BREAKBULK and heavy-lift operator AAL has deployed multi-lift vacuum units – for the first time in Australia – for the discharge of pipes for Qube.
The cargo, 24,996 steel-coated pipes units, 18 metres in length, weighing a total of 13,386 tonnes, was loaded in Baoshan, China and was discharged in Darwin via AAL’s global tramp and chartering service, and its S-Class multipurpose heavy-lift vessel, AAL Bangkok.
This was the first time that this lifting technology, which uses multiple vacuum pads to attach and lift the pipes, has been deployed in an Australian port.
The cargo was delivered by AAL to Darwin for the Bao Australia pipeline, for which Qube has been contracted for cargo discharge and landside operations for the Tanami Gas Pipeline Project.
Traditionally, pipeline handling operations are handled by hooking up the pipe during vessel discharge.
Landside activity has also typically harnessed crane and pipe grappling hooks for handling. However AAL and Qube deployed the use of these innovative multi-lift vacuum units for the entire discharge operation in Darwin.
AAL head of transport engineering Nicola Pacifico said in using the multi-lift vacuum units, safety risks were reduced by eliminating the use of hooks.
“Data analysed before, during, and after the operation demonstrated increased productivity, improved risk mitigation and ultimately cost savings that could be passed down to our customers,” he said.
“The use of this technology also added to the quality of the operation, thanks to the improved and less abrasive handling which protected the integrity of the pipeline coating.”
AAL chartering and operations director Namir Khanbabi said: “At AAL, we’ve always been keen to explore new innovations that can generate greater efficiency and productivity in our operations, as well as partnering with like-minded partners, such as Qube, who share our commitment to driving up safety and quality standards.”
Qube general commercial manager Dean Wells said the company had been looking for a better way to handle pipelines during the stevedoring process that would improve productivity, quality and safety, compared to the traditional use of hooks.
“Never before seen in Australia, this multi-lift vacuum technology delivers a major step-change in pipeline handling operations and Qube is looking forward to partnering with AAL on many more pipeline projects into the future,” he said.