Question: is a loading shovel a lifting device or a transport tool? The usual answer is ‘both’ but this is a response that does not fully take into account the mechanics of the equipment. Of course, it can both lift and travel, but the distances involved are the real driver on the efficiencies of the equipment. Fully laden from ship-to-shed, the transmission is running hot and unladen on the return to the vessel, the load is absent from the front and maximum weight is over the steer axle, punishing the king pins and accelerating tyre wear. So, distance will eventually degrade machines and besides, if distance from the vessel to the shed is significant, this really isn’t the most effective way in terms of cost, labour, maintenance and the environment.
This is where Cooper Specialised Handling’s Smart Port ideology becomes paramount as it brings real differences into the methodology of landside operations in order it can both maintain the discharge speed and yet, at the same time discharge into store in the most cost-effective manner. It reduces CO2 emissions and ensures expensive equipment is not being over-used or punished thus reducing maintenance costs.
The introduction of high-speed hydraulic cranes, whilst delivering huge productivity, brings challenges in the need to discharge from the quay at the same rate as that of the crane. Rope cranes have traditionally discharged at a rate of 300tph (tonnes per hour) and landside has been able to comfortably match that, but new hydraulic cranes can typically discharge at 800 to 1,400tph, so an imbalance occurs and invariably, the very quick crane needs to idle to allow landside to catch up.
The ideology of Cooper Smart Port therefore aligns the speed of landside with that of the crane which involves some technological and some process changes. One example of technological advance ment is an accurate crane-mounted weigh scale that interfaces with the customer’s own CRM software and recorded via the on-board telematics system. This eliminates the bottleneck associated with weigh bridges and it can be done accumulatively using the handling equipment thus removing a process in the chain and speeding productivity by driving straight to the store.
As David Cooper of Coopers explains “We are noticing the cranes are having to wait for landside operations to catch-up. We need an intermediate system that the crane can continue discharging even if landside transiting equipment is not present. This intermediate holding or buffer will consist of 80t tipping trailers mounted on translifters. Tractors then shuttle the translifters whilst the crane continues unloading into a parked tipping trailer, without translifter, which keeps the unloading process moving”.
However, is not only speed that is the benefit here. Studies suggest there are cost benefits too and, as the process is not burning as much fuel as traditional methods, carbon output is significantly cut. According to mathematical studies carried out by Cooper, they believe discharge of bulk can be completed in half the time at one-quarter of the cost with less than one-third of the carbon emissions. Importantly, it ensures equipment is working comfortably within their operational capabilities and not being overstretched which will enhance equipment longevity. Transport equipment is thus undertaking the transport and lifting equipment is doing the lifting. Maintenance costs are reduced and as Cooper points out “One tipping trailer will transport the equivalent of 16 loading shovels. That is one journey versus 16 journeys. One operator, not four operators and one quarter of the CO2 emissions for the same unit volume”
Carbon can be further reduced by the whole process being fully electric and yet more savings can be made if the distance can be covered by link-conveyors to the storage hall. Link conveyors are cost effective and require minimal labour to operate them. Conveyors bring added advantages in loading the stack from the top thus eliminating the need for the loading shovel to adopt a 10m long ‘pusher’ blade whereby 30% of what is pushed settles back. This is a waste of resource, energy, cost and, eventually degrades the commodity.
As David Cooper points out, there is a simple rule in materials handling, “Each time the product is handled it costs money and wastes time — handling needs to be minimized and with it speed of throughput will increase and costs reduce — Cooper Smart Port is simply implementing these basic principles.”