HPC uses international experience to assist bulk operators in the implementation of new facilities
Field reports from around the globe
HPC Hamburg Port Consulting is active around the globe with projects in South and North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. HPC’s specialization on port facilities ranges from port masterplans over operational designs and automation to the commissioning of heavy port equipment.
Chile: Recently, HPC has successfully completed professional engineering services for an unloading platform with two bulk handling grab-type ship-unloader gantry cranes. As part of a Chilean infrastructure project ensuring electrical power supply, the coal unloading platform constitutes a crucial element. “We state the requirements with absolute clarity in the specifications and make them part of the contract with the vendor,” says HPC engineer Alexander Koschinsky: “In this way we make sure that our customers receive high-quality equipment with a long lifetime and minimum maintenance cost.” HPC’s engineers elaborated the unloading platform crane specifications, assisted in technical and commercial contract negotiations with the supplier until final contract signing, permanently supervised the construction, executed pre-shipment tests at the manufacturer's site, and finally supervised and executed final test trials until provisional acceptance of the cranes at the client's site.
HPC thoroughly specifies the equipment required in such facilities. In this setup it is, for example, very important to ensure the fatigue design is based on a conventional number of hoisting and trolley cycles of at least eight million cycles of operation, based on a design life of 40 years and utilization rate of 75%. The know-how needed for such assignments ranges from mechanical and electrical engineering to software integration expertise. The semi-automated control of the cranes contains highly specialised system features. Projects are successful when the involved team in addition to all specific engineering expertise also comprises a deep understanding of the customers’ business goals. Koschinsky says: “At HPC we are especially proud to be able to offer our clients this holistic approach. We have very experienced operations experts in our team.”
Uruguay: The mission of HPC in the realization of a bulk terminal in Uruguay was to monitor, verify and certify the project’s physical and financial progress. The team continuously analysed the construction schedule and cost and checked compliance with applicable standards on regular site visits. Based on the findings of those inspections and documents received, HPC analysed the project and prepared quarterly progress reports, but also advised the operator directly as to defects and bottlenecks discovered in the course of the continuous monitoring. To issue independent engineer’s certificates was of key importance to release disbursement requests and assistance in the final verification of the project to also release sponsors’ guarantees.
Construction works had been split into seven individual construction contracts on design-build and design-bid-build basis of more than US$80 million. Construction works comprised as key elements a jetty of 290m length with three concrete loading towers of 46m height, automated shiploaders and conveyor belts on the jetty, dredging for the berths at the jetty, 12 main and several minor silos with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes, truck sampling and reception sheds, bucket elevator tower, wood chip stacker, buildings, conveyor belts and further terminal infrastructure at the landside, such as electrical network and automation system as well as reclamation of additional storage area and driving of a sheet pile wall for an additional feeder berth.
Several challenging tasks had been focused within the project period of four years. The first challenge was to harmonize and co-ordinate seven main contractors together with local site engineers and the operator. But also close to finalization, HPC experts guided the terminal operator when day-to-day work and operational adjustments of first regular operation stages ran parallel to the last construction works and taking-over procedures. HPC project manager Niels Kröger says: “With our deep operations know-how on one hand and high engineering expertise on the other, we interface between these two areas. This is of particular importance for the success of such projects and very often underestimated.” The harmonization of the financial view of the lenders and the predominantly operational and economical perspective of the operator with the technical conditions and needs was not only in this project, but is regularly one of the biggest challenges.
Ghana: Within the course of upgrading Tema Port, a new dry bulk handling jetty has been constructed. The construction works have been executed by the Israeli enterprise AMANDI in the framework of a design-build contract. Project management and site supervision were realized by a joint venture formed by HPC and the civil engineering company Sellhorn. The new bulk handling jetty is designed with a length of 450m and a width of 50m to enable berthing of four bulk carriers with up to 30,000dwt. In contrast to the existing berths that consist of precast concrete blocks, the new jetty is founded on steel-encased bored concrete piles with lengths between 20m and more than 30m. The upper jetty structure consists of a combination of precast concrete main beams and cross beams, precast concrete slabs and fillings casted in situ.
“Only in the beginning of construction works, some critical items were discovered,” says HPC project manager Niels Kröger, “but then the works reached routine.” Pile driving, drilling, precasting of concrete elements, positioning of reinforcement steel and precast elements, and casting in situ for pile heads, beam junctions and topping were the steps. Thus, throughout the entire project, no critical incidents occurred, which rarely happens in the context of construction works with important foundation works in the maritime environment. An important lesson learned: keep structures and related construction methods as simple as possible, which worked exemplarily well in this project with the major part of structural elements as precast structures.
Asia: During a current assignment for a rising bulk terminal operator in Asia, HPC is involved in the implementation and development of a bulk terminal. When it comes to the operational stage, plenty of single items have to be fitted to the big picture for making a facility run. Although detailed project plans are rolled out to make sure contributions are delivered in-time and in the right quality, every project has its surprises and urges for pragmatism down the stretch. When loading and unloading equipment is not fully available or handover devices are not interfaced properly, HPC experts try to identify simple workarounds connecting sub-processes to move the cargo through the facility. HPC’s experience tells that most frequently affected areas are traffic flows and communication processes between terminal control and operations. HPC project manager Arman Lahouti says: “Communication is a key success factor. As a result of such a dynamic environment, the terminal staff has to be frequently informed on latest activities and engaged for measures ahead.”
In the meantime continuous improvement activities are launched with the aim to elevate the terminal performance towards design levels. This process requires a performance measurement framework feeding terminal administration with accurate figures. Having identified valid data sources, the KPI set-up shall create understanding of terminal activities and dependencies, i.e. how consignment dwell times affect berthing schedules and housekeeping moves in the yard. Defining the proper quantity of KPIs is the main challenge thereby ensuring that key activities are monitored while the top view on the facility is maintained.
HPC’s project team delivered operational performance reports enabling the management to identify utilisation rates and facility bottlenecks, subsequently driving development measures towards capacity harmonization. The as-is figures were also converted to rolling forecast values feeding financial planning activities. HPC’s KPI based improvement approach is eligible to be enhanced by simulation studies to validate dynamic terminal capacities taking into account commodity specific seasonality factors. HPC offers an extensive simulation toolbox, which —beyond the operational performance — also provides measurement of emission levels. Emission reduction becomes a relevant improvement area for bulk terminals as the carbon footprint is increasingly regulated by port authorities aiming for environmentally-friendly port operations.
In more than 40 years, HPC has delivered approximately 1,600 projects across 120 countries along the full project development cycle. HPC is convinced that this “makes us inimitably knowledgeable with regard to ports, dry cargo facilities and container terminals. Understanding ourselves as a full-service provider, our clients do not only benefit from our wide international experience but also value our multidisciplinary approach.”