Green unloading by Viterra in the United Kingdom

It’s the result that counts!

Unloading bulk carriers can be accomplished in many different ways depending on vessel size and required unloading rate, and users are always looking for the most reliable, cost-effective solution. When faced with the challenge of replacing their mobile harbour crane due to a terminal and warehouse upgrade Viterra carried out a comparative study of the available products.

Main requirements were that the new unloader needed to be mobile and able to unload Panamax vessels without the need for support equipment – except for final clean-up, and would have a minimal environmental impact. The end result of this study can now be admired on the Portland dock in Dorset, United Kingdom: A 1800C Series E-Crane Model EH12421 CR-D.

E-Crane offered a tailor-made crawler-based solution where power supply is accomplished using an electrical cable reel giving the crane the ability to operate completely emission free. As the port civil and electrical upgrade program is still ongoing, an additional stage V diesel generator was added in order to guarantee continuation of operations during the upgrade process. A further unique selling point in the E-Crane offerings was the unprecedented 42 meters outreach, more than any other hydraulic crane available on the market. This enables the E-Crane to unload cargo underneath the hatch coamings only requiring an excavator for collecting the last few grabs from each hold. Another prime example of energy efficiency.

One final thing that appealed to Viterrra was the simple design of the E-Crane where only two
identical cylinders are used for all boom and stick movements. When compared to suppliers of
hydraulic material handlers that require as many as 7 cylinders in combination with an additional energy recovery system that still falls short of the efficiency of the balanced design, it is not hard to determine which solution will work best. At E-Crane we like to say: ‘Simplicity is the Key to Success.’


In 2018, Renova Argentina, in which Viterra is one of the JV partners, acquired a 1500 series E-Crane to unload barges with agribulk. The E-Crane installed at the Timbúes plant is equipped with a 14 m³ clamshell grab for unloading agribulk from Mississippi and Parana type barges into a dedicated hopper. The reliability and the high capacity of the E-Crane caught the attention of Viterra in Portland UK where, amongst other locations, Renova’s agribulk is delivered to. The successful operation of the Renova E-Crane resulted in the inclusion of E-Crane in the selection process for a new grab unloader for Portland that started in early 2019.

Discussions took place in which the requirements were discussed in detail as well as the solutions that could be offered by E-Crane, and were followed up by several site visits on both sides of the English Channel and the preparation of a detailed project study which included overview drawings, cycle times, electrical loads as well a full technical details of the solution that was offered. This process finally resulted in the award of the contract to E-Crane by the end of Q3 2020.


The transport and erection started at the end of 2021 in the midst of the COVID pandemic – a time of testing and quarantine – by no means the easiest time to erect a crane in the United Kingdom. On top of that there was also a small thing called Brexit which added another layer of complexity for our transport team. One final hurdle was the fact that the dock is also used as a cruise terminal, and while these cruise ships were docked – due to safety reasons – the erection couldn’t continue. However, despite all these challenges, the E-Crane erection team in close cooperation with Viterra’s team and management managed to get the E-Crane operational by early 2022. No small feat considering the challenging circumstances.


In the meantime the E-Crane has successfully unloaded a number of large ocean going vessels. The 42-meter outreach allows the crane to cover the complete hold of a Panamax size vessel. A 16 m3 grab is used, especially designed for agribulk, with shells designed for optimal grab filling. The lifting capacity of the E-Crane is also sufficient to place an excavator into the vessel without the need of removing the grab. The E-Crane is unloading into a mobile hopper, which loads trucks that bring the material to Viterra’s new warehouse, located a few kilometers from the quay. The operators are very pleased with the E-Crane. The previous crane was a rope crane, and the speed, comfort and the easy and accurate operation of the E-Crane make their work much more enjoyable. The Galaxy + cab, the most spacious in the industry for a machine in this size, also adds to the quality of their workspace. The future for the E-Crane at Viterra looks very bright and for many years to come, Viterra Portland UK can rely on an environmentally friendly, reliable and cost-efficient crane. Green unloading has
certainly reached Portland.

About Viterra

Viterra is a world-leading, fully integrated agriculture network connecting producers and consumers to supply sustainable, traceable and quality-controlled agricultural products. Vitera has over 180 facilities in 37 countries.


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