Innovation by TPT saves millions

Transnet Port Terminal’s Port Elizabeth

A depth of experience and a proactive approach by the technical team at Transnet Port Terminal’s Port Elizabeth container terminal has saved the company millions of Rands, improved turnaround time, set a new loading record and met customer expectations in May 2017.

Since 2013, when the two-berth PE Container Terminal (PECT) became the first South African terminal to load bulk ore carrying vessels using ship-to-shore-cranes (STS) paired with RAM revolver spreaders, it hasbeen loading bulk vessels in addition to container vessels thus complementing the port’s three-berth bulk and break-bulk terminal. The RAM Revolver spreaders can be unhooked from the cranes when they are needed to load or unload containers.

This combi-terminal strategy enables customers to export and import non-containerised cargo at the container terminal and has resulted in the terminal successfully exporting more than 2,5 million tons of manganese ore over the past four years. Over this period the export ore volumes through the container terminal have increased by an average of 22,5% year-on-year which is providing it with a valuable revenue stream. Nevertheless customers wanted more capacity to increase the loading rate and reduce vessel stay time at the port.

“We found an innovative solution to the problem by proposing to convert crane 3, a Liebherr ship-to-shore, to be compatible with a RAM revolver spreader like crane 2 and crane 4 on either side of it,” said Jaco Meyer, Technical Manager PE Container Terminal. He further added that the team realized that the unconverted crane 3 positioned between crane 2 and crane 4 on the quayside was a dummy and when loading bulk using skiptainers it hampered operations by preventing the other two cranes from loading adjacent hatches on the vessel.

When TPT’s technical team requested the OEM (Liebherr) to conduct the conversion they received a quote for R2 159 million. Siya Mhlaluka, TPT GM for the Eastern Cape, proudly explained how TPT’s technical team decided that to take up the challenge to complete the conversion themselves, saving the company millions while gaining valuable experience. Despite challenges, including there being no manual to guide the team or any assistance with the conversion, the technical team completed the conversion on 5 May 2017 and the hot commissioning was done on a customer’s vessel with minimal delays.

“The conversion which cost as little as R50 000 and saved more than R2,1 million has brought enormous benefits to Transnet Port Terminals. It has enabled PECT to achieve a loading rate of 14 230 tons of Manganese ore in just 12 hours, which is a new record for the terminal. The innovation and the capacity which has been created by this conversion is testament to TPT’s commitment to find solutions that meet and exceed the customer’s expectation. Both the terminal’s internal and external customers are extremely delighted with the modification as it has afforded monetary savings, improved productivity and ensured optimal use of the equipment,” added Mhlaluka.

The terminal can now plan to load 3 hatches adjacent to each other at the same time on a vessel which results in faster loading rates, reduced vessel stay in the port and lower port and demurrage fees for the customers and more vessels can be handled at the berth, Mhlaluka said.

Crane 3 is the most reliable crane at the terminal and by using it on the skiptainer operation it will improve equipment availability during the skiptainer process.

But, said Mhlaluka the most important benefit is that improved customer satisfaction and confidence in the capability and capacity of the Port Elizabeth Terminal will lead to more or new business.