Metal multiples – Port Strategy
30 Oct 2016
Going in: loading dozers into the holds can improve handling rates. Credit: Solent Stevedores S Norton
Take the heat off and scrap handling can be a lucrative niche cargo, explains John Bensalhia
What do we think of when considering value? Pieces of silver, perhaps. A hefty bag of gold coins, for sure.
But sometimes, other sources of value can bring their own rewards too. Antique pieces can turn out to be incredibly rare and valuable items worthy of collection. Those old toys or comics up in the loft may be of much more worth than you realise.
And then there’s scrap. The total value of the export scrap trade to the UK economy is around ?250m, which equals opportunities for the nation’s ports and terminals. As an example, scrap import and (primarily) export is a major trade for Solent Stevedores Ltd, which operates the Southampton Bulk Terminal under a long term licensing agreement with port owners, ABP.
At Southampton, Solent’s client is S Norton & Co, one of the UK’s leading scrap companies. S Norton processes and exports more than 1m tonnes of scrap per year via the ports of Southampton and Liverpool out of a total UK scrap export figure of around 6m tonnes. S Norton is responsible for receiving and exporting cargoes of scrap metal and the company works in close partnership with Solent Stevedores who provide loading services.
Handling points There are a number of important considerations to take on board when it comes to handling scrap. Ray Facey, commercial manager at Solent Stevedores, says that one of the most important of these is to make sure that the quality of the scrap is both uniform and acceptable to the customer. “The cargo to be loaded has to meet international standards.
An independent inspection company is jointly appointed to certify that the cargo being loaded meets international specification and a surveyor will be in attendance throughout the loading of the vessel.” “Efficient arrangement of material along the quay is also a crucial factor to consider for scrap handling,” adds Roger Morton, managing director of S Norton. “Quay storage needs to be arranged in the most practical way in order to receive and lay out cargo in reach of quayside cranes and in relation to available loading space on ship.” “To minimise cost and maximise speed of loading the vessel scrap, cargoes need to be received on the quay in the optimum sequence and placed in the correct position opposite the expected locations of the hold openings, thereby avoiding double handling before or during loading.
Sometimes stockpiled scrap is moved around the quay before the vessel arrives to meet loading requirements,” says Mr Facey. Florian Attenhauser, Sennebogen’s PR manager/international marketing, lists a number of important considerations for port operators: “Fast cycles, long reach, continuous handling operations, plus saving money and energy.” He says that energy recovery systems and electric drives can go some way to addressing these considerations. Metal dangers
However, scrap can be a hazardous cargo to handle. Piles of scrap are potentially combustible – with one such example making the news at the Japanese Fukuoka Port. Here, the Chinese general cargo ship, Tian Feng 3 caught fire, as a result of the product in one of the holds: around 500 tons of scrap.
After four and a half hours, and a crew of 18 firefighting teams, helicopter, and tugs, the flames were finally controlled and ultimately extinguished. While there were no casualties nor risk of water pollution, the product was badly damaged. Port operators handling scrap must therefore ensure that the piles are regularly and carefully monitored to ensure that fires are avoided.
Another must is to turn the scrap piles so that they don’t heat up in the centre. Port operators must make sure that the right level of checks and controls are performed and that adequate fire suppressant systems are present in case of emergencies. Operator safety is another crucial aspect of scrap handling.
Mr Attenhauser suggests a number of ways to boost the safety of the operator: “Overview with camera systems and lighting system, easy entry to cab with sliding door, and easy access to upper-carriage thanks to platforms, railings and galleries. Optional solutions are bullet-proven windows or a steel mesh guard.” To ensure safe and efficient vessel loading, high-rise quay loading equipment is especially beneficial.
Ray Facey explains that this is because it can reach down into the base of the hold and place material carefully on the floor of the hold. “High-rise equipment operators are carefully trained. It can take several years of operating more conventional equipment before they are cleared to use the ship loading cranes.
The loading method is carefully controlled and includes a procedure where a layer of several metres of steel scrap is placed into the hold carefully at a slower rate to create a cushion layer prior to loading the remainder of the load at full rate. The ship’s ladders, hatchways and coamings are protected by thick rubber matting.” A hatchwayman is positioned at each working hold, communicating directly via radio with the crane drivers during the loading process.
Meanwhile, strict attention is given to segregating pedestrians from operational equipment on the quayside. “All non-operational staff, such as those representing cargo interests, port officials, agents or crew have to be signed in and are advised of safety procedures applicable on board and quayside,” says Mr Facey. Growth expected With manufacturers providing a wide range of equipment, the scrap handling world is constantly developing to ensure that this sector will continue to perform well.
Looking ahead, Mr Facey says: “In future, we expect that larger plants and machinery, specifically tailored to individual operations will be the order of the day.” Roger Morton comments: “We work closely with our scrap handling equipment manufacturers on innovation of their products. This particularly applies to the design of our high rise cranes and grabs.”
Environmental factors and regulations are also being taken into consideration, as Mr Facey explains: “On the quayside, as a requirement of increasing environmental regulations, provision has been made for specially designed drainage which includes catch pits and interceptors to capture any contaminated water run off.” The future of scrap handling for ports looks to be especially healthy, with expected growth for export volumes in the country. “UK scrap export volumes are expected to grow in future years,” says S Nortons’ Mr Morton. “Partly because commercial properties including office buildings and factories and other products made with steel during the high economic growth period of the past 50 years, are now reaching end of life – and partly because the UK steel industry has contracted dramatically thereby reducing domestic demand for scrap.” He adds that some scrap cargo is containerised as a result of the low freight rates caused by the imbalance of UK trade and the consequential availability of empty containers returning to Asia. “However, most of the container trade relates to non-ferrous products and bulk deep-sea transport remains the most competitive route for export of ferrous scrap from most locations.”
Mr Norton concludes: “It is universally accepted that recycling is the most environmentally friendly way to protect the planet and the continued movement of scrap metal through UK ports is an important link in the global circular economy for metals.”
THE MECHANICS OF SCRAP HANDLING
The burgeoning world of scrap handling equipment and machinery has considerably helped ports to realise the full potential of this sector. One such example is the Sennebogen 835 material handler, which is used by Stena Recycling AB in Sweden, among others. The 835 boasts a 164kW diesel engine, handling equipment and a multi-shell grab that has a maximum range of 17m.
Furthermore, operators of the 835 can benefit from the comfortable and elevating Maxcab that can be moved vertically by 2.7m to ensure a bird’s eye overview during truck loading and shredder feeding. The Sennebogen 830 material handler is another notable example – one favoured by Dutch company HKS Metals – offering a 17m range and viewing height of 4.2m. Because of the 830’s electric drive, this affords more benefits.
From an environmental view, this means 50% lower energy/operating costs and notably lower noise emissions. From an operational viewpoint, the 830 is also durable and also has longer maintenance intervals and operation without refuelling. Solent Stevedores uses a range of equipment solutions for scrap handling.
The company’s Ray Facey says that these include large capacity, harbour mobile rope grab cranes which are used to load cargo at safely and efficiently. Additionally, S Norton has invested significantly in high-rise Liebherr grab cranes, which can reach into the corners of the vessel hold in order to maximise stowage. The bulk terminal also uses tracked dozers which are lowered into the ship’s hold to compress cargo in order to increase cargo load figures.
“The complementary provision and utilisation of the high capacity rope cranes with the high rise grab cranes and regular compaction with dozers provides the best solution for loading cargoes of scrap with high bulk density and at high loading rates,” says Mr Facey.