With varying market demand for the movement of general cargo through ports and terminals, operators are often left with underutilized infrastructure. In extreme cases, infrastructure is completely abandoned due to a significant drop in cargo volumes. Both cases affect the bottom line.
In recent years a number of container or break bulk operations have entertained the idea of diversifying into handling bulk cargos over their dock, and while this has brought additional revenues, it comes with its own set of challenges. Depending on the source of the cargo, on-site covered storage is often required to receive trucks, and loading ships requires mobile conveying equipment which needs to be moved on/off the dock. While this is a completely viable system, it also requires additional clean-up efforts, and can expose the risk of environmental contamination.
Containerized bulk handling, an alternative technology that is growing in popularity, facilitates the movement of bulk cargo from source to ship without the need to provide interim bulk storage facilities at the terminal. This system utilizes specialized open top containers that are provided with locking lids to allow easy filling and sealing of the containers at the source, and their standard ISO footprint makes them easy to transport by truck or train to the terminal site. Because they are sealed from the environment, they can be stacked at the terminal and used as temporary quayside storage for the bulk cargo until enough containers are accumulated to load a ship. When ready for loading, containers are moved to the dock by truck and lifted into the hold of a bulk carrier using either a mobile harbour crane or even ship’s gear using a specialized rotary spreader unit. This spreader will automatically lift the lid from the top, and then rotate the container upside down to dump the cargo into the hold. As the unit is returned to the dock, the lid is replaced on the empty container and a new one is picked up to repeat the process.
This system offers a relatively low capital investment option to handle bulk cargos over a general cargo or container dock. It not only offers diversification that improves utilization of assets and increased revenue, it is fully flexible to be moved between dock operations or the assets sold to others when core business improves.
For more information on how we can help you increase berth utilization with this alternative technology, please visit our Transportation & Logistics page.