Advanced materials handling technology has seen a total refurbishment and transplant into the 200 tonne crane at the heart of operations of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa helped this major inland US port to continue to serve its existing users cost-efficiently while introducing radically expanded logistics capabilities for the future.
The Oklahoma Port – which typically handles more than 2.7 million tonnes of freight a year – is a major road, rail, and river intermodal shipping complex for U.S. and global companies, particularly those involved in agriculture, including wheat; steel; oil and industrial gas; mining products; and manufactured consumer goods.
The port is served by a sophisticated multi-hoist 200-tonne bridge crane which had to be totally stripped and renovated. To ensure top performance and reliability, Whiting Corporation was selected to modernise the crane to the highest standards of safety and reliability as the centrepiece of the new port facilities created by the port over the last two years, including a new 720 tonne dock on which the crane is located and 6,000 track feet (1,829m) of new rail.
Swift and thorough renewal of the crane was critical because port authorities expect the completion of expansion of the Panama Canal this year will provide new opportunities for container cargo to be delivered to the Port of New Orleans and onwards into the country’s inland waterway systems, of which the Tulsa Port of Catoosa is a major part.
Working closely with port staff, Whiting Services put in 46 consecutive 10-12 hour days, including weekends and Thanksgiving, to fulfil and complete the modernisation project safely and on-time. Top priorities being to get the work done as safely and as efficiently as possible, while building in technologies and reliability that would serve the port for another 45 years to match the service life of the original dock loading facilities.
The versatile 100ft span double girder refurbished crane features two trolleys that each have a main and auxiliary hoist: one with a capacity of 100/50 tonne and the other with a capacity of 100/40 tonne. With lifting heights of over 90ft, the crane is integral to tasks such as loading barges that can hold as many as 15 rail cars or 60 truckloads of cargo for maximum cost efficiency and minimal environmental impact.
Freight moves through the port using barge, rail and truck, often in combination, employing transportation assets such as the docks, terminals and the 1.5m (2.4km) channel on which they are located. Shippers are now able to load barges directly onto rail or truck, or effectively trans-load between truck and rail, creating a seamless and cost-effective logistics operation for companies ranging from break bulk to manufactured project cargo.
Refurbishment of the crane was preferred to building a new one because of the time and expense involved in constructing a totally new crane with all the features and versatility already contained within the structure of the original purpose-built crane.
Senior Industrial Marketing Strategist, Whiting Corporation, Scott Bort said: “Customers and stakeholders of the Port won both ways through the decision to cost-efficiently rebuild at a substantial saving on the cost of a new design, while also benefitting from the introduction of the latest safety and logistics technologies on the refurbished crane.”
Bort continued: “The project was a masterpiece of partnership and planning between Whiting’s crane specialists and a port management team who oversaw the port upgrade of which the crane refurbishment is an integral part. Work was completed late last year after two years of carefully phased construction.”
Bort added: “We had to do our work as quickly and efficiently as possible to fit within the narrow time frame to bring the crane back online while Tulsa Port of Catoosa continued to serve the 2,500-acre (8km2) complex.”
The complex already serves more than 70 companies, employing more than 3,000 people and contributing more than $300m to the local economy. Global and national brands using the facility include ArcelorMittal shipping and mining products, Gavilon fertilisers, Linde engineering, Matrix tanks for the oil and gas industries and Safety-Kleen environmental services.
The crane upgrade – a multi-dimensional jigsaw of phased tasks fitting around minimisation of customer inconvenience – involved the Whiting team working with port staff while supported by the full engineering and manufacturing resources of the Whiting Corporation, a leading crane manufacturer and lifting equipment service organisation, as well as being an authority on safe lifting. Whiting Corporation supplies diverse industries where safety and reliability are critical, including shipping, railway, aerospace, car and general manufacturing, and power generation, including nuclear power.
In 46 consecutive field days at Tulsa Port of Catoosa, Whiting and Whiting Services took down the old crane; sandblasted, repaired and repainted the few structures remaining on-site; and installed all the new components on machinery both on-site and off-site, in the lay down working area.
Bort added: “We basically replaced everything but the existing girders, part of the end trucks, the runway and runway structure. What we didn’t replace, we repaired, prepped, primed, and painted for ongoing durability.”