Mining & Resources

Reducing project cargo constraints through floating deck transhipment system

13 Mar 2014, by Test Test

Dampier Floating Deck installation at the end of the Dampier Cargo Wharf
Dampier Floating Deck installation at the end of the Dampier Cargo Wharf

The Port of Dampier is the world’s second largest bulk export port and one of Australia’s most remote ports. As trade grows, so does the importance of efficient and competitive supply chains and to deal with this demand, Dampier Port is developing a “world first” port expansion using a floating deck transhipment system (FDTS) and a separate floating deck forward supply base (the DFD). In the lead-up to the 2014 Bulk Materials Handling Conference, concept designer, project developer and the port’s COO, Captain Paul Toussaint-Jackson joins us for an update on these solutions.

What was the rationale and inspiration for designing and developing the floating deck transhipment system (FDTS) and the Dampier Floating Deck (DFD)?  

Captain Paul Toussaint-Jackson: The FDTS was actually derived from my original design, the Dampier Floating Deck (DFD) which is being installed at the port from early next year. While the DFD is designed to address constraints on the oil and gas platform service supply chain the FDTS is intended to problem solve constraints on what I term the inwards industrial supply chain. That is to say construction materials, machinery, consumables, modular housing and pre-assembled modules required for project development and maintenance in the Pilbara. These two critical supply chains have historically conflicted over port infrastructure that is too small. The result of this inefficiency is the extensive oversize haulage movements on coastal highway.

To solve the problem using conventional infrastructure would take very large sums of money and years of development.  From my past experience in private operations in remote regions I applied the paradigm of doing the most with the least and in the shortest possible time to assist industry. I realised that ‘buy in’ from private industry could occur if the logistics benefits could be clearly demonstrated and capital costs could be kept far lower than the alternative in dredging and wharves. I wanted to demonstrate that shallow bathymetry could be used as a logistics resource rather than as an expensive problem. I also wanted to demonstrate that capacity in the port could be increased without the need for government funds: neither the DFD or the FDTS requires capital investment from the State. Finally, as an Australian I wanted to demonstrate that we could address our logistics productivity issues by ‘working smarter not harder’.

Paul Toussaint-Jackson
Paul Toussaint-Jackson

Beyond the specific infrastructure design I also realised that the floating deck concepts form logistics systems and that this was the key understanding to communicate to proponents. In the case of the DFD it is a forward supply base function with additional berths designed to improve vessel cycle rates out to the platforms therefore increasing charter efficiency and reducing costs for the production and exploration firms.

In the case of the FDTS it is a cargo liner facilitation system enabling the largest vessels to call at the port and be turned around quickly. Currently smaller project cargo vessels call at the port but can experience extensive delays and demurrage costs.  The FDTS will provide opportunity for genuine scheduled, international liner cargo services to operate directly to Dampier for the first time.

Under the DFD project, a giant floating deck will provide a forward supply base for the largest offshore support vessels with fuel, drilling mud, consumables and direct road-haul access onto the Dampier cargo wharf.

What are some of the key benefits the floating deck systems offer bulk handling capability?

Captain Paul Toussaint-Jackson: The floating deck systems developed for Dampier can be adapted for a wide range of applications that would suit the bulk handling industry. This ranges from:

  • Facilitation of inwards cargo for construction including very large modular cargo and machinery using shallow bathymetry
  • Support base;
  • The use of the decks as platforms for conveyors and ship loaders.

The FDTS project includes a significant new land-backed facility that will provide cargo hardstand, quarantine wash bay and customs premises – how will this impact mining developments?

Captain Paul Toussaint-Jackson: In respect of Dampier the FDTS facility will enable a complete reduction in the current constraints for project cargo and construction equipment imported into the Northwest. This is because at present there is constraint on the inwards industrial supply chain including project cargo for mining operations due to a lack of berth capacity and stacking and handling areas. Vessels bringing in equipment, machinery and other supplies for the mining industry can experience extensive delays.

The FDTS together with the DFD will provide more than 300 metres of new berth line: the FDTS can be readily expanded to provide additional berth line of required. This will mean much greater access for visiting vessels.

P14R17 - Bulk Materials Handling - Final WEB PDF (Updated)-1The FDTS landside facility will provide 5 hectares of space for staging and handling import/export cargo including giant pre-assembled modules (PAMs).  The FDTS acts as a logistics ‘shock absorber’ reducing the reliance on truck cycles working with the ship’s cranes. Instead cargo can be stacked in the FDTS facility to be handled over time. The FDTS facility therefore provides the basis for a genuine cargo terminal facility in the Northwest.

The quarantine washdown facility and customs approved premises both provide important assistance in risk managing imported project and general cargo.

The FDTS enables prompt access to the largest project and general cargo vessels including direct calls from overseas: this allows whole new inwards supply chain opportunities for those constructing and operating mines in the Northwest.

Could you see a floating deck trans-shipment system or floating deck facility working at other ports around Australia?

Captain Paul Toussaint-Jackson: Yes, I have already been looking at a few ports outside of our region. This infrastructure can be used in either developed ports or greenfield sites and I believe it has a significant future given it is robust, safe, rapidly established and at a much lower capital cost. I must stress however that the infrastructure is part of a logistics system: the logistics complementarity with the site must be established for the infrastructure to provide full value.

Captain Paul Toussaint-Jackson will be presenting at the 2014 Bulk Materials Handling Conference, to be held on the 29-30 April in Perth. His talk will address Floating Deck Solutions for the Pilbara and beyond. The Annual Bulk Materials Handling Conference is an expert led forum focusing on the engineering behind the latest expansions and upgrades of bulk materials facilities. This conference will evaluate the latest engineering feats that are creating record levels of throughput whilst minimising downtime. For more information, please visit the Bulk Material Handling website.

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