Already long established as one of the Ohio River’s premier port terminals, new ownership brought new equipment opportunities for the busy River Road Terminal in the transportation hub of Louisville.

Within weeks of Watco Terminal and Port Services acquiring the third-generation family-owned business in the spring of 2016, modified excavators used for unloading barges “as a stopgap measure” were replaced by two purpose-built SENNEBOGEN mobile material handlers. “Excavators aren’t really what we need to use,” explains Paul Lawson, Terminal Manager, a 34-year veteran of the facility who heads up the 11-member Louisville team that remained pretty much intact during the ownership transition. “The motion of the excavator versus the long boom and the clamshell of the SENNEBOGEN is just not conducive to the type of work we do here.”

The type of work Lawson and his crew do in Louisville is the unloading of bulk material such as fertilizer, salt, coke and assorted coal types like anthracite and lignite. The materials are loaded either directly into trucks or, in the case of fertilizer, into hoppers for storage and later distribution. The River Road Terminal is in a prime location within a half-mile of Interstate 71 that, with its nearby intersection with both Interstates 65 and 64, can facilitate quick and simple material distribution in all directions of Middle America.

In an “average” month, the single-shift Louisville operation will unload a brisk 40,000 tons of material at the terminal’s expansive 1,250 ft. (381 m) of Ohio River frontage, which can accommodate three barges at once.

SENNEBOGEN material handlers suit the site

Having worked with other Watco facilities in the region, Brandeis Machinery, the local SENNEBOGEN dealer, surveyed the River Road Terminal yard to properly outfit the 35-acre facility on Louisville’s busy east side.

In order to maximize production at the Louisville site’s riverfront, to which machines can strategically sit within 10 ft., the resulting equipment solution was the duo of a rebuilt SENNEBOGEN 850 M and a new SENNEBOGEN 860 M. The mobile material handlers are equipped with 3 and 5 yd3 clamshell buckets respectively.

The hydraulic elevated cabs on the wheeled machines provide the operators with a clear view into the barge hold, supported by cameras outfitted to each unit’s boom. With skid-steer loaders cleaning up inside the barges while the SENNEBOGEN material handlers reach in from the shore, “it’s all about safety,” explains Lawson.

The ability to position the machine “close to the pool” further helps keep things tidy at the facility, says Lawson. The site is serviced by a pair of wheel loaders, in addition to the two skid-steer loaders and two SENNEBOGEN material handlers.

SENNEBOGEN fits expanding future needs

The SENNEBOGEN 860 M not only offers the additional heft to handle the fertilizer needs of today, but has additional production opportunities that Lawson is planning to pursue once the River Road Terminal site completes an ongoing physical reorganization. For example, with a quick attachment change, the machine will come in handy for handling wire rod.

The SENNEBOGEN 850 M, with about 11,000 hours of service, was rebuilt by Brandeis Machinery. Beyond regular preventive maintenance which Watco conducts itself, the terminal will rely on Brandeis for all service of both SENNEBOGEN machines, says Lawson.

With an ever-growing network of facilities, the Watco Terminal and Port Services division of Watco Companies LLC is a leader in bulk, break-bulk and liquids rail/truck transloading, as well as railroad switching, warehousing, liquid tank storage, and barge and vessel loading/unloading. The company’s ports and terminals handle more than 350 different products including dry bulk, waste materials, chemicals and crude oil, always handled in the most safe, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly manner.


SENNEBOGEN has been a leading name in the global material-handling industry for over 65 years. Based in Stanley, North Carolina, within the greater Charlotte region, SENNEBOGEN LLC offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any material-handling application. Established in America in the year 2000, SENNEBOGEN LLC has quickly become a leading provider of specialized equipment solutions for recycling and scrap metal yards, demolition, barge and port operations, log-handling, transfer stations and waste facilities from coast to coast. A growing network of distributors supports SENNEBOGEN LLC sales and service across the Americas, ensuring the highest standard of professional machine support and parts availability.