At the site where Ultra-Brag AG has up to now unloaded ships
and warehoused goods in the Rhine port of Basel, Switzerland,
the international pharmaceutical corporation Novartis plans to
realize its ‘Campus of Knowledge, Innovation, and Community’.
As a replacement for its existing installations, Ultra-Brag has
therefore moved to the port of Kleinhüningen, where it has
constructed an 83-metre-tall bulk storage elevator, and to the
Muttenzer Auhafen port, where it has built a huge flat store.
Buhler supplied the equipment inside these new facilities.
“The construction of these two new installations was an
enormous challenge for us,” admits Beat Heydrich, the CEO of
Ultra-Brag AG. He adds: “But the construction and relocation
project also generated new impetus for us and provided us with
numerous new, state-of-the-art, and efficient facilities. This gave
us the opportunity to improve our processes and to enhance
our efficiency.”
   The new bulk storage terminal that Ultra-Brag AG operates
in the Rhine port of Kleinhüningen is an impressive structure.
With its overall height of 83 metres, it clearly dominates the
Basel port skyline. This height required a number of special
measures: the structure has to be earthquake-proof, it must be
resilient enough to absorb wind loads, and its immense weight
must be reliably supported by its relatively small footprint of 27
by 40 metres. The concrete structure, which was built by the
slip-forming method in three stages, therefore stands on a large
number of piles with a thickness of up to 1.2 metres and a
length of 28 metres. The bulk storage section of the new
Ultra-Brag landmark has a height of about 70 metres. It houses
32 round storage bins plus 15 interstice bins, which hold more
than 40,000 cubic meters of material. Most of the Buhlersupplied
equipment is installed in the headhouse of the elevator
building, which is attached on the waterside to the block of bins
and rises another four building levels beyond the bins. The core
systems of the entire installation are the two 87-metre-tall beltand-
bucket elevator legs which elevate the material from the
ship or rail receiving sections to the top of the terminal.
Ultra-Brag AG has trusted the proven bulk storage and
conveying technology of Buhler for decades. Therefore the
company again entrusted the supply, installation supervision, and
start-up of the complex materials handling and control systems
for the new bulk storage facility to the grain handling specialists
from Uzwil.
   With its height of 83 metres and its very small footprint of
merely about 1,000m2, the new storage elevator tower of
Ultra-Brag AG is a very special case. In addition, some of the
storage bins are vertically split in order to
increase the total number of bins. An active
explosion protection system and explosion
pressure relief through the bin ceilings are
part of an overall ATEX explosion control
concept. The bulk storage technology
applied reflects the state of the art.
Numerous chain conveyors and elevator legs
move the bulk commodities from the ship
unloading point to the storage bins. Special
receiving and cleaning systems ensure proper
cleaning of the grain prior to storage. The
bulk material bins are exhausted through
centralized as well as decentralized dust
collection filters. Buhler also installed the
equipment required for loading road and rail
vehicles for onward transportation. The fully automated
materials handling systems are capable of handling as much as
600m3. This is five times the capacity of the old location.
The second new building structure built for Ultra-Brag AG in the
Auhafen port of Muttenz, a suburb of Basel, differs in many
respects from the tall bulk storage terminal.
This twin-level flat storage facility with a footprint of 42 by
120 metres holds a total of 27,000m3 of bulk animal feeds and of
6,600m3 of fertilizer. The modified design supplied by Buhler —
with chain conveyors installed above the flat store roof for
introducing the material into the feed storage section instead of
belt conveyors inside the building – increased the customer’s
total storage capacity by more than 60% with given building
dimensions. This clearly reduces the specific cost of storage
The formulated feeds and the fertilizers are stored
and handled on two completely separated building
levels. Flat stores are basically designed for the
intermediate storage of such bulk materials because
they are unsuitable for storage in conventional
storage silos due to their special flow characteristics.
The top level of the flat store is reserved for animal
feeds. Its 25 compartments are filled by separate
roof-top conveying systems. Fertilizer is stored on the
ground floor. The 16 compartments there – which are
completely separated from the feed handling
installations – are fed directly from the ship berthing
point. As the new flat store is not located on the
waterside, a high-capacity conveying system had to be
constructed from the ship unloading to the new shed
across the railroad tracks and the road.
According to Ultra-Brag, the proportion of animal feeds and
derivatives supplied in containers has continuously increased
over the past few years. A niche market has emerged for
container transportation of bulk materials on selected shipping
routes and for special products. Even today, Buhler provides
solutions for loading and unloading cereal grains, animal feeds,
and derivatives into and from containers. New, modern
installations are being increasingly equipped with this ‘container
option’. This is an additional variant within the grain terminal
beside the ship, rail, and road unloading and loading systems. But
even if the significance of this materials transportation method is
rising steadily, the total share of ‘container grain’ ultimately
remains fairly low. This is because of the volatile freight rates
and the occasional lack of availability of free containers on such
transport routes. Currently, the global share of grain shipped by
container is said to amount to only about one or two per cent.
In the flat store of the Auhafen port, Buhler installed a container
tipping platform with an integrated intake pit. This allows
automatic discharge of containers using a programmable logic
control system. The container crane installed at the customer’s
site deposits the containers directly on the dumping platform.
Discharge can start as soon as the container doors have been
As in the new building structure in Kleinhüningen, the
technical equipment installed in the new Ultra-Brag flat store in
the Auhafen port was also supplied by Buhler. Its grain handling
specialists designed and installed all the materials handling
systems in the feed storage section and in the weighing tower, as
well as the feed intake equipment and the installations for
loading road and rail vehicles. Buhler also configured and built
the complex control system of the plants. Both locations are
equipped with WinCos.r2 from Buhler. WinCos.r2 control
contains Buhler’s long term know-how with proven functionality
in plants around the world. System and operation information
can be sent to users by electronic mail or phone message, its
ease of use is just convincing.
Construction of the new building structures for Ultra-Brag
AG lasted from the start of construction in the spring of 2008
to commissioning in the autumn of 2009, a little less than one
year and a half. This allowed the opening ceremony to be held
at the end of October 2009.
Buhler is the global technology partner for gentle and efficient
handling and storage of valuable agricultural raw materials such
as grains or derivatives. Professional grain management is its
core competence. Process solutions from Grain Handling
include bulk storage systems, ship loading and unloading and
conveying components.
Ultra-Brag AG was set up in 1925. Privately owned, it is an
international Swiss forwarding and inland navigation company
with headquarters in Basel. The portfolio of
Ultra-Brag AG includes inland navigation, rail and
road transportation, collection and distribution
services in the Upper Rhine region; container
services; logistics; industrial packing; insurance
brokerage; customs clearance; plus storage and
handling of goods of all kinds. For clients from
industry and commerce, Ultra-Brag AG manages
materials handling in the Rhine ports of Basel
Kleinhüningen, Birsfelden, and Muttenz Auhafen.
Ultra-Brag AG has some 160 employees and
operates inland navigation vessels on all European
waterways and canals. In addition, it operates
installations allowing weather-independent
materials handling; crane systems for mass
commodities, general loads, containers, and heavy
units up to 600 metric tonnes; storage and staging
halls; warehouses for general cargo; and systems
for cleaning, drying, and cooling agricultural