Strengthening systems

Locking on: Teesport makes use of magnets to deliver cargo, improving health and safety on the dock
Industry Database

Teesport has the luxury of challenging its steel handling methods under a ten-year contract, as Felicity Landon finds out

Exports of steel through Tees Dock in northeast England have rocketed following Corus’ refocusing of Teesside Cast Products as a slab exporter and the signing of a ten-year offtake contract with a consortium of international re-rolling companies. Corus will export at least 78% of its annual 3.3m tonne output, and it is all going through PD Teesport's facilities.

“We have ramped up exports so that this year it will be 2.5m tonnes,” says PD Teesport’s commercial director, Trevor Meredith. “We are now handling 200,000 tonnes of slab a month – and we used to do that in a year.

“How did we do this? First, we looked at port capacity in terms of berthing capacity, handling equipment and getting the workforce up to speed in terms of doing this on a monthly basis.”

PD purchased two Gottwald 330 EG mobile harbour cranes – the second of which also happened to be Gottwald’s 1,000th sale of a mobile harbour crane. “High handling rates,long lifetime and extraordinary versatility were the main reasons for PD Teesport choosing the HMK 330 EG, a four-rope crane version of our best-seller, the HMK 300 E,” says Gottwald spokesman Peter Klein.

To handle the slabs from Corus, the cranes are equipped with chains and lifting beams,and were built to handle loads up to 63 tonnes at a radius of 35 metres – so they are able to lift two steel slabs weighing 30 tonnes each. In addition, the distance between the crane’s axles was adapted to allow for the quay’s characteristics.

“We have specific requirements because of the construction of our quay deck,”says Mr Meredith.“It is a piled structure and capped with the quay. Because of the quay loadings and the fact that we are lifting two or three slabs totalling 60 tonnes into the vessels on a  regular basis, getting to the top level of the crane’s range on a regular basis, we had to have a specially designed chassis, which evenly spreads the loads over the piles.”

When PD started out on the new export contract with Corus, the expectation was it would be loading 11,000 tonnes-12,000 tonnes a day into ships,“but we are actually doing up to 15,000 tonnes-16,000 tonnes,” says Mr Meredith.

“We have increased productivity significantly. We use forklift trucks with magnets to deliver the cargo to the ship’s side – the advantage of magnets is that you need less dunnage separating the slabs and less manpower interfacing with the goods,therefore from a health and safety point of view it is a lot better.

“We load multiple beams instead of single slabs.We had to redesign the lifting beam and slings we use – we have a special chain type sling which is a combination of six or seven small chains, so it is relatively light but more robust.”Also, the ship stowing method has been modified to the modified California stow, filling the wings of the ship first to create a square.

“This is a ten-year contract, which we are now two years into. The beauty is that if you have a ten-year contract, you can look at challenging your handling methods.You can spend money on training labour and getting them up to speed on that.

“But if people are looking at short-termism, perhaps a 12-month or two-year contract, it doesn’t quite give you the same incentive to make sure you have the most efficient handling process.”

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