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Mechanical CSUs on the rebound?

Since the downturn in commodity prices, times have been tough for mechanical CSU sales, but lately there has been a rally.

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Shenhua Logistics has ordered two rail-mounted Siwertell screw-type unloaders
Shenhua Logistics has ordered two rail-mounted Siwertell screw-type unloaders

Lower demand for metallurgical and thermal coal in the years after 2010 was bound to hurt suppliers of mechanical continuous shiploaders/unloaders (CSUs). But this was compounded by a global construction slowdown that hit the other staple commodity that CSUs handle, cement.


In grain handling, too, growing competition from pneumatic CSUs has not made life any easier for their mechanical screw or chain counterparts.


But there was something of a recovery in 2016, which has continued into this year, albeit with most of the known orders being won by Cargotec’s Siwertell division.


Most recently, Siwertell signed a contract with a Spanish-Korean consortium, TR-Samsung, for a ship-unloader to support a new biomass-fuelled power plant under construction in Teesside, UK. Delivery will take place in October 2018.

Limited space meant that the structural footprint of the unloader had to be as small as possible, while the tail-end of the gantry had to be able to move aside to allow passage behind the equipment.

To meet the tight specifications, Siwertell provided extensive references of its ability to do so, said Peter Goransson, sales manager and senior advisor. “It was crucial that the high-capacity fuel delivery system overcame the challenges of safety, cargo degradation and environmental impact,” he commented.

“Important factors included compliance with environmental directives, a proven track record of good reliability and safety, high throughvessel discharge rates, and the ability to handle sensitive products with minimal cargo degradation or breakages.”

Siwertell will deliver a tailormade, rail-mounted ST 790-type D unloader, which will be installed close to the 299 MW plant in Teesport. It will discharge wood pellets and wood chips to a matched Siwertell jetty conveyor with a moveable transfer trolley, supplied as part of the contract.

Safety first

The firm’s biomass unloaders are also equipped with a new-generation safety system to mitigate the risks of fire and dust explosion when handling biomass in an enclosed space.

The unloader has a rated average capacity of 1,200 tph, and a maximum rate of 1,320 tph, designed to meet the plant’s requirements of 16,000t per day. It is equipped with a dual truck loading system for continuous direct loading at a rate of 300 tph. This is a redundancy feature that allows operations to continue if the shore conveying system fails.

In China, Siwertell secured an order from Beijing-based Shenhua Logistics Group Corporation Ltd for two rail-mounted ST 790-D screw type unloaders. The unloaders are destined for use by Suizhong Power Generation Co Ltd, and will support the company’s power plant expansion plans in Qiansuo, Suizhong County. Delivery is scheduled for March 2018.

The plant currently receives most of its coal by rail, sourced from Shenhua’s own coal mines. However, expansion plans include building a new jetty to increase coal deliveries arriving by sea. The unloaders will discharge coal from vessels of up to 50,000 dwt at a rated capacity of 1,500 tph for each unloader.

Siwertell sales manager Ola Jeppsson said the customer chose the totally enclosed screw-type technology because it needed to provide a clean, efficient operation with minimal environmental impact.

“Having identified the technology it wanted, Suizhong turned to Siwertell because we are the leading supplier of this type of unloader,” he explained. “The light weight of our machines minimises the loads on the jetty. Consequently, the customer will benefit from significant savings in jetty construction costs.

The unloaders will be fully assembled at Siwertell’s sub-contractor’s premises in Nantong.

The units will then be shipped by specialist vessel to the Suizhong power plant, where they will be unloaded onto rail tracks installed on the new jetty. The units will be handed over to their owners following performance tests and final commissioning.

Repeat orders

Siwertell is also still finding steady demand for its roadmobile ship-unloaders. An undisclosed client signed an order for a 10 000 S trailerbased, diesel-powered unit that will be used to unload cement at a rated capacity of 300 tph. It joins an existing 10 000 S that the customer has been operating successfully since 2015.

“This contract adds to our growing list of repeat orders for road-mobile units,” explained Jörgen Ojeda, director of mobile unloaders. “The customer is very satisfied with the performance and reliability of its existing unit, and turning to Siwertell technology once again was not a difficult decision.

“Customers like the operational flexibility that these machines offer, particularly for discharging ships at multiple locations. The road-mobile unit is an excellent choice in this case because the customer does not have its own terminal. It rents space at an available jetty when a cement vessel is due.”

The unloader is completely autonomous, and does not require any installations on the jetty. The firm claims it is quick and easy to deploy and, when the unloading operation is finished, the unit is folded up and driven back to the customer’s premises ready for its next job. The dust-free operation means that there are no jetty clean-up costs.

The new unit is equipped with a dust filter and a double-bellows system, allowing uninterrupted discharge when changing between trucks or rail wagons.

A Takraf CSU will handle iron ore at Pecem port in Brazil
A Takraf CSU will handle iron ore at Pecem port in Brazil

Service deal


A service contract covers both units. This includes two inspection and service visits each year, along with remote support and troubleshooting via modem connection. It also provides discounts for spare parts.


“Our service contracts provide a cost-effective way for owners to protect their investments and get the best results from them,” said Ojeda.


Another repeat order sees Kuwait-based company Acico Construction take up its third road-mobile cement unloader. Similar to the last delivery in 2015, the unloader is a trailerbased, diesel-powered 10 000 S unit. Fitted with dust filters and a double bellows system, it has a rated capacity of 300 tph. Acico also operates a Siwertell 5 000 S unit, which was delivered in 2014.


“Acico initially enjoyed positive experiences operating Siwertell equipment belonging to third parties,” said Ojeda. “This was an important factor in helping the company decide that it would like to own and operate its own unit.”


Acico Construction, part of Acico Industries Company, was founded in 1990, and has experienced sustained and steady growth. Its third Siwertell unit was ordered so that the company can focus operations on the increasing number of larger vessels, up to 10,000 dwt, that it now handles. It operates in Kuwait’s second largest port Shuaiba, located south of Kuwait City.


Although these unloaders were originally developed for handling cement, they can comfortably handle a wide variety of dry bulk materials. Ojeda said that efficiency and reliability of the Siwertell units are the main reasons for repeat orders.


“We are also being approached by first time customers looking to prioritise quality, long-term efficiency, performance and reliability over a marginally cheaper alternative investment,” Ojeda continued. “In the long run, a lower-priced system might prove to be considerably more expensive, as a result of lower efficiencies, greater downtime and higher maintenance costs.”


The maintenance support contract, signed in 2015, covers Acico’s first two units, and includes an ongoing training element for Acico maintenance staff, covering mechanical and electrical systems and instrumentation.


Brazil boom


Tenova Takraf completed the delivery of a CSU to handle iron ore at the Port of Pecem, Brazil. The turnkey contract was awarded by the infrastructure department (SEINFRA in its Portuguese acronym) of the state of Ceará, in northeast Brazil.


The unit has a nominal capacity of 2,400 tph and is able to unload vessels up to 125,000 dwt. It is equipped with a bucket-chain elevator around 35m in height, and a slewing/lifting boom, which includes the transfer conveyor, for a total length of 42m. The discharge on the conveyor jetty is via a vibrating feeder, a solution that has already proved successful on other machines.


The advantages of this system include being more compact, and hence reducing the height of the machine – an important factor, given that the jetty conveyors are more elevated than usual.


Design and construction of the CSU was carried out by Takraf in Italy, while the firm’s China office oversaw all matters related to complete manufacturing and assembly of the machine. Finally, Takraf Brazil was responsible for all local project activities up to commissioning.


The contract award was Takraf’s first from SEINFRA, and was won as a result of a number of factors. Since the CSU was to be installed in an area close to the city, the client placed specific emphasis on limiting environmental impact, and selected Takraf’s machine for its various environmentally friendly solutions. One of these relates to the fact that the material flow is totally enclosed, with the ‘digging foot’ operating within the ship’s hold, and discharging material through transfer chutes, maximising dust suppression and noise reduction.

The advantages of road-mobile unloaders include their operational flexibility
The advantages of road-mobile unloaders include their operational flexibility

1980s heritage


Takraf developed the bucketchain CSU in the 1980s, and has subsequently supplied more than 15 machines to date worldwide, with a variety of technological improvements having been applied to each new machine.


The most sophisticated part of the machine is the articulated-type digging foot, for which Takraf Italy owns the patent. Through the coordinated movement of dedicated hydraulic cylinders, the component can modify its geometric configuration to obtain optimal bucket filling, and to reach the walls of the ship’s hatches to remove residual material.


Recent contract wins for bucket-chain CSUs include ENEL (the main Italian power station in Brindisi and Civitavecchia) and ILVA (Taranto Iron & Steel Works).


Once the manufacturing and assembly process was concluded, the unit (machine body and elevator) was moved within China’s Tianjin harbour, from a private to a public quay, through a special barge and crane vessel, to allow for the mooring of a specialised transport vessel. The greatest challenge facing the project was, in fact, the transport of the CSU, which weighs 1,800t, almost fully erected from China to Brazil. The operation was concluded within the expected transit time of 35 days.


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