Tips for making the most of your next portside project

Although portside property comes at a premium, many companies are willing to pay the price for one obvious reason: easy access to shipping.

But buying land on the water comes with its own limitations, like less land for the money, water-saturated soils and environmental considerations too. With this in mind, pre-planning becomes essential for making the most of a port project. Here are a few suggestions for planning such a project:

Making design decisions

Oftentimes those who buy land on a port get less property for their money, requiring smart decisions to achieve the needed storage on a smaller parcel of land.

It’s important to research site requirements before plans begin, and often the best way to make the most of portside property is to build vertical, rather than horizontal, storage.

Choosing the best foundation for wet soils

Innovative foundation options allow customers to remediate less-than-desirable soils, sometimes at a lower expense and with a shallower foundation than expected.

An experienced engineering team will provide options that best complement a specific site, whether a shallow foundation or a deep foundation is required.

Optimizing material-handling systems

Selecting the ideal conveyor system requires an understanding of the stored product and innovative conveyor systems that uses less property. A belt-conveyor system, for instance, requires significant linear footage; as the belt climbs, the material wants to slide backward, so the angle of incline has to be adjusted accordingly. Looking at options beyond the traditional can shorten conveyor distances, often accomplished by increasing traction within the conveyance system.

Loading and unloading

The typical model for unloading product is a 20- to 30-foot-deep pit with a hopper that moves product onto a feeder conveyor coming out of the ground. But for facilities near water and with soggy soils, the pit’s excavating, dewatering and waterproofing costs alone are prohibitive.

Systems are available for unloading at grade or into a shallow pit. For instance, a rail car might pull directly over one of the Ashross RUM models, which provide either shallow in-ground or above-grade conveyance via a walking floor. Facility managers have to allow time for the system to unload the product, rather than just dropping it and advancing the cars, but customers can save on pit size.

Protecting the environment

Port code enforcement is rigorous, and one advantage with domes is that the structure is airtight, reducing or eliminating the chance of byproduct escaping the structure. Silos crafted by a continuous concrete pour from bottom to top are also seamless and discourage byproduct escape.

To read the full article, visit the April issue of Ports & Terminals, a World Cement publication.