Cost-effective Aggregate Shipment to “the Big Apple” and Beyond
Getting much-needed construction aggregate into a metro area as massive as New York City is a logistics challenge. Getting it shipped cost-effectively is an even greater challenge. Enter Gotham Aggregates, LLC, a young, innovative stevedoring and logistics operation founded by several seasoned aggregate and transportation veterans. Located along the Passaic River near the mouth of Newark Bay, the Gotham Aggregates barge loading facility is a cost-efficient conduit for New Jersey aggregate producers to the New York City and metro tri-state markets.
“If you’re going to access these metro markets, and do it effectively, barge transport is the way to do it,” says Tom Wade, director of operations for Gotham Aggregates. Overall, Wade cites up to a 35-percent reduction in shipping costs with barge versus truck delivery to major metro markets.
He points to the many disadvantages of truck transport, such as limited truck availability, labor costs, emissions, and bridge tolls as high as $100 per truckload – equating to additional costs of $3.00 per ton. Plus, ever-increasing traffic congestion, has reduced the number of possible loads daily per truck (from Newark to NYC) down from four to just two per day. With those obstacles in mind, Wade says that he and partners Brad and Tyler Youvan, decided to “blaze the entrepreneurial trail.” They took on the long, arduous task of acquiring a suitable waterfront site and launched their barge loading operation in the summer of 2017.
Utilizing a small footprint
Gotham Aggregates ultimately selected a small acre-and-a-half riverfront site that places them between 15- to 40-nautical miles from a number of target markets. The close proximity to the markets and an ability to achieve expedited shipment turnaround times makes up for the limited stockpiling area on the small footprint. To optimize flow within the tight configuration, the goal was designing a facility that would meet several top requirements: accepting and unloading a desired number of truckloads per day; loading two barges simultaneously without having to move the barges; and maximizing load volumes while ensuring safety and stability on the barge.
This aggressive game plan would require the right design team and equipment to bring it all to fruition. Initially, Gotham Co-founder Brad Youvan consulted with long-time colleague Rod Dibble, president of Dibble Equipment, a New York-based conveying equipment partner of Superior Industries, a rockface-to-loadout equipment manufacturer that has long-tackled a variety of marine applications. “Rod Dibble and the Superior Industries engineers supported us through the entire process, providing us with design and engineering expertise as we searched for potential sites, and as we erected and started up the current facility,” says Youvan.
Ensuring cost-efficient operation
At the heart of the Gotham barge loading operation is a 36-in. X 150-ft. Superior TeleStacker® Conveyor, a telescoping radial stacking conveyor that’s engineered to prevent material segregation; and to load greater volumes in a variety of configurations. A truck unloader system feeds the telescoping conveyor, which operates on a 24-foot-wide X 365-foot-long deck or “spud” barge. Moored by using pilings or shafts commonly referred to as spuds – the spud barge acts as an extension, spanning the distance from the shore out to a water depth adequate for barge operation.
The telescoping radial stacking conveyor system is capable of loading two barges simultaneously – without the time-consuming task of moving the barges backward or forward during loading. The operation also has the ability to raise and lower the conveyor to adjust to the different heights of the river throughout the year, while also adjusting the discharge height as the weight of the load causes the barge to lower in the water.
“The TeleStacker Conveyor gives us two major benefits in a fixed marine facility,” says Wade “Bottomline, we can load the maximum amount of tonnage in the shortest amount of time – typically, two barges during the morning shift, and an additional two barges during the afternoon – and since we don’t have to take the time to winch the barges back and forth, we lower our costs per ton.” He explains that they can configure the conveyor to move radially in an arc; and to extend its stinger in and out to traverse the entire length and width of the two 274-ft. X 57-ft. barges. This maximizes volumes from corner to corner, while loading for safe, level operation.
According to Superior engineers, the TeleStacker Conveyor is engineered with a more robust undercarriage support system for greater safety and stability. With more steel for rock-solid bracing at the conveyor’s most crucial points of stress, this upgraded undercarriage support results in 17-times less structural deflection (shifts under a load) when compared to competitive units. Additionally, heavy-duty support rollers are used to safely guide and support the internal stinger conveyor as it travels in and out of the main frame. The rollers are designed to be load-equalizing, each carrying an even amount of weight. This eliminates excessive and unsafe stress on each single roller.
Making an impact
Barges are loaded, delivered, unloaded and received back at the Gotham site in less than 36 hours. An average of up to 150-truckloads of material arrive at the facility each day from producers typically located within 30- to 70-miles of the site. “Trucking to our barge loading operation versus trucking directly to New York City markets from New Jersey quarries reduces travel time by 50-percent or more – and producers require less trucks to move the same volumes,” says Wade. He explains that each barge shipment to most markets (averaging 30 nautical miles away) is less than 2-1/2 hours in travel time; and traffic congestion is eased by eliminating 80-truckloads from the highway per shipment. Importantly, moving the same cargo by barge results in 90-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when compared to truck shipments.
Future plans at Gotham Aggregates may include expanding the physical footprint; installing automated bin systems that will minimize material re-handling; and adding a new automation package to the telescoping radial stacker. As to their current barge loading systems, Youvan says, “Superior equipment is exactly that in our industry. It’s high quality, high end, and manufactured with quality components,” he says, adding that “the local support from Dibble Equipment provides another level of assurance and security.
Illustrating the just-barge-it trend, from port to port, each year the nation’s coastline barge operators move more than 800-million tons of bulk commodities. For logistics management companies such as Gotham Aggregates, the big benefit is lower operating costs and higher profit margins for aggregate producers and their customers.
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