It takes Two to Tango at Global materials Services Venezuela
You would not expect to find a 24/7 attitude in a Latin American Country like Venezuela, but this is the working environment for two all hydraulic material handling E-Cranes installed on a floating platform at mile 182 on the Orinoco River in Puerto Ordaz Venezuela.
The Bauxilum Company mines Bauxite from their mines in Central Venezuela.
The Bauxite is loaded into barges and shipped 350 miles downstream to Puerto Ordaz, where the material is offloaded by 2 E-Cranes. The Bauxilum Company uses the raw material and processes it into alumina, which is the first step in Aluminum making.
Sounds simple so far – doesn’t it, but there is more to it: It takes 5 tons of bauxite to make 2 tons of aluminium oxide trihydrate (alumina). 2 tons of alumina is melted into 1 ton of aluminum. It takes about 157,000 KWH to make one ton of Aluminum under very low current, but approx. 150,000 volts. So you can see it takes enormous amounts of material and energy to produce Aluminum.
The Bauxilum Company contracted with Global Material Services, LLC (GMSV) of Memphis Tennessee to handle 5.3 million tons of bauxite annually for them.
Again very straightforward, right? Not so, this has to be done in 7 months, since during the dry season the Orinoco is too shallow to allow for barges to pass downriver.
To clarify the magnitude of the challenge: A total fleet of 161 barges – each tow consisting of 25 barges (5×5), each barge is 195 feet long, 35 feet wide, 12 feet deep, holding approx 1830 metric tons of bauxite, move 210 days a year, 7days a week, 24 hours a day continuously between the mine and Puerto Ordaz where they have to be unloaded to feed the plant!
GMSV used 2 Mitsubishi ship unloaders in the past to handle the material but was looking for a more efficient solution, since the existing cranes required high maintenance and where unable to fulfill the increased production requirements.
GMSV was aware of E-Cranes success in bulk material unloading. They contacted E-Crane USA for a solution. E-Crane together with their Belgian partner, Indusign NV delivered a solution in record time:
2 – 1500 series, model 11264 E-Cranes mounted on a 100′ wide by 400′ long floating platform. Each E-Crane feeds a floating hopper that is connected with the plant’s conveying system and material is put directly into the 2 million ton plant storage area.
The E-Cranes proved to be an instant success: Smooth, flawless operation, exceeding production estimates, great reliability, ease of maintenance, personnel reduced form over 90 to 42 people – everybody happy – right?
Well… there was one small hitch…the conveying system!
Though no fault of the E-Crane or GMSV, the downstream conveying system has proved to be a problematic area. Due to the material characteristics, the conveying system could not keep up with the production capabilities of the E-Cranes and the plant requirements.
However, as in any good story there is a happy ending:
GMSV opted to replace one 1500 Series E-Crane with the next larger model to offload a larger amount of “buffer” material and compensate for frequent unplanned conveying outages.
There was a small window of opportunity to make this switch, since the plant operates 210 days continuously, but Indusign manufactured and installed a 2000 Series Model 18264 E-Crane in record time. The combined production of a 1500 and a 2000 series E-Crane is now more than sufficient to compensate for the unforeseen conveying “issues”.
To quote Mr. Louis Mok, Operations Manager of GMSV: “This is the real test for material handling equipment”, “we operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 7 months straight… for equipment to hold up well as well as the E-Crane in this environment I would say it has PHD credentials!” “I really like the E-Crane concept and execution. The machine is easy to operate and maintenance friendly.”
PS: We received an e-mail from our Client on August 19th, 2003: In the event you haven’t heard, we set another record last week by discharging 23 barges, approximately 42,00 metric tons in a 2 hour period.
Signed: Michael L. Meece, VP Global Material Services LLC.