The 40t dockside ship unloaders were each fitted with ABB’s crane management system (CMS), which features software capable of mapping the ship superstructure’s layout and then guiding the unloader’s grab along the quickest safe path to the coal being unloaded.

ABB’s CMS software also incorporates control algorithms that account for high water content when unloading cargo from the bottom of a ship’s hold. The software is intended to assist operators in preventing a potential overload of the motors from the added weight.

In addition to the installation of ABB’s CMS, the unloaders had their drive systems replaced with Bus-connected 260kW inverters with 14 motors and DC multidrives for each hoist.

E.ON’s terminal manager Ken Jones said: “We run a safe, clean and reliable operation here. The upgraded system provided by JMS has significantly contributed to operational efficiency, allowing us to meet a tight schedule. This benefits all stakeholders and delivers a modern terminal operation.”

E.ON’s terminal regularly receives shipments that can contain as much as 65,000t of coal on each vessel. With the upgrades to the dockside unloaders now complete, around 25,000t of imported coal can be unloaded each day.

But with heavy fines for E.ON if an unloading operation overruns its allocated unloading time, it is important that everything flows smoothly.

To this end JMS integrated ABB’s AC800 data acquisition system to allow accurate stock monitoring from the facility’s control room.

The AC800 system monitors the stockyard’s coal tonnage and any changes to it as coal is added from each ship or taken from the yard and loaded onto trains for transport.

It allows real-time monitoring of coal stock levels in the yard, displaying the weight of coal movement by rate, allowing detailed operational management.

E.ON’s terminal team leader John McGuigan commented: “The new system gives us insight into what is happening at all times. ABB technology underpins the upgraded coal terminal.”