In this live case study, Lion Bulk Handling has visited a customer in South Europe which acquired a pneumatic ship-unloader more than ten years ago and requested a tuning and tweaking visit by one of its field engineers. During its lifetime operation, the equipment undergone normal wear and tear and lost performance over time. The goal was to determine how much performance could be gained back. By following the steps below, performance was increased by 11%.

The visit was executed in multiple stages:

  • general walkaround on the unloader making sure that there are no visual leakages like oil and water, no abnormal noises/vibrations,  instrumentation/electrical cables still in place;
  • read-out and clear the PLC internal alarm history;
  • manually operate each individual valve for making sure that the valves operate and confirms back to the PLC its current/correct position;
  • as the unloader is based on an operation via a vacuum and compression, the system has been pressure tested to find any internal leakages;
  • commence unloading operations
  • taking data like: suction pressure, filling times, pressurization times, discharge pressure and convey times per cycle over a couple of batched for gaining an average of each;
  • based on the data out of step 6, determine if the filling and discharge cycles are within balance or one of them need/can be adjusted to gain overall better performance
  • in this case the filling (suction) was not ideal as the unloader was conveying 16 batches in 20 minutes, which equals 48 batches per hour;
  • by tuning the hardware and optimizing the unloader operator skills it was able to increase performance into 18 batches per 20 minutes, equals 54 batches per hour (increase of 11%).



By executing this service visit, the complete turnaround of unloading the vessel was for this customer now 11% faster, which equals six hours less of operational costs like:


  • fuel;
  • labour;
  • running hours of equipment; v maintenance intervals;
  • downtime of the vessel;
  • etc.


By regularly performing the correct inspections or tuning and tweaking visits, such equipment can be maintained in good condition, which results in a very fast return on investment and reduces overall operational costs.