an average increase in export volume by 22.5% year-on-year, with the introduction of this technology allowing customers to export over 2.5m tons of manganese ore between 2013 and 2017.

Positive feedback was also noted for capacity demand, higher loading rates, improved turnaround time and reduced vessel stay time at the port. Following on from the encouraging results, two more RAM Revolvers have since been acquired for the port to complement the terminal with three fully operational adjacent cranes.

Time and space

Mr Pinder explains that a key benefit of CBH is that it can save considerable time and space. “The benefits for using the system is that it's up and running in six months instead of the usual five years for conventional conveyor belt system.

“No storage sheds are needed as the containers are used as the sheds. The minerals can be sampled at the mine site and blocked stacked at the port and using a simple algorithm, the ship can be blended to suit the customers needs.” Furthermore, the sealed containers ensure that there are no issues when it comes to theft or risks to the environment. “There is no theft of the product nor environmental problems on the way to the port or at the port as the containers are sealed and the lids only come off inside the ships hold using the ISG patented lid lifter."

The Port of Riga also comments on the environmental benefits: “Containerised dry bulk handling is also an environmentally-friendly technology. Cargo is practically poured into the holds, rather than above them, which reduces the amount of dust that ends up in the air. Likewise, spread of dust and cargo losses are reduced by handling a great amount of cargo within one lifting time.”

Last year, both the environmental factors and safe transportation were among the benefits afforded by the new RAM tipping containers and equipment at Hutchison Ports TIMSA (Manzanillo’s International Terminal). A total of Pesos50m were invested, with an initial run of 140 specially designed containers for bulk mineral operation. During an initial operation in April 2017 at Impala Terminals México, 7,200 tons of copper extract was moved to the Federal Hunter vessel.

The environmentally-friendly technology - including an attachment that allows for a 360° rotation of the container - avoided the risk of pollution from storage to port is avoided and eliminated dust emissions.

Mr Pinder says that the future is bright for the system as more and more governments focus on the environment. “The days of stacking minerals on the quay side or dusty conveyor belt systems are going, so ports and miners need to seek new ideas. This system is cheaper and environmentally friendly."

And as the system operates comfortably in container ports, all ports need to purchase is the tippler to turn their facility into a CBH hub.

With airtight lids, containerised Bulk Handling systems can eliminate the problem of cargo loss, a key attraction of such a system.
Potential spillage is a notable worry for ports handling bulk cargoes. especially in the cases of valuable cargo, such as copper, which can sell for around and in excess of $3,000 per ton.

Copper producing company CODELCO has taken this on board during its transfer of copper concentrate from the mine to bulk port, Puerto Angamos in Mejillones, Chile. By using a totally-sealed, zero-material loss system, and eschewing the traditional methods of bulk export of copper concentrate (such as trucking, warehousing and ship loading conveyor systems), the risk of material loss hAs been considerably lessened as the copper is completely enclosed during its journey from mine to ship.

By sealing the copper concentrate in a lockable lidded box, the only time the lid is removed is by the lid lifter on the revolving spreader before rotation at the bottom of the ship's hatch. Once tipping commences, the hatch is sealed with a hatch based dust suppression system that can catch any rising dust.


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