Back to business – HOIST magazine


Breakbulk Americas, which focuses on the project cargo and breakbulk industry, is returning to Houston this month. Jenny Eagle highlights a number of companies exhibiting at the show and looks at their latest news. Breakbulk Americas will return to the George R.

Brown Center in Houston, from September 27-29, enabling business transactions and lead generation for the project cargo and breakbulk market in Canada, the US, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. With a resurging project market throughout the region, there is no better time to become a part of the Breakbulk Americas community. For example, exhibitor, Houston-based UTC Overseas, international freight forwarder and logistics provider recently announced it is partnering with Guyana Shore Base Inc. (GYSBI) expanding its logistics operations in Guyana, offering operators project forwarding, warehousing, distribution and shore-based services, along with air, ocean and land transportation and customs clearance.

GYSBI's 130-acre supply base on the Demerara River, close to Georgetown, provides shore-based management and logistics services for ExxonMobil and other oil and gas operators in the region. According to UTC, the venture will give customers "boots-on-the-ground" local knowledge alongside a global network with expertise in turnkey, greenfield and large-scale energy projects. "UTC's reputation in the oil and gas market will open doors with existing and prospective customers," said Steve Ross- Munro, UTC's regional director in charge of business development. "Working with our extensive office network and partnering with GYSBI, we will collaborate to expand opportunities with customers worldwide, relying on the trusted experience and knowledge base that has driven both companies' success."

In less than a decade, Guyana has emerged as one of the world's most exciting hot spots for offshore crude oil exploration, with estimated recoverable resources of more than 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent. A string of major offshore discoveries led by ExxonMobil could see the former British colony, with its population of just 790,000, becoming the world's top per capita oil producer by the end of the decade. ExxonMobil, alongside partners Hess and CNOOC, expects to be producing more than 800,000 barrels of oil and gas per day from the 6.6-million-acre Stabroek block by 2025.

Stirred by ExxonMobil's success and the prospect of lower production costs as local infrastructure and expertise develops, other operators are entering the market, including Spain's Repsol, UK-based Tullow Oil and Canada's CGX Energy. "Guyana is a rapidly growing market, and joining with UTC is a natural progression for GYSBI to expand our service offering to our large existing client base," said Sean Hill, GM, GYSBI. "We will be able to provide full turnkey services from picking up equipment at a client's international base, transporting to and storing in Guyana, mobilizing it offshore and back again, and re-exporting those tools if needed. Our clients can now leave the full international and domestic transport headaches to us, allowing them to focus on delivering service quality to their clients offshore."

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), has also announced it is planning to spend £150m to boost vehicle and breakbulk handling capacity at the Port of Brunswick. Part of the investment will be used to build a fourth berth at the port's deepwater auto terminal, Colonel's Island. The berth will include a concrete deck and a system of mooring dolphins to extend roll-on, roll-off vessel berthing space from 3,355 feet to 4,630 feet, with completion expected to be in late 2024.

GPA is also adding 360,000 square feet of warehousing and 85 additional acres for auto processing, expanding the terminal's annual capacity from 1.2 million to 1.4 million vehicles. The new pavement and buildings are will be completed in 2023. After Baltimore, Brunswick is the second busiest hub for RoRo cargo in the US, last year moving 650,000 units of vehicles and heavy machinery, 10% up on 2020.

"Home to more than 20 automaker brands, Colonel's Island is poised to become the Southeast's premier autoport," said Joel Wooten, board chairman, GPA. "With more room to grow, better connections to inland markets, and an operation dedicated to RoRo cargo, Colonel's Island is the region's busiest gateway for autos and machinery." The breakbulk-handling Marine Port Terminals, operated by Logistec USA, is Brunswick's third deepwater terminal. Fagioli will also have a presence at the show this year, the company successfully relocated two Ship to Shore (STS) container cranes from Malta to Marseille recently.

The project consisted of loading two container STS cranes from Malta Freeport terminal and installing them on the newly refurbished quays of the Mourepiane terminal within the Grand Maritime Port of Marseille-Fos in France. Marseille also serves as the global headquarters of the CMA CGM Group, the new owner of the two cranes, built by ZPMC and commissioned in Malta in 2007. However, they have now been replaced by two Liebherr STS cranes offering increased height reach, enabling to unload increasingly imposing ships.

At the same time, Med Europe terminal was looking to strengthen its industrial base to support its growing container business. The CMA CGM Group therefore decided to use the capabilities of its subsidiary, CEVA Logistics, to transport the two cranes. CEVA's work in project logistics covers all aspects of the delivery and implementation of large-scale projects.

Thanks to its expertise, the speed of this transfer was crucial to this project and the entire transfer was managed through CEVA Logistics and its service provider, specialized in heavy haulage with experience in port handling equipment transfers. From the beginning of the project, the reservation of maritime transport was key and "Sun Rise" chartered by Panocean was chosen to provide the fastest and safest crossing possible. Once this parameter was achieved, the challenge was to carry out a complete structural study of the STS cranes.

It was necessary to provide both elements allowing land transport by SPMT, but also structural reinforcements for the sea crossing. The study was conducted in record time and validated by an external certification body in order to place an upfront order for the structural reinforcement parts needed for the project. In the context of the global climate amid tension in the steel market and fluctuating oil prices, this step was a major challenge for all the teams.

Work began on strengthening the STS Cranes in Malta at the beginning of the year. The STS cranes have large dimensions: 147 meters long, 27 meters wide and 79 meters high for a total weight of 1650 tons, therefore each gantry was equipped with steel brackets necessary for SPMT bearing points on the inner side. These brackets were also equipped with the lugs necessary to attach the 2.5 tonT bracings that attached the STS cranes to the ship deck.

On the outer side, lugs were welded onto the cranes. In total, 12 seizure points were welded to maintain each gantry. All moving parts that could deteriorate during transport were safely secured before the big departure.

The STS cranes were reinforced at the boom and in the transverse direction to avoid any structural deterioration during the tree day sea transfer. At the end of March, two sets of two 22 SPMT Cometto branded axle lines (88 lines in total) were assembled on the quays of Malta Freeport. The convoy included two transport beams dedicated to this project.

The set also incorporated a jacking system to offer an additional 600mm stroke necessary for the installation of the two STS cranes on grillage defined to limit the load of the STS cranes on the deck of the ship. Finally, in continuous operation, Fagioli then lifted, transferred and laid both STS cranes at the +700mm level compared to the initial level of the quay. Once set onboard the ship, the 24 bracings and the eight cross-braces were welded to the ship, and cables were put into tension.

After final check by the marine warranty surveyor, the ship set sail towards France. The "Sun Rise" moored on April 8, with the two STS cranes firmly anchored to the deck. During the three days of removal of the "XXL" seizure, the SPMT transport convoy was reconfigured, reinforced to two sets of three 22 SPMT axle lines (132 lines in total).

This configuration was necessary to meet a bearing capacity of the platforms of 4 ton/m2. In the end the two STS cranes were unloaded and placed on their final rails. The "ground side" rail was specially set up just a few weeks before as the 30m spacing of these two ZPMT STS cranes blithely exceeds the 16m spacing of the current STS cranes.

After their reconditioning and some adaptations, these two STS cranes are planned to be put back in service at the end of 2022. According to Philipp Helberg, senior marketing manager, Liebherr Maritime Cranes, Breakbulk Americas coincides with a major announcement launching the 'biggest transshipment crane it has ever built, which runs on all-electric drives'. As well as this, the company will be promoting its latest Liebherr mobile harbour crane series LHM, which is more digital and automated with a new crane control system, sensor technology and digital information transmission.

There will also be some additional product highlights presented at Breakbulk Americas including the Liebherr LiSIM simulator for mobile harbour cranes as well as news about its automated rail mounted gantry cranes (RMG) for CSX. Liebherr Container Cranes handed over three RMGs to the CSX Carolina Connector Intermodal Terminal (CCX) in Rocky Mount, North Carolina earlier this year. The cabinless RMGs are supplied with Liebherr Remote operator Stations (ROS) for supervised moves and exceptional handling.

The RMGs have a span of 165 ft. (50.292 m), a lift height over rail of 50 ft. (15.24 m) and cantilevered outreaches both sides with a safe working load of 40 long tons (40.6 tons). Within the span, the machines will work five rail lines and a four-high, five-wide container stack, with a further two rail lines under one of the cantilevers. Truck handling will take place under the other cantilever in a dedicated truck transfer area.

Container handling on the stack is fully automated and in line with terminal safety procedures, picking and placing from the rail cars is carried out remotely using supervised moves. Truck handling is a combination of manual and supervised moves. The RMGs will operate on domestic 53' wide top pick containers and ISO containers, handling single and double stacked rail cars.

Spanish company Elebia will be highlighting three products at Breakbulk Americas; its EVO Automatic Hooks: which improve productivity and safety in ports and breakbulk operations; its S40 Automatic Shackle and its C5 and C6 automatic horizontal lifting clamps for lifting and moving steel plates, beams or pipes. Jordi Picazo, business development manager, America, Elebia, explains that since the company invented the automatic hook in 2006, its customers have identified the need for smaller, lighter and more compact crane hooks. As a result, it has designed the evo2 automatic hook.

Weighing 7 kgs./15.43 lbs and with a working load limit of 2,500 kgs./5,511 lbs, the evo2 remote release hook has additional features than its bigger counterparts. Smaller, more compact, lighter, more efficient, more versatile and smarter. The evo2 is an automatic crane hook which, like the rest of Elebia's range of lifting hooks for cranes, hooks on and releases the load remotely, increasing safety, productivity and comfort of all cargo lifting operations.

Earlier this year, Elebia introduced the Hookbot, an autonomous remote-controlled robotic hook on wheels to help loading and unloading of shipping containers in maritime platforms: it can securely attach hooks to containers stacked in a ship's hold or on a deck with no need for a crew member to be involved. The hookbot is controlled by the crane operator from the safety of his onshore cab. It uses a magnetic attraction system to make contact with the lifting ring, and automatic latching to secure it.

Finally, AAL Shipping's (AAL) 'Asia to Australia East & West Coast Liner Services' has delivered a series of five project cargo shipments from China to Eastern Australia for a major brownfields coal project in Mackay, Queensland. Harnessing several of AAL's 19,000 DWT S-class fleet of heavy lift vessels and commissioned by global logistics provider Geodis Australia, the shipments transported berth components of varying sizes from Shanghai and were discharged in Mackay. The brownfields project involves the disassembly and replacement of one of the existing berth and shiploaders to improve cyclonic wave immunity to terminal operations.

The site is located within the lease boundaries of the Hay Point Coal Terminal, approximately 38km south of Mackay, Central Queensland. Shipment one carried heavy lift components from China to Mackay, to facilitate the on-site installation of new berth modules. The cargo comprised temporary steelworks including walkways, platforms, huts and piles - the latter between 2m and 53m in length.

Shipments two, four and five from China transported components in support of preparatory works including modification of existing concrete caisson berth foundations, disassembly and removal of the existing berth and shiploader and onsite installation, tie-in and commissioning of new berth modules. Shipment three, from China to Henderson on the Australian West Coast, comprised 86 frames and walkways and enabled the off-site fabrication of new berth topside modules (decking, shiploader rail beams, conveyor galleries and sections) and the new shiploader (SL2A). "The Australian market has been experiencing significant terminal congestion issues, extended waiting times and increased port charges.

The success of our operations involves the careful handling of these challenges - either mitigation of potential port congestion and detention charges, or schedule optimisation by remaining flexible and having the ability to add inducement ports, when required,' said Frank Mueller, general manager, AAL Australia, who is based in Brisbane. Nicola Pacifico, global head of engineering, AAL, added: "Cargo components were loaded in Shanghai from barge, truck and wharf - depending on their unit size - and we carefully stacked and secured these on deck into tiers of three and four units high to ensure as much cargo as possible could be safely stowed on each sailing trip. "Covid restrictions in China meant our Cargo Superintendent could not physically attend loading, so instead we monitored the activity via a live video feed and online comms with our Master and crew.

"Before the pandemic, remote supervision of such operations was rare.

Today, it is a fact of life and all our teams have been extensively cross-trained to execute work under these forced conditions."