Companies all over the world are constantly striving to maximise productivity whilst at the same time, reducing operational costs and giving customers a first-class service.

For many port operations time spent loading or unloading vessels can be a costly affair. Having a vessel docked for longer than its allotted time and the port can face massive demurrage charges, something every port owner and operator doesn’t want.

In the past many ports have been busy transport hubs relying on manual labour and intensive use of numerous cranes and material handling equipment to manage a variety of cargoes. As time has moved on, port operators have reduced their volume of manual labour to rely almost entirely on mechanical mean of loading and unloading vessels. To meet these demands manufacturers have designed machinery to help meet production targets and with vessels getting larger, so has the need for larger material handling equipment grown to match the vessels.

We travelled to Enns in Austria to visit Danubia Speicherei (DS) a forward-thinking port operator who has invested heavily in the latest material handling technology not only to meet current customer demands, but to futureproof themselves when it comes to offering the ability to handle both larger and more vessels.

Sitting on the banks of the Danube, the port has been occupied for many years with DS, the most recent owner investing heavily to bring the location to its true potential. 

Georg Dobesberger is the CEO of DS; “When we took over the location, we realised that there was far more potential for the port thanks to our rail, road and water links. To meet this potential, we needed to invest in equipment to streamline the business and make it more attractive for vessels to come to our quayside rather than our competitor’s. Our main form of unloading material was our two rope cranes. One has been replaced by the 895 E, the other acts as a back-up. And whilst this did the job, it was old, slow and cumbersome for some materials. We spoke to all the main manufacturers before placing an order for an 8400 EQ balance material handler from SENNEBOGEN. We believed this was to be the right machine for our application and it wasn’t until the Bauma in 2019 when we were told of the imminent launch of the 895 E, that we asked if we could change our order! Thankfully, SENNEBOGEN are a very good company to deal with and as our 8400 EQ wasn’t in build, we put our deposit onto the 895 E Hybrid.”

At the time, the 8400 EQ would have been the largest port handling machine in the SENNEBOGEN line up but with the introduction of what is a 420 tonne material handler, the 895 E soon took the mantle of the largest port handling machine in the world.

The 895 E is available on three undercarriage variants; tracked, wheeled, or rails with each undercarriage option being mounted to a gantry frame to allow road or rail vehicles to pass through for quicker loading and unloading. With rails already in place for their existing crane, DS opted for the rail mounted version with engineers at SENNEBOGEN designing the new undercarriage to suit the existing system perfectly. The portal frame offers a clear opening of almost 12m in width with over 5m in height at the widest point and rising to over 6m in the centre of the frame. This frame allows the 895 E Hybrid to straddle two rail lines allowing for maximum flexibility at the site. Access up to the upper structure is via a network of steps, ladders, and catwalks all of which are galvanised to prevent corrosion. The huge upper structure of the crane is home to a 500kW electric motor providing DS with an efficient and environmentally friendly operating solution. The electric motor not only provides emissions benefits but also massively reduces noise emissions from the machine.

Operator Peter Streimelweger is well catered for thanks to SENNEBOGEN’s huge Portcab fitted to the machine. The massive, almost fully glazed structure allows unobstructed views from the operator’s seat allowing Peter to see clearly into the hold of any vessel and into the hopper he loads with material. The Portcab is mounted on SENNEBOGEN’s Skylift system that gives Peter an eye-level view from 5m off the ground right up to almost 16m in the air. “I love the space in the cab!” Peter commented. “You can see everything from here. It’s such a nice place to work. It’s got everything I need.”

The machine supplied to DS has been fitted with SENNEBOGEN’s K35 boom and stick giving a ground level reach of 35m and a potential capacity of up to 50 tonnes. “There are other combinations available but with the K35 set up we can easily unload barges moored two abreast”, Georg commented. The stick has also been equipped with a first for this size of material handler, an OilQuick quick coupler. The quick coupler sits just below the rotator and allows the rapid and safe changeover of attachments when required. “We deal with a variety of materials both loose, as well as pallets, big bags and also repeatedly general and heavy cargo and depending on the weight of each material, we may need to swap our clamshells over or put on a different grab. This can now be done in seconds with no hoses requiring swapping and no pins needing to be removed. It is all done from inside the safety of the cab.” Georg points out. The 895 E Hybrid has been supplied with an 8m3 and 14m3 grab allowing their regular cargoes of fertilizer, salt, and aggregates to be handled.

Almost silent in operation, Peter quietly rolls the 895 E Hybrid along the rails stopping adjacent to a barge moored 5m below the quayside. The large cable reel mounted to the track frame spooling the power cable out as the machine glides along the track. Lifting the cab up to its maximum height he then proceeds to lift the lid off the hopper linked to the site’s conveyor system. With mainly dry cargoes coming to the port, the need to keep the hopper dry ensures that material flows smoothly onto the conveyor. “We have invested in the SENNEBOGEN and have plans to modernise our conveyor system next.” Georg comments. “With an increased capacity on carriage, the SENNEBOGEN will be able to work to its full potential.”

The vessel is loaded with aggregate and will take Peter just a few hours to unload, almost halving the time the old crane used to take. The operation is slick and steady with Peter grabbing 8m3 of material at a time and loading the hopper up. As the material disperses along the conveyor, Peter returns the grab to the vessel’s hold trimming the stone left on the bottom. There is no fuss, no mess, just the steady to and fro of the grab into the vessel’s hold.

Both Georg and Port Manager Karl Reitbauer are extremely pleased with the arrival of the SENNEBOGEN. “It has made a huge difference to what we are able to do in a day”, Karl commented. “We know it is a reliable machine and one that will last for many years.”