Docksolid® Ship Unloading Hopper and grain storage facility upgrade commissioned at West Twin Silo, Belfast Port

Home / News / Docksolid® Ship Unloading Hopper and grain storage facility upgrade commissioned at West Twin Silo, Belfast Port

Our customer is part of a diversified group of international commodity trading, storage, agribusiness, and industrial companies. The site is one of the largest grain storage facilities in Europe, discharging commodities directly from ships to storage. The site operation involves unloading bulk cargo ships, using a crane and ‘grab’ discharging to hoppers, that deploy cargo to a network of conveyors transporting the cargo to storage.

The 24/7 ship unloading, and storage operations handles ships from the UK, Europe, the Americas, and Southeast Asia. Further conveyors unload the product from storage, into road wagons for distribution to the market. Much of the existing equipment and infrastructure on site was 1960’s technology, with filling and cargo route management being manually controlled in the storage building.

Headline Summary of Project Requirements

Due to the replacement of two existing cranes and their associated smaller hoppers with a single new higher capacity grab crane; our customer required a single bespoke design high-capacity rail mounted quayside hopper and integrated cargo handling system. The system required fully automated crane and hopper operation, with real-time integrated control, reduced cycle time, dust suppression, and increasing overall efficiency, by doubling capacity from 500 to 1,000 tonne per hour, plus facilitating offloading in 4 different route and volume capacity modes.

Our solution we devised included:

  • Automation of cargo routing from hopper to storage locations, plus connecting new hopper into both gantry conveyor routes on the berth side of the store.
  • Create parallel feed systems to both gantry conveyor routes; this parallel feeding requires bespoke hopper geometry with a double conveyor discharge arrangement which is connected to two diverter inlet points at one time.
  • Upgrading of all conveyors within the store, to ensure increased throughput, replacing the existing open belt conveyors with enclosed chain and flight conveyors with slides and diverters to the silo bins. All new equipment using innovative control technologies, digital integrated RADAR probes, and level sensors. Provision of mechanical spot filters on the new conveyors to reduce dust emissions.
  • The hopper control systems were integrated with the overall facility automation system, and equipped with interlocks to ensure the hopper’s handling equipment does not operate until downstream equipment is confirmed to be running. Pneumatic hopper slides for filling vehicles were controlled remotely by the control system combined with CCTV monitoring, with option for hopper movements to be controlled by site personnel, independent of the control system.
  • There was a strict requirement that ongoing site operations are not impacted, and that intake, storage and product discharge operations are fully maintained during the re-fit project. Working space alongside the deepwater berth and within the storage facility was very limited, given the scale of upgrade required.
  • Extensive discussions with the customer’s dedicated and experienced project management team throughout the design phase ensured we fully understood their business requirements and that the final solution included the highest EHS and ESG standards expected.
  • The solution offered to the customer by Buttimer Engineering’s team called on our extensive knowledge and four decades experience of design and manufacture of bulk materials handling solutions.

Read more