Poised to maximize the market potential at sites such as Port Kembla, Bulk Conveying Equipment (BCE) provides high-quality shiploading/unloading services to exporters of coal, coke, iron ore, slag and other dry or sticky commodities. BCE Managing Director Jeremy Clarke, a veteran materials handling and process engineer, formed the company in 2011. “As an alternative to conventional fixed shiploading methods, our mission is providing highly mobile material handling solutions that can be configured for multiple material types, multiple vessel sizes, complex or limited berth footprints, and short- or long-term contracts,” says Clarke.
BCE was awarded a multi-year contract at Port Kembla when the facility decided against replacing an old and outmoded fixed loading system with a new fixed loading system. The latter initiative had been scrapped due to a downturn in the region’s coal industry. With its newly-acquired mobile equipment, BCE was an ideal choice to provide much-needed flexible, versatile and cost-effective loading/unloading solutions. Clarke was able to meet the port’s requirements with a customized portable system that includes a mobile truck unloader, and two telescoping shiploading conveyors. “The system is specifically set up for this contract; however, we can easily relocate it in future years to serve other ports,” says Clarke.
After a careful review of various suppliers, Clarke chose a system engineered by Superior. The system is comprised of a 72-inch (belt width) RazerTail® Truck Unloader; a 42-inch by 150-foot Passport™ Conveyor; and a 42-inch by 170-foot Passport Conveyor. Clarke says that he chose the equipment for its strength and heavy-duty construction; its customization capabilities to reliably handle the lightest to the heaviest abrasive materials; and its transfer point mobility options. For example, the truck unloader and telescoping conveyors operate in conjunction with a mobile pivot base that allows free ranging transfer point mobility. The swiveling wheel carriage of the mobile pivot base allows rotation of the system’s components into an inline travel mode; a dock travel or transverse travel mode with a 360-degree rotation; and a radial travel or tow mode.
“The mobile pivot base allows us to quickly travel from one end of the vessel to the other, often a distance of 230 meters or more, traversing in a parallel direction down the berth in minutes – as we often load the 2nd and 4th hatches, followed by the 5th and 1st hatches for a balanced loading method on the vessel,” says Clarke.
The telescopic capability of the mobile shiploading conveyor enables an additional 30-percent of extension. Combined with its radial motion, the shiploader conveyor is able to reach multiple hatches from the same feed point. “This is a major advantage as we are not allowed to stockpile any feed materials on the berth due to EPA requirements,” says Clarke. “The telescopic feature also gives us the flexibility to feed 5,000-ton to 55,000-ton vessels. We’re able to reach over the side of the very large Panamax ships while being able to efficiently position for loading into the hatches,” he adds.
Clarke also stresses that the stinger on the telescoping conveyor allows them to easily center the load, while avoiding any spillage. “Often, with our material, we need to fully load the hatch and that means we need to trim the hatch approximately 1.5 meters below the top surface of the hatch. In conjunction with the radial travel, the telescoping feature is very important as we have the ability to move that trajectory with the full square of the hatch. For even greater efficiency, we operate with a trimming chute on the end of the stinger,” he says.
BCE’s shiploading system is also noteworthy for its customization to handle the major material shipped at the port – metallurgical coke – a very abrasive material on equipment when compared to other carbons used in the iron and steel industries. “Our equipment requires ceramic liners, as well as AR Steel liners at the drop points. To meet environmental requirements, we have rubber skirting at transfer points. On the critical underside area of the shiploader (between the wharf and the ship), we have stainless steel underpans. There is also a washdown system to handle any minimal spillage. Additionally, to prevent any material buildup, there are primary and secondary belt scrapers on each unit,” says Clarke.
When handling coke, material is fed from the RazorTail Truck Unloader and onto a screening plant where material is sized for a variety of smelting furnaces; and fines are separated. “Because the RazorTail Truck Unloader can feed up to five meters high, this allows us to feed directly into the screening plant or onto the shiploader conveyor,” says Clarke. He explains that the ability to directly hit key transfer points is a strategy that minimizes material degradation, while reducing capital equipment costs, and allowing efficient use of space on the deck.
“In addition to the coke, we also handle coal and iron ore – so we alternate on occasion from the very light materials to very heavy materials. As a result we have customized the equipment with special wear plates in the impact areas to allow us to feed the different products. When loading the heavier materials, we remove the screening plant from the circuit and relocate the truck unloader to feed directly to the shiploading conveyor. Our system gives us so much versatility and is not limited in any way,” says Clarke.
As to loading capacities, Clarke estimates that his crew can load up to 450-tons per hour of coke depending upon hatch changes. “Our screening requirements will slow down our feed rates a bit,” he says. BCE averages up to 650-tons per hour when loading coal and up to 1200-tons per hour when loading iron ore.
“Importantly, Superior Industries understands shiploading as a system that can handle a variety of materials and vessel sizes with the same installation. Also, their technical support and onsite installation assistance is exceptional,” says Clarke. “We look forward to what this system will do for us in future contracts.
As an alternative to more costly stationary shiploading systems, custom-configured mobile loading/unloading systems deliver the advantages of a lower capital investment, quick onsite assembly, ease of relocation, and the ability to function efficiently with a limited footprint. Most importantly, the goal is minimizing load times and the time required to move equipment from one feed point to another. That’s why maximum portability is the key focus from port to port.