Headquartered in Convent, Louisiana, Associated Terminals (AT) is the leading stevedore and terminal operator on the Lower Mississippi River and beyond. It operates fourteen midstream river anchorage facilities in the region as well as additional dockside and on-site facilities. “When we first visited AT in 2018, we presented them with a 3D-printed model of our innovative, award-winning nemaX dry bulk grab and they were immediately interested,” explains Rudy Bovée, account manager at Nemag. “They next decided to trial the grab in practice for a month as part of the nemaX world tour. Shortly thereafter, they placed an order. The nemaX simply sells itself!”
Of course, Associated Terminals is not the only terminal to have adopted the nemaX; the dry bulk grab among other things offers versatility, cost-effectiveness, efficiency and ease of maintenance. However, Rudy and his team are particularly proud of the fact that Associated Terminals decided to opt for a Nemag product. Rudy: “AT’s mission, core values and vision perfectly align with our Passion for Performance. Like Nemag, it highly values customer relations and is always looking for ways to innovate and improve operations. After years of development and cooperation between engineers, customers and users, it is really great that the nemaX exceeds everyone’s expectations. To have a customer actually confirm this is a great source of pride for us at Nemag. Especially such a unique customer as Associated Terminals, with its strong emphasis on midstream transloading activities and the use of floating cranes.”
High productivity, low maintenance
Shortly after commissioning the nemaX in 2019, AT was already achieving the promised productivity increase of 13% and sometimes more. It has also experienced many of the other benefits of the grab. For example, the fact that the nemaX has far fewer moving parts substantially reduces the need for maintenance. Furthermore, it is able to handle 20% more cargo with the same closing cables, further boosting the cost-efficiency of the grab. “Even if the nemaX would have the same productivity as the clamshell, we would still opt for the nemaX, purely based on the operational advantages it offers,” says Zeljko S. Franks II, Senior Vice President of Associated Terminals.
CAPEX and OPEX
When assessing the financial aspects of a grab, two elements are key: the asset investment costs (CAPEX) and the operating expenditure (OPEX). Bulk terminals with clear insight into maintenance costs have concluded that the total maintenance costs of a grab constitute a more significant factor than its asset investment costs. Calculated over the grab’s lifespan, the average asset investment costs of a four-rope grab amount to around 1 eurocent per tonne of cargo transferred. In terms of grab maintenance costs, this can however be as much as 2 to 3 eurocents per tonne of cargo handled.
“The nemaX will immediately bring down costs, but other advantages such as maintenance do not become apparent until after a couple of years,” explains Rudy. “Especially when transloading on the water, it is important that the cranes can continuously operate and that downtime is kept to a minimum. For customers such as AT, ease of maintenance is therefore crucial. Since operations take place from a floating pontoon on the Mississippi, any maintenance work will have to be performed right there. So, the less maintenance, the better.”
Associated Terminals handles a highly diverse range of cargos, ranging from dry bulk such as grains, minerals and coal to windmills and project cargo. The nemaX is currently only used for iron ore pellets. Close cooperation with AT and a continuous focus on improvement and innovation will however make it possible to deploy the grab for other types of bulk as well. “We are proud that our grab helps AT to boost productivity and lower the costs,” explains Rudy. “Together with them, we are currently assessing which other commodities might benefit from the nemaX. We do this in close cooperation and based on trust. After-sales is just as important as sales. This is how we build long-term partnerships. In that respect, we are proud to say that AT has placed an order for a second nemaX grab, which will be delivered in January 2022!”
Innovative design features
Regular wear and tear can never be fully prevented, but the nemaX allows you to achieve substantial savings in terms of maintenance. This significantly helps to reduce operational expenditure and downtime, crucial in view of the pressure on handling rates that terminals are experiencing due to overcapacity in the dry bulk sector. Through exhaustive computer simulations, the nemaX offers numerous key innovative design features. The most important ones are:
Minimal number of moving parts
The nemaX design features a minimal number of moving parts: only 2 sheaves and 70% fewer moving parts than in a comparable clamshell grab.Only 2 main pivot points
The nemaX has only 2 main pivot points with high quality spherical roller bearings. In comparison, a comparable clamshell grab with slide bearings features 12 main pivot points.Durable closing cables
The way in which the hoisting wires have been reeved reduces flexing along the sheave blocks by 75% compared to a 2 x 5-part clamshell grab. Metal fatigue in the closing cables is reduced proportionately, resulting in a longer operational lifespan for these cables. And nemaX’ unique operational design minimises the clogging and wear of sheave blocks and closing cables and significantly extends the lifespan of the closing cables.Closing cables are easy and safe to switch
The anchor points of the closing cables are located at an accessible working height, making it easy and safe to reeve in new closing cables without needing to set up an elevated work platform of scaffolding.
The nemaX grab
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