"Mama Mobokoli" arrives in the Congo, ready to revolutionize unloading
After a 39-day, 4915 nautical mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, from the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium, plus a three-day trip up the Congo River, the E-Crane Mama Mobokoli (mother that takes care) midstream transfer station arrived on 20 August at its final destination at Matadi, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The new, state-of-the-art E-Crane is designed to provide greatly improved production and operational efficiency and economy for Seaboard Corporation’s Midema grain unloading and flour mill operations.
“By 2007 the unloading procedures for Handy and Handymax vessels at our Midema grain operation had become a serious problem, and it was quite obvious that we needed to revamp the whole operation,” said Seaboard Corporation vice president Jim Gutsch. “What wasn’t quite so obvious was how to get the most efficient and dependable equipment and system available—for now and with substantial capacity for future growth. You just don’t dare make mistakes in choices like that.”
Seaboard had to first decide whether to invest heavily in the dated and neglected existing Matadi infrastructure or build a new quay (only one of ten original quays is still working) or whether to take a new tack. Matadi is the inland port the farthest up the Congo River and has major congestion problems. After reviewing a number of options, Seaboard decided that a floating trans-loading station was the fastest, most flexible and most costeffective solution.
Further, if it becomes necessary to move the operation in the future, Seaboard can easily transport the E-Crane barge to a new location, rather than leave behind an expensive facility.
“We investigated various options and equipment manufacturers,” Gutsch said. “Our first choice was the E-Crane. This decision was based originally on an E-Crane dockside facility we visited in Houston, Texas that was very close to what we wanted. We contacted E-Crane International USA, Galion, Ohio to see whether they could build a largely similar transloading station on a barge and adapt it to the congested infrastructure situation at Matadi. I must say that in all my years in engineering and purchasing equipment for jobs around the world, I have never encountered a supplier that was so determined and dedicated to finding a practical solution.
“The Midema project was complex and difficult, but the E-Crane team worked and worked on the concept until a commercially viable solution was found and agreed on. Both Greg Stough (managing field director of Seaboard operations in the Congo) and I are overwhelmed and impressed with the pride and determination the E-Crane team has shown.”
The floating midstream transloading station features a 1500 Series E-Crane (equilibrium crane) on a 1,000m² barge. The barge will be towed alongside and secured to the ship to be unloaded. It will then use its winches to move along the ships. Grain will be transferred from the ship into two hoppers by the E-Crane and transported directly to the Seaboard flourmills by conveyor.
The 1500 Series has a reach of 35.9 metres, a lifting capacity of 13.5 tonnes, and unloading capacity of 400tph (tonnes per hour). The cabin sits 14 metres above water level. The electric powered crane and barge can be operated independently, and there is a connection for shore power. Mama Mobokoli is designed to unload vessels of 25,000 to 35,000 tonnes.
The E-Crane’s unique equilibrium design features a parallelogram style boom with a direct mechanical connection between the counterweight and the load, ensuring near-perfect balance throughout its full working range. This provides substantially lower maintenance and operational costs, plus unmatched productivity and extreme versatility in bulk handling. The cabin is designed for operator comfort, visibility and easy, joy-stick operation. E-Crane will train customer personnel in the operation and maintenance of the unit.
Because the E-Crane’s counterweight moves both up/down and back/forward, there is a very small tipping movement and so less barge movement and friction between the terminal and vessel, as well as faster and more precise grab positioning. And the ECrane’s hydraulics make it possible to push down, or tamp the material for better filling capacity.
E-Crane International USA serves the North American market and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Belgian company Indusign NV, manufacturer of the E-Crane product line.
Seaboard Corporation, Shawnee Mission, Kansas, USA is a multinational organization with 10,000 employees worldwide. The company’s main businesses include Seaboard Foods, an integrated producer of premium pork products; Seaboard Marine, a containerized shipping service; and Commodity Trading and Milling, an international grain processing and trading business with primary operations in Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Other major businesses include sugar and citrus production in Argentina and electric power production for public and private users in the Dominican Republic.
Source: Dry Cargo International, September issue 2008