Advanced automation in stockyard operations has become a key factor to establish an efficient, stable and competitive supply chain
According to Alex Bozward, Product line Manager for Material Handling and Sampling at FLSmidth, automation allows on single operator, placed in a central control room, to handle the operations of a complete stockyard, consisting of a various number of stacker/reclaimers, ship unloader/loaders and train loader/unloaders.
Bozward will be sharing his knowledge on automation for stockyard operations at the BULK2020 industry conference.
He says that depending on a number of factors, there are several reasons to consider going down the route of automated stockyard operations.
These include a lack of skilled manpower or high labour costs, low utilisation of the stockyard and machinery, complex planning and coordination of the stockyard operations, the life expectancy of the equipment, accurate material tracking and inventory management, and health and safety aspects.
“It is today possible to minimise or eliminate these factors by implementing advanced automation to the material handling machinery and system management,” he says.
“The operational impact of delayering the process by moving to centralised operation is examined together with the combined effect on the overall safety in the stockyard as a result of change in reliance on operator skill dependencies.
“The most important trend for stockyard operations today is to utilise already installed equipment at a maximum, and to keep capital expenditures at a minimum.”
For a dry bulk export or import terminal, he explains a higher stockyard throughput means a bulk carrier will be loaded or unloaded faster, contributing to significant savings by allowing a smaller ‘slot’ for the loading or unloading sequence or by avoiding demurrage fees when the carrier is not loaded/unloaded timely.
He adds that for a mine located stockyard, the situation is basically the same. In this case it is just about loading a train as fast as possible, ensuring space at the stockyard for new material coming from the mine.
“The mechanical design behind any stacker/reclaimer has not changed dramatically the last decades,” Bozward says.
“However, improvements in automation technologies have to a greater extent created opportunity for advancement.
“System automation of stockyard equipment offers productivity increases and adds further benefits in terms of lowering operating costs, improving safety, flexibility, longevity, reliability and predictability.”
To learn more about automation in the bulk handling sector, book your tickets to BULK2020 here.