A variety of material handling equipment can help move and load bulk cargoes and containers when they leave a storage area.
Whether in the shape of coils or rolls or stored in bulk bags or containers, a wide variety of cargo is moved every day from warehouses and outdoor storage areas to awaiting river barges.
Moving cargo into and out of these warehouses and outdoor bunker areas often is an endeavor where money is saved or lost.
Manufacturers in a variety of equipment sectors are competing to supply time-saving solutions to terminal and port facility operators as they move cargoes into and out of their storage areas.
Among the inland port facilities with considerable warehouse space is the Owensboro Riverport Authority, along the Ohio River in Kentucky.
The agency offers more than 400,000 square feet of covered warehouse space at two facilities. According to the agency’s website (www.owensbororiverport.com), the smaller of its two warehouses specializes in storing metals, including steel coils and London Metal Exchange-traded aluminum alloys, while its larger warehouse maintains accommodates “many paper products, various recycled and scrap material, and general goods.”
Some of these materials are stored at the Riverport warehouses yet shipped via rail or truck. Others, however, are shipped by barge whether as bulk cargo or as containerized loads.
Overhead and In Use
Several of America’s steelmakers, including Charlotte-based Nucor Corp., have purposely located mils along the inland waterways system in the past three decades to take advantage of the affordable shipping method.
Many of these mills are electric arc furnace mills and receive their predominant raw material—scrap iron and steel—by river barge.
As well, a location along the inland waterways network allows a mill to begin the outbound journey for some finished products along the waterways system.
River port facilities near one of these mills may choose to equip themselves with heavy-duty forklifts to move such products as well as specialty equipment such as overhead cranes.
Among the companies taking advantage of this method is metals toll processor The Material Works Ltd. (TMW), Red Bud, Ill., which uses a 50-ton crane to handle steel coils throughout the United States and around the world.
Barge shipping and overhead cranes are key technologies that allow TMW to accept “steel coils from around the world into our climate-controlled storage without ever touching a truck” says the company on its website (www.thematerialworks.com).
The company’s facility is located along the Kaskaskia River, nine miles from that inland waterway’s connection to the Mississippi River.
TMW’s location allows it to bring in steel coils from mills in Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
As well, the Mississippi River path to New Orleans and that city’s Gulf Intracoastal Waterway connection to Houston lengthens TMW’s waterborne connection to include the rest of the world.
Coil lifter photo courtesy of Winkle Industries, Alliance, Ohio, www.winkleindustries.com.
For large-volume cargoes, the Owensboro Riverport Authority at its Harbor Road Terminal “has two 110-ton capacity cranes, with one located on a floating spud barge, and a full array of loaders, forklifts, and specialty equipment,” says the agency on its website.
Another river port with considerable warehouse space is the Little Rock Port Terminal in Little Rock, Ark., on the Arkansas River.
While a lot of the activity at this facility involves bulk cargoes, the terminal also offers 157,000 square feet of warehouse space for a variety of goods including paper products, lumber, steel (coils, pipe and structural shapes) and aluminum sows and ingots.
The Little Rock terminal’s three barge berths are often engaged in transferring bulk commodities to and from railcars or trucks. According to the Little Rock Port Authority website (lrport.dina.org), bulk barge loading is accomplished with “a 175-ton Manitowoc crane and a 125-ton American crane.”
A 30-ton rail-mounted gantry crane at one of the three barge berths services rail/truck cargo transfers. These operations can be assisted by “a variety of forklifts with capacities up to 30,000 pounds,” according to the Little Rock Port Authority.
The Port of Muskogee, located in Oklahoma along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, operates a 35-ton and two 10-ton overhead cranes. The Muskogee port’s fleet also includes mobile material handling equipment, some of which can be outfitted with a scrap-handling magnet. Among the Port’s customers is a scrap yard operated by mutli-national steelmaker Gerdau Ameristeel. (See also the sidebar “Overhead and In Use”.)
Providing a Lift
The workhorse of the warehouse, whether at a port facility or hundreds of miles from the nearest river, is the forklift.
Sizable warehouses stocked with basic materials like steel coils, rolls of paper, aluminum ingots or Gaylord boxes full of scrap metal are likely to depend on bulkier forklifts with considerable lifting capacity.
Among the companies that market forklifts and other mobile material handling products designed for port stevedoring applications is Taylor Machine Works, Alpha, N.J.
On its website (www.taylormachineworks.com), the company says its “trucks have been serving the world’s intermodal transportation industries even before the birth of the modern day shipping container. Trucks designed for empty containers, loaded containers, railroad (piggyback) work, and everything in between are part of the Taylor arsenal of container and break bulk handling equipment.”
The company makes a series of forklifts with high masts with a high reach that assists warehouse personnel when they need to stack shipping containers up to nine trailers high.
Taylor Machine Works forklifts for industrial markets, available with both pneumatic tires and solid tires, are built with capacities of from seven ton to 60 tons, and are designed to haul port terminal warehouse items such as steel, aluminum, concrete and other heavy or bulky loads commonly handled at ports.
One of the largest and most established forklift makers in the United States, Hyster Co., part of the Cleveland-based NACCO Materials Handling Group, builds models ranging up to 52 tons in lifting capacity.
The company’s line of H800HD-H1050HD/S diesel-engine powered lift trucks is designed for applications that require moving heavy-duty loads ranging from 80,000 to 105,000 pounds says the company on its website, www.hyster.com.
Hyster also makes high-reach models designed as container handlers, including the lighter-duty H360HD2-EC4, suited specifically for “applications such as sea ports and applications where unloading, loading and single-row empty container stacking is applicable.”
At port warehouses handling a steady volume of heavy steel coils, specialty models by companies such as Finland-based Konecranes, can be part of the material handling fleet. (The U.S. office of Konecranes, www.konecranesamericas.com/on the web, is in Springfield, Ohio.)
On its website, the company says its “standard steel-handling reach stackers have capacities [of] up to 45 tons.” Its heavy-duty forklifts, says Konecranes, can be designed and equipped to handle steel coils, blooms, slabs or tubes at a wide range of temperatures.
The Mississippi River port complex in Granite City, Ill., which operates under the name America’s Central Port, is a sprawling facility with 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space.
Located near St. Louis, the complex “transfers in excess of 4 million tons of product annually between river barges, railcars and trucks,” according to its website (www.americascentralport.com).
The indoor space in Granite City includes five warehouse buildings with more than 200,000 square feet of space each. “Each building is divided into 43,200-square-foot warehouse suites with maximum clear ceiling heights of 24 feet.”
The forklifts serving these warehouses thus need considerable height reach and must be equipped to handle a variety of goods to be trans-loaded.
|Left: At river and lake port facilities with considerable container trans-loading activities, specialized equipment that can stack and retrieve shipping containers can be a key part of the material handling fleet. Right: A Konecranes SMV 16-1200 B forklift truck using a paper roll clamp for paper roll handling. (Owned and operated by Rauma Stevedoring, Finland.)
Non-bulk goods often are loaded onto barges at the General Cargo Dock The America’s Central Port website says this existing harbor spot “can handle literally anything by barge and transfer it to truck or rail. Commodities frequently handled include steel coils, metals and fertilizer [as well as] packaged and palletized goods and sea containers.”
Operations at the General Cargo Dock are carried out by Mid-Coast Terminal Co., [city]. Mid-Coast describes its forklift fleet as consisting of models in the 6,000 to 70,000-pound capacity-range. It says, on its website at www.lewisandclarkmarine.com/midcoast.html, the lift trucks are equipped with a variety of accessories such as coil rams, side shifters and coil probes.
As well, Mid-Coast Terminal has at the ready a fleet of front-end loaders it describes as ranging in size from “Bobcats to 6-yard-bucket articulating loaders.”
The considerable array of equipment at work in Granite City may exceed the norm at smaller river port warehouses, but throughout the inland system, similar types of mobile material handling equipment are hard at work.
The author is editorial director of Waterways Today and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.