Sweden’s specialist ports weather the storm

In recent years, it has become more and more apparent that those ports in Sweden that have concentrated on particular traffic sectors have fared somewhat better than rivals intent on handling everything imaginable that is transported by sea. Not every port nowadays handles dry bulk, although some, like Gothenburg, are taking another look at niche commodities.

For the last 20 years, Gothenburg has not been a major player in the Swedish dry bulk market and has no plans to be so again. However, Claes Sundmark,VP for the Cargo Business Area, points out that the decision taken by the port authority to effectively pull out of the traditional dry bulk market some 20 years ago and instead concentrate on containers, cars, ro/ro and energy products has been borne out by the port’s bottom line success.

“In Sweden, those ports that have not specialized in particular areas — but instead try to handle a wide range of commodities — are not profitable. In contrast, those ports that have been successful have stuck to what they do best and concentrated resources on those areas,” says Sundmark.

When Gothenburg pulled out of the dry bulk market, much of the existing traffic passed to either Uddevalla or Varberg with which Gothenburg had established the ‘West Sweden Seaports’ association.

“However, we have now identified a demand for shipping dry bulk traffic from Gothenburg to non-containerized ports in areas such as the Middle East and Africa,” says Sundmark.

This realization that there was a breakbulk market that the port could profitably service grew out of the establishment of a new rail-connected facility that the port authority developed just outside its boundaries. Here, sawn timber from northern and central Sweden arrives by rail, and also by truck from saw mills closer to Gothenburg. Shipments are then moved to the port, where they are stuffed into containers or trailers for despatch worldwide.

“Although saw mills that we have spoken to confirm that ever larger amounts of their output is being containerized or despatched within Europe by trailer, there is still demand out there in markets such as Egypt, Libya and Morocco for 

traditional breakbulk shipments of commodities such as pulp, timber and maybe paper, and it is those that we are now planning to reintroduce into Gothenburg,” he says.

“I should stress that we are definitely not considering going back into iron ore, scrap or salt handling, but are rather targeting high value breakbulk, where we can add value.”

Although he concedes it is difficult to calculate exactly how much additional traffic this initiative will generate, he does point out that it will not be a ‘game changer’. Nevertheless, saw mills currently using Gothenburg for their containerized output and others for more traditional break bulk shipments will now be able to concentrate all their output through one port, which Sunmark stresses makes sense, given that Gothenburg has unparalleled connectivity in the region, offering deep sea services to global destinations and daily ro/ro sailings to the UK, Belgium, Germany and Denmark.

“No other port is even close to being able to offer that type of service,” he says.

Some extra investment will be required, but the port authority is already working with its existing terminal operators to secure this. However, the financial outlay will probably be limited to the reinforcing of certain quays to allow the operation of mobile harbour cranes, which will have to be purchased to handle the new traffic. All the road, rail, yard infrastructure, stresses Sundmark, is already there.

“Although we don’t currently have all the necessary expertise to handle these new products, putting it in place won’t be a problem either,” he says.

As for last year, Gothenburg handled just 204 tonnes of dry bulk, compared to 118 tonnes in 2013. According to Sundmark, there are just two companies currently handling dry bulk in the port: NCC and Vikans Kross.

“Volumes handled last year very much reflected their business activity,” he says. “In reality, they concentrate on just a couple of commodities: sand and gravel, both of which are essentially ‘captive’ to Gothenburg.”

Because the end users of both materials are located close to the port installations, there is no need to deploy either rail or inland waterway connections; everything is shipped by road.

However, sometimes, those ports that do specialize in certain areas can be hard hit once the source of that traffic dries up.

Hargs Hamn, for example, handled almost 1.5mt (million tonnes) in 2014, of which iron ore from the Dannemora mines accounted for 78%. This compares to 1.3mt in 2013, where iron ore traffic amounted to 937,000 tonnes.

According to Port Administrator Peter Zone´, the Dannemora iron ore mine opened in 2012, increasing its production throughout both 2012 and 2013, only for it to be declared bankrupt in March 2014.

“We do not know what the future will be for the mine,” he says.

Other than iron ore, other commodities handled included various types of fuel, such as wood chips, wood pellets, and de- icing road salt, all of which depend heavily on prevailing weather conditions as to the volumes being shipped. Indeed, the 2013/2014 winter proved to be relatively mild, therefore volumes of dry fuels decreased.

“We also handle scrap metal, but this market can move extremely quickly, with sharp up turns and down turns. It is not a sector that is easy to forecast, but at 58,000 tonnes in 2014 it remains an important commodity for us,” says Zone´.

Both iron ore and scrap metal are exported, with other imports amounting to just 300,000 tonnes in 2014, around 20% of the total. 

He notes that certain products are, essentially, captive to Hargs Hamn, since iron ore and fuels, such as woodchip, need special indoor storage and handling equipment, the latter involving the unloading of iron ore from railway wagons.

In terms of added value, some products, such as crushed volcanic lavastone from Iceland — a new, but small volume product Hargs Hamn started handling in the summer 2014 — and cobble stones from Portugal are packed into big bags. Peat briquettes are unloaded from conventional dry cargo ships at the port and then stuffed into 20 ft dry cargo containers.

Rail features heavily in the landside movement of dry bulk. Almost all the iron ore was moved by train, while the containers into which the peat briquettes are loaded are then shipped inland by rail. A few trains are also rostered to move sawn timber stocks.

“All in all, 1.2mt out of a total of 1.5mt was transported to or from the port by rail in 2014,” says Zone´. “The port actively markets the use of rail and has developed close contacts with the National Infrastructure Rail Company in respect of maintenance and track upgrades.”

The largest ships regularly calling at Hargs Hamn to take on dry bulk consignments are ‘R’ class vessels operated by Wagenborgs. These are approximately 23,000dwt and can load around 18,000 tonnes, based on fairway draught restrictions of 8.5 metres.

“Since March 2015, these ships have operated under a special permit that allows them to load about 21,000 tonnes, using an old, but narrow part of the fairway, which has draught of 9.5 metres,” he explains.

As for the future, there have now been two crushed lavastone consignments handled inbound from Iceland. The first arrived in the summer of 2014 and the second in early April 2015. Hargs Hamn is believed to be the only Swedish port apart from Malmo¨ which handles this product.

“We are also working hard on trying to attract new business from building companies, or suppliers of building materials, involving steel rods, pipes, modules, and building equipment made of steel or cement, and so on,” says Zone´. “In addition, and as of November 2014, we have offered the loading of grains using a new 10m x 4.5m steel box. Trucks tip their cargo into this, with the grain then loaded into the ship by crane. Clearly, we are expecting to generate an increase in grain volumes.”

O¨rnsko¨ldsvik, which is an island municipality, owns O¨rnsko¨ldsvik Port and Logistics AB, which undertakes port operations at O¨rnsko¨ldsvik public port, which includes the newly renovated port of Ko¨pmanholmen. Harbours where the company has a presence tend to be located in areas dominated by engineering, forestry, pulp and paper, which have become its speciality.

In 2014, the terminal operator handled 944,217 tonnes of dry bulk, which was an increase of 50 % compared with 2013. Mikael Johansson, the company’s managing director, notes that local forestry products generated higher volumes last year, while the port also saw more break bulk traffic in the form of wind turbines.

“In terms of dry cargo, about 70% of our traffic is in the form of long-term export contracts, while the remaining 30% is mostly long-term imports,” he says.

Significantly, the local cellulose mill is served almost exclusively by the company, while the local sawn timber industry directs around half of its output through O¨rnsko¨ldsvik Port, while the rest uses either other ports or is driven by road to end users.

“The majority of our imported volume comes in the form of logs for wood pulp, which are sourced in the Baltic and processed locally into cellulose,” says Johansson.

The port does not have an inland waterway connection, so other than road, just a few consignments of logs bound for pulping are moved by rail, he adds. 

In terms of vessels, restrictions imposed by the Swedish authorities mean that no vessel longer than 160 metres can access the port, while maximum draught is 10 metres, prompting Johansson to point out that vessels calling tend to be around 6,300dwt.

“Our portfolio of dry bulk commodities is fairly stable at the moment, and we are not actively pursuing any new ones,” he says.

The Port of Kalmar handled 608,005 tonnes of dry bulk last year, which was an increase of 24.5%. This trend has continued into the first quarter of this year, with the port registering a further 19% increase.

Asked what had produced such positive figures, production manager Jonas Petersson attributes the upsurge in traffic to, “Strong economic development in the regional forestry industry, as well as a growing UK market.”

Forestry products, particularly wood chips, are the main drivers of Kalmar’s burgeoning traffic, with around 30% of dry bulk traffic being imported and the remaining 70% outbound, much of which is shipped domestically.

Quizzed as to how much of the existing traffic is “captive” to Kalmar, Petersson says that, as in all business, this is up to the customer. However, there is an agricultural plant located in the port that sucks in imports, amounting to 120,000 tonnes annually.

“At the moment, all of the dry bulk traffic that we handle has to move by road, since our rail link is no longer operational. This is a temporary measure, although its reopening is down entirely to the railway company’s policy,” he says.

As for the type of vessel currently calling at Kalmar, those transporting dry bulk tend to be no larger than 6,000dwt, although Petersson says this very much depends on the receiving or despatching port. Draught is currently restricted to 7.3 metres in the Sound of Kalmar, although the port authority has started a process to increase this to around 11 metres, mainly due to a request from the oil terminal.

Finally, in terms of investment to attract new commodities, he says that there are no plans to do this at the moment. Nevertheless, he stresses that stevedores in the port have become highly specialized in the handling of bulk cargo and all of them are aware of the low value of the goods.

“We therefore seek to minimize any extra costs for the customer, drawing upon our handling experience and customer care,” he says.

The west coast port of Uddevalla reported dry bulk volume amounting to approximately 650,000 tonnes last year, which customer service manager Dag Paulsson says is equivalent to growth of around 20%.

“A lot of that is due to the dollar/kronor exchange rate, while one of our main customers increased the amount of volume they were importing,” he says, adding that 2014 also saw growth in the amount of grain handled.

As for the current year, Paulsson says the port authority has budgeted for a similar volume as last year, although this pretty much depends on the strength of grain exports during the harvest season.

Indeed, Uddevalla handles around 200,000 tonnes of grain annually, with little variation from one year to the next. Ore, though, is growing, reaching 250,000 tonnes in 2014. Salt traffic was negatively impacted by last year’s mild winter, although stone consignments are on the increase.

“Around 95% of existing traffic is very much dedicated to Uddevalla,” says Paulsson, noting that no value added services are provided within the confines of the port, with all consignments handled by road.

The largest dry bulk vessels to call at the port are in the 45,000 gross weight tonnage range, something which is dictated by both air draught and water depth.

In respect of new dry bulk commodities, Paulsson says the port authority is interested in attracting energy commodities, such as wood chips and olive stones.

In 2014, the Port of Halland handled approximately 400,000 tonnes of dry bulk, equivalent to growth of 4%. According to port spokesperson Jonas Paulson, the main dry bulk activity in the port is accounted for by sawn timber, pulp and recycling materials.

“Glass producer Pilkington moved its operations from Halland in2013,althoughglassandmetalproducerArdagh increased its production last year,” Paulson explains.

Around 40% of existing traffic — that generated by Viking Malt is thought to be captive to the port.

Landside movement of dry bulk is mainly by road, although 25% is transported by rail, with the port stressing it wants to improve this.

“The largest ships we receive are of around 29,000 tonnes. This is dictated by the draught. However, we are trying to attract more types of dry bulk to the port,” said Paulson.

The Port of Trelleborg is Sweden’s most southerly maritime facility. Communication manager, Agneta Nilsson, explains that dry bulk does not figure much in its portfolio of goods, with ro/ro dominating and only very few conventional bulk carriers handled.

“However, what dry bulk we have is generated by local farmers and consists of both grain and fertilizer,” she says.

Grain traffic in 2013 amounted to just 22,843 tonnes, falling to 12, 499 tonnes. For 2015, 12,499 tonnes has so far been handled. As for fertilizer, this had a good 2014, with traffic amounting to 4,200 tonnes, up from the 3,025 tonnes registered the previous year.  

 Cimbria continues supplying installations for Scandinavia’s bulk industry 

Cimbria is a supplier of high-quality bulk handling equipment, primarily within grain and seeds, but also within other industries such as foodstuff, animal feed, biomass and a large variety of industrial products. The company has in-depth knowledge within the design and construction of projects and special installations for storage and conveying bulk cargoes. This vast experience is constantly being put to use in developing new solutions which meet the demands of authorities and users for functionality, quality and environmentally friendly operation.

The solutions from Cimbria are always individual solutions developed in close co-operation with the clients. Their needs and demands define the overall parameters and Cimbria makes the ends come together in simple, practical and operational solutions based on in-depth experience with the business area.

When looking at solutions for the Scandinavian market, Cimbria can refer to a wide selection of installations for different applications, including the supply of storage systems and various conveying equipment.


Through a business partner of many years, Falkenberg Silo Montage (FSM) in Sweden, Cimbria Unigrain received an enquiry at the beginning of 2014 for the establishment of a raw product storage facility for Svenska Foder AB in A°hus, Sweden.

Svenska Foder wanted a proposal for the most efficient way of filling the different types of raw product that are regularly received from ships into the raw product hall for animal feed production. The capacity had to be 300tph (tonnes per hour) — 450m3ph (cubic metres per hour). Following a number of meetings with Svenska Foder, Cimbria received a signed delivery agreement in March.

Cimbria delivery:


  • detailed design, project management and documentation; 
  • delivery of equipment and control unit;
  • erection management (erection carried out by FSM); and 
  • running-in and hand-over.


Design of the plant:

According to a requirement from the port authorities, the feed hopper on the quay must be able to be moved by a forklift truck when ships were not unloading product to the raw product hall.

The product is led from the feed hopper to a chain conveyor and a screw conveyor that feeds the intake elevator, which in turn delivers the product down to a weighing device, a cascade magnet and onwards to the fixed longitudinal conveyor belt. The 

ixed longitudinal conveyor belt delivers the product in the middle of the hall to the mobile conveyor belt. The ends of the mobile conveyor belt can thus fill the hall in the longitudinal direction. In order to fill the hall in the optimum manner in the transverse direction, the product is delivered to a mobile transverse conveyor belt.

This facility in A°hus can be added to the numerous other plants that Cimbria Unigrain has previously delivered to Svenska Foder.

Cimbria has supplied conveying equipment to Syklus, Fredrikstad, Norway. This equipment was designed to convey the crushed glass to the processing furnaces, where the crushed, ground glass is transformed at high temperature to Glasopor foam glass. Glasopor is a heat-insulating and sound-insulating material that can be used in various insulation tasks.

There has been great demand for this product, which means 

that the current finished goods stock facility is to be freed up for expansion of the production facilities. As a result thereof, a large outdoor stock facility will be established in 2014/2015.

In connection with the expansion of production facilities, Cimbria has also been charged with delivering conveying equipment, steel structures, electrical systems, motor cabinets and control systems. The conveying equipment consists of approximately 200m of various types of belt conveyors, of which the distribution belts are fitted in a 115m-long lattice structure at a height of 20m.

The hammer mill in Køge, Denmark, grinds grain 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, which means that good, reliable machinery is required.

As a result, Cimbria has delivered and installed a new plant for reception of grain. The new plant includes chain conveyors,

bucket elevators, baffle plate weigher, sampler, magnetic separator, Delta cleaner and new pipework with a capacity of 100tph.

The plant in Køge grinds wheat and rye in particular, but also other types of grain and species such as white wheat and spelt are processed.

In connection with the installation of the new equipment for grain reception, the company has taken the opportunity to replace three existing loading chutes with newer models, i.e. three Moduflex type S300TSMJ loading chutes replacing a number of Moduflex loading chutes from 1992.

The Moduflex loading chutes are manufactured in accordance with EU regulation no. 1935/04, and thus meet all requirements concerning contact with foodstuffs. 

Cimbria was established in 1947 and is today an international organization with 800 employees in 15 companies throughout the world. Cimbria offers equipment and processing plants for the grain and seed industry and transport and conveying equipment for bulk handling. 

No more high fuel bills — Mantsinen 70 ER 

Ege Celik steel mill in Aliag?a,Turkey has been using three electrically powered Mantsinen 70 ER material handlers since 2013. Two of the machines work in the port, unloading steel scrap from incoming ships, and one at the Ege Celik steel mill.

Ege Celik also has three older diesel powered Mantsinen material handlers. When Ege Celik was acquiring new machines in 2012 and 2013, a strong emphasis was on energy costs. Mantsinen responded with the 70 ER, an 85 tonne crawler type machine with electric motor and a side-mounted power cable.

The machines have substantially more lifting capacity than the older diesel-powered machines, but they save approximately 70% of energy cost and have zero emissions. “Other important advantages are a remarkable reduction in maintenance costs as the electric motor needs practically no service, and the total absence of fuel refilling,” says the steel mill purchasing supervisor Mesut Cebeci.

All three machines have the Mantsinen Diesel Power Pack to enable the machine to move from one electric outlet to another.

Mobility of the machines with this configuration, especially in the port application, is no problem at all. The machine at the steel mill has a longer power cable, and the cable is protected against falling objects by a special cover.

All machines are equipped with Mantsinen orange peel grab.