“As technical consultants specializing in transshipment operations, we excel in devising optimal solutions to ensure peak performance. Our expertise extends to a wide array of dry bulk commodities transshipped across different global locations. Driven by our experiential and logical selection of equipment and machinery, we commit to offering our clients lucrative outcomes,” says Luca Bagnasco, Operations Manager at Shi.E.L.D. Services.
Transshippers are equipped with equipment and machinery chosen to suit the specific properties of the handled cargo, desired loading rate, environmental factors, etc. Cranes and grabs, usually adopted on transshippers, are important in initiating operations, facilitating the transfer of cargo to its destination, which could be a conveyor system, the hold of a bulk carrier, a stockpile, or a receiving hopper on the jetty. Thus, the grabbing of cargo must be at optimal capacity to achieve and maintain the highest loading rate throughout the entire operation.
“Grabs can be a very efficient tool for seamless handling of various dry bulk commodities, provided that their selection is based on various important factors such as the ones listed below.” adds Bagnasco.
Crane SWL and layout: the Safe Working Load (SWL) of the crane used in conjunction with the grab is a fundamental factor for the grab selection. The grab’s overall weight (self-weight and payload) must align with the lifting capacity of the crane to avoid overloading as the crane SWL cannot be exceeded whatsoever. Furthermore, the grab must be selected to match the crane rope layout which can typically be of the single-rope, two-ropes, or four-ropes type.
Type of cargo: strictly interconnected with the crane SWL, the specific gravity of the cargo dictates the grab volume and therefore the grab self-weight. Different types of cargo, varying their specific gravity require a suitable grab for their handling. In some cases where specific gravity of the cargo falls in the same range or varies very minimally, it is possible to use the same grab. In best practice, using a dedicated grab for each type of cargo is optimal.
Grab design: grabs are designed to withstand specific loads and operating conditions. Hence, their design influences their capacity. Grabs come in different design layouts and construction solutions, thus providing versatility for the client’s requirements. For example, a grab made of high tensile steel in lieu of standard steel has a lower self-weight and a greater capacity. All in all, a grab design must assure efficiency, ease of use, minimal environmental impact by eliminating cargo spillage, and a low failure rate.
Type of grabs: the two most commonly used grab types for dry bulk are clamshell and scissor and the choice between them depends on the application. Clamshell grabs are lighter and less expensive but with longer rope withdrawal length which influences their productivity. Whereas scissors grabs have a bigger grabbing area and shorter rope withdrawal length which increase their productivity. On the other hand, they are heavier and more expensive.
Operating conditions: environmental factors such as wind speed and sea conditions, and operating factors such as the points where the cargo is picked-up by the grab and discharged also influence the grab selection. In some situations, such as discharging cargo from/to small holds or hoppers, opting for a smaller grab than that the crane SWL would allow, could be preferable. Even though a smaller grab carries less cargo, it is easier to manoeuvre, and the reduced capacity is offset by the smoother operation and increased efficiency of the whole crane cycle.
“In addition to all the above,” continues Bagnasco, “the ongoing focus on sustainability and environmental impact can also benefit from the grab selection. By using grabs with less deadweight and higher capacity the overall loading cycle is reduced, which entails fuel savings and reduced emissions. Our history holds many successful clients who benefited from our keen and precise selections for their production goals and cost savings.”
Once the grab selection is done right, maintenance and service are reliable practices in the due course of its lifetime. Due to the high frequency of use, grabs often might need to be repaired. It is therefore crucial to have spares available onboard in case of breakdowns and maintenance to ensure the grab is brought to working condition in the shortest time possible.
The optimal performance of bulk handling grabs relies on regular maintenance and proper operator training. Routine inspections, usually carried out after each operation, and servicing are essential to ensure the continued reliability and efficiency of grab systems, minimizing downtime costs and maximizing operational uptime. Likewise, comprehen sive operator training programs ensure safe and efficient grab operation, reducing the risk of accidents and equipment damage. By adhering to planned maintenance and training, one can cut down the overall additional costs for extra repairs and the probability of human errors.
“In conclusion, bulk handling grabs stand as primary components in the transshipment process, offering most efficiency, adaptability, and safety in transshipment scenarios. As global trade continues to expand and evolve, the significance of grabs in facilitating seamless cargo flow and augmenting operational efficiency is bound to increase, solidifying their status as indispensable assets in the maritime industry’s toolkit. Technological advancements such as automation and remote monitoring are poised to further enhance the capabilities of bulk handling grabs. By artificial intelligence and sensor-based technologies, grabs are becoming smarter and more adaptive, optimizing transshipment processes, and improving overall operational efficiency.” concludes Bagnasco.
Shi.E.L.D. Services is a logistics management consulting services company that helps commodity traders, bulk shipping companies, port owners/ operators, and other stakeholders in the dry bulk logistics sector. The company enables companies to streamline their supply chain workflows, reduce operating costs, and maximize profitability. Shi.E.L.D. Services specializes in designing innovative and bespoke dry bulk logistics solutions and comprehensive technical consultancy that help unlock new opportunities.
Its expertise in logistics consulting services is deeply rooted in the dry bulk shipping sector. The company’s team of dry bulk shipping leaders and professionals has served in the core leadership at Coeclerici, one of the world’s leading industry players. They have, since then, built a reputation for excellence, reliability, and efficiency in the maritime logistics and shipping sectors.
As trusted partners in the operation of bulk carriers and transshippers, Shi.E.L.D. Services ensures the continuity of the logistics chain in challenging environments, providing critical first and last-mile connectivity with its fleet of custom-built transshipment vessels and feeder barges. It has worked on several groundbreaking projects in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, including the world’s first transshipment of granulated sulphur in the Black Sea.
Shi.E.L.D. Services is the consecutive winner in the ‘Bulk Logistics Excellence’ category at the IBJ awards 2019 and 2022, followed by the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ won by the CEO in 2023.