BY REUBEN ADAMS
PORT Kembla is the second largest coal export port in NSW, handling about 11 percent of total exports from State. To meet current needs and future expansion demands the coal terminal is undergoing extensive restoration and compliance works – which will culminate in the replacement of the existing stackers and reclaimers with brand new machines.
In 2014, thyssenkrupp was awarded the contract for the design, supply and construction of the reclaimer and in 2015, of the three replacement stackers.
Over three years, the $100 million project has generated more than 400 jobs in design, supply, construction and commissioning of the equipment which is currently being shipped from WA to its new home at Port Kembla.
thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Australia chief executive Andrew Howie and chief operations officer Russell McBain explain how this equipment will help transform performance at Port Kembla.
Q. Can you provide a short background on thyssenkrupp’s involvement in the Port Kembla Coal Terminal Restoration and Compliance project?
thyssenkrupp was invited to tender for the supply of the replacement 3 stackers and 1 bucketwheel reclaimer in 2013, following PKCT’s review of other thyssenkrupp operating machines in similar markets.
Following conceptual layouts of the replacement machines and agreed implementation methodology, thyssenkrupp was formally awarded a contract in 2014 for the design, supply and construction of the reclaimer and subsequently in 2015, of the three replacement stackers.
thyssenkrupp is the only EPC (engineer, procure, construct) contractor in the country that does end-to-end design, fabrication, procurement, and construction work within Australia.
Q. Why the decision to design, supply, construct and commission the three coal stackers and a giant reclaimer at the AMC in Perth?
The service conditions for the equipment at Port Kembla are severe, and the Port Kembla Coal Terminal was exact in their specification to counter these environmental conditions. thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions surveyed the global and Australian fabricators and concluded that the optimum location was in Western Australia.
The access to deep water ports immediately adjacent to the fabrication and assembly yards was certainly a factor, but also were the high quality of the local companies and their proximity to our design and engineering teams in Perth.
The location allowed us to pre-assemble the equipment for shipping and will minimize the erection time and disruptions to the operations at Port Kembla Coal Terminal.
Q. What logistics were involved in design, construction and commissioning? Did you encounter any unforeseen issues?
In order minimise the impact to operation requirements of PKCT’s brownfield site, thyssenkrupp’s strategy was to construct and commission the machines offsite in WA prior to transporting finished machines to Port Kembla.
This required the use of self-propelled motorised trailers (SPMT’s) to transport the heavy equipment alongside ship using specially engineered transport frames, and from ship to stockyard rails using the same equipment.
The unique capabilities of Jumbo’s Heavy Lift Vessel has permitted the lifting and loading of the bucketwheel reclaimer to be shipped in one piece at a mass of 1490t.
This is the first for thyssenkrupp anywhere in the world to our knowledge.
Q. How has this equipment been designed increase efficiencies and transform performance at Port Kembla?
These units have the ability to be operated fully autonomously, and we’ve used the latest GPS and radar technology to maximise safety and optimise stockyard and outloading capacity by smoothing feed patterns and reducing shiploading time.
The reclaimer has been designed with an integral surge bin and feeder to optimise load out capacity through existing material handling equipment — essentially, the new machines will have an increased capacity through more efficient operation.
Stackers are now slewing machines in order to maximise stockyard capacity.
The machines are designed to optimise stockyard capacity and out loading capacity of existing infrastructure by smoothing feed patterns, thus reducing the loading time of coal into ships.
Machines were fully modelled and designed in 3D. Material handling flow characteristics fully modelled using DEM software. Full FEA modelling of all key components allows machine masses to be optimised.
Q. The 1490t reclaimer will be the heaviest piece of machinery ever loaded onto a ship in a single lift at the AMC. Was this a nervous moment?
The reclaimer is yet to be loaded onto the ship; the plan was to send two of the stackers on the first shipment, with the reclaimer and the third stacker going on the second.
To date, with a couple of delays due to weather, the shipment has progressed safely and has been fully unloaded at site. The second shipment is due to start loading early next week.
The size of the lift will always require special attention, but with the team of professionals that has been assembled for the lift of the reclaimer we are very confident it shall proceed safely and without any hitches.
Q. The equipment is being transported to NSW on the Jumbo Kinetic – the biggest heavy-lift vessel in its class. How is this tracking?
It is tracking well, although the recent storm activity across the Bight did cause some delays in the shipment times.
Our focus has been on the safety of our teams and we have been very proud of the way everybody has combined to ensure that we maintain our record.
Q. The WA Government stated that you’re now looking to recruit skilled professionals and construction workers on the back of a strong project pipeline. Can you provide more details on these projects?
Our contract to supply three stackers and seven trippers into Rio Tinto’s East Intercourse Island Stockyard in Dampier, Western Australia, is expected to create more than 100 jobs.
We have other projects in the pipeline but are not able to disclose the specifics at this point of time.