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Downtime Is Not An Option

World Coal,

Lake Charles Harbor & Terminal District is the legal name of the operation more commonly known as the Port of Lake Charles in Louisiana. It is 204 miles west of New Orleans and 34 miles inland from the coast. It’s not known for its nightlife, blues, jazz or hurricanes. It’s famous in its own right having gained recognition by the Army Corps of Engineers as the 12th largest port authority out of 150 in the nation based on tonnage. While petroleum coke represents the largest commodity handled at the Port, the revenues associated with petroleum coke represent only 36% of the Port’s total revenues.

In addition to the ‘pet-coke’ the Port handles a broad range of commodities including bulk cargoes - dry bulk commodities; petroleum coke - calcined coke - barite - rutile – proppants; break-bulk cargoes - unitized cargoes; bagged grain - bagged rice - lumber - rubber – linerboard; containerized cargoes - break-bulk cargo shipments loaded into self-contained shipping units that are handled through leased facilities.

Current Port Facilities

Bulk Terminal No.1 (BT-1), located on the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Sulphur, LA, is the Port's most active terminal and the work site for the operation’s recently acquired three Liebherr PR 764 crawler dozers. BT-1 is a 71-acre dry bulk terminal, 32 miles inland from the Gulf. It has a 2200 ft long wharf and a 40 ft projected depth dockside giving it the capability to accommodate three vessels simultaneously.

Two traveling ship loaders and two traveling clam-bucket un-loader expedite loading and un-loading of the ships. The coke ship-loader handles 3200 short tons of petroleum coke per hour. The two-ship/barge clam-bucket type un-loader and conveyor system travel over 2000 feet of dock. The system makes it possible to transfer commodities from vessel-to-vessel, vessel-to-rail, vessel-to-truck or to open storage. The BT-1 facility handles approximately 3 million tons of dry bulk material annually. The Liebherr dozers play a critical role in making this possible.

The Port of Lake Charles is an independent political subdivision of the State of Louisiana, created by Louisiana Legislature in 1924 and encompasses 203 square miles in Southwest Louisiana. It provides infrastructure for marine terminal facilities that are owned and operated by the Port, owned by the Port and leased to private operators or privately owned and operated companies. The Port serves as landlord to companies leasing Port-owned property for both traditional and nontraditional port tenants.

The primary facilities include City Docks, Bulk Terminal No.1, Bulk Terminal No.2, Industrial Canal, Bulk Terminal No.4 and Industrial Park East. Because of its diversity, the overall Port facilities are in an on-going program of development and improvement.

BT-1 is where the Liebherr 764s are working. Todd Henderson is director of operations and has held this position for the last three-and-a-half years of his 11 years employment at the Port. He is responsible for the overall operation of all port facilities including BT-1. Donald Brinkman, Jr. P.E. is the Port’s director of engineering, maintenance and development and has been in this position for the last six years.

The Port employs approximately 125 individuals with the actual count varying depending on facility activities. In addition to the BT-1 facility the Port staff is responsible for maintaining the 64 miles of channel and waterways stretching to the coast. Approximately 58 million tons of cargo is moved up and down this channel annually.

Henderson pointed out the fact that, “this includes approximately 7.5% of the nation’s energy.”

There are 15 people on the maintenance staff, which is responsible for the BT-1 facility as well as equipment maintenance. The BT-1 equipment fleet has more than 34 pieces of operating equipment including a Liebherr 954 excavator, which they have had since 2010.

Liebherr PR 764 Dozers

According to Henderson and Brinkman, the first of the three Liebherr PR 764 dozers went to work moving materials in January 2013 and the others showed up on the job on 22nd February 2013. All three of the machines are equipped with 48 yd3 coal blades. Because the Port is a governmental entity, they were acquired through a public bid process. Brinkman says, “the Liebherr dozers were put on the bid list because of their size, that was an important factor but also we had experience with the equipment and the Liebherr dealer. Other influencing factors were the ease of operation and fuel efficiency.”

Heavy Machines Inc., home-based in Memphis TN, is the Liebherr dealer that services the Port Lake Charles area through its Shreveport facility. The dealer representative and Liebherr introduced the Port to the PR764.

The PR764s were spec’d with coal packages, which included the 48 yard coal blades. They are used to move and stack off-loaded materials into storage piles and to maintain these materials while in storage. They are also used to push material into reclaimers that are used to load outbound vessels.

How tough is the environment? When a ship or ships need to be loaded or unloaded the operation runs on a 24-hour basis. Even when there are no vessels needing attention because of the volumes handled by the Port the materials are stacked 24-hours a day. In addition to the Liebherr dozers the Port uses a polar stacker. According to Brinkman, “we had some smaller machines, not specified for coal handling, and they lasted only five years. This is a dirty, highly abrasive environment that challenges the equipment. The PR 764s are meeting the challenge and we’re not getting complaints from the operators.”

Henderson adds, “it’s definitely an environment where the operators have to work the machines. We push them and push them hard.” Explaining the operation Henderson continues saying, “we don't have a ship or ships everyday but we have days when we have two or three and they have to be processed as quickly and efficiently as possible because the docking time is quite expensive.”

“Downtime is not an option,” Brinkman injects stressing the importance of needing dependable and reliable equipment. “That’s one of the reasons we got a fleet of them,” Brinkman continues. The idea was that with three we would be able to have two working whenever needed while the third was out for service. As far as I know we have not had any downtime problems with the Liebherr dozers.”

Henderson explained that they were collecting data on the three Liebherr dozers and that after they have been in use for a year would evaluate the data with respect to fuel consumption and productivity. They were acquired as part of a facility update. Prior to the Liebherrs arriving on the job they were using old bucket wheel reclaimers to move the materials. The dozers give the operation greater flexibility with improved maneuverability and productivity.

“With the new system using the dozers production is much more consistent,” Henderson points out. As for the new dozers, Brinkman comments, “the operators like them. They’re new and they say they are comfortable as well as easy to operate. The other comment that I’ve heard is that they work really well and have no problem pushing the 48 plus yards of material. The hydrostatic drive gives them excellent control on the piles. I haven’t heard any complaints.”

After the sale and delivery of the new machines the dealer has remained involved with the Port operations. Brinkmans says, “They have been a big help to us by holding maintenance classes and operator training. Operator training is important. The time spent training the operators makes a difference in their efficiency and productivity.”

The Port’s maintenance staff does daily and routine maintenance while hourly specified the dealer’s maintenance personnel do inspections and services. According to Brinkman the relationship with the dealer has been very good.

The Port is experiencing continued growth and expansion. An exciting development is the Lake Charles Clean Energy Plant, which upon completion will use 2.6 million tons of petroleum-coke annually, doubling the amount currently flowing through the Port facility. Henderson and Brinkman are happy with the changes that have been made to date and confident that the Liebherr PR 764s are more than capable of meeting today’s demands and tomorrow’s challenges.

Written by The Liebherr Group.

Adapted for web by Katie Woodward

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