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Weightron’s weighing equipment helps keep the grain moving at Tilbury

Specialist weighing equipment, instrumentation and software produced by Chesterfield based Weightron Bilanciai plays an important role at Tilbury Grain Terminal, owned and managed by Forth Ports Ltd.

The equipment includes high-speed hopper weighing scales for bulk loading and off-loading, and a newly installed weighbridge with an integrated vehicle messaging board system to manage vehicle movement.

Weightron also have a comprehensive onsite service contract, which covers nine bulk hopper scales and five weighbridges. Given the round-the-clock operation of the port, the contract includes a four hour response time, seven days a week.

Tilbury Grain Terminal, which celebrated its half century in June 2019, is the largest combined import and export grain terminal in the UK. It has its own dedicated riverside deep-water berth and 200 separate silos capable of holding between 60 and 200 tonnes of grain. It is capable of handling deep sea vessels up to 70,000 tonnes with draughts of up to 12.5 m through its dedicated jetty and has two dedicated coaster loading berths. This results in a yearly capacity of two million tonnes split between import and export.  A recently completed automatic fill, flat storage extension facility has increased the terminal’s total storage capacity by 16,000 tonnes to 136,000 tonnes.

Weightron have already upgraded the bulk weigh hopper located at Berth 5. Such totalising weighers are used extensively for the bulk weighing of free-flowing granular materials in a diverse range of applications including: ship loading and offloading, silo material transfer and batch feeding.

The existing controller has been replaced using the company’s powerful DD2050HS hopper controller, whilst the existing load cells have been retained, following a full mechanical and electrical health check.

Based on Weightron’s well established DD2050 touch screen weight terminal, the weights and measures approved HS version has been specially developed to meet the demands for high-speed and accurate weighing of a wide range of bulk materials at ports and terminals.  The instrument features a large, user-friendly 300 mm touch screen that provides a comprehensive graphic interface for the operator with full alphanumeric capability for data entry together with images of the hopper scale. The operator can clearly follow the weighing process on screen and, in addition, the USB interface can be used for the connection of a remote keyboard and printer. Print-outs can be set up to provide all key data from a particular run.

The controller is ideal for new installations or upgrading existing discontinuous hopper scales which use outdated and standalone technology. The DD2050HS can connect directly with existing load-cell based hopper scales, without the need for additional instrumentation. It provides all the necessary inputs and outputs to control the whole weighing process. Versatile fine and coarse set-points ensure pinpoint material flow cut off accuracy and speed.

Weightron engineers are now in the process of upgrading the bulk weighing system on one of the port’s two legendary Marine Leg ship-unloaders, the main component of which are two rail-mounted, mobile Marine Towers. These mobile bucket elevator unloaders, based on the well-known North American ‘Great Lakes’ design, have handled millions of tonnes of grain over the past five decades and have a capacity of around 1000 tonnes per hour. They are kept in excellent working order and are a key element of the grain operations at the port.

Grain is elevated from the ship’s hold via the Marine Leg bucket elevator up into the tower where it drops into the bottom of a second elevator (known as the Jack Leg). This in turn then elevates the grain again into the upper garner. This is essentially a fully enclosed 200 tonnes hopper, directly above the weighing scale. The scale feed gates are at the bottom of the garner; grain flows into the scale, is weighed and then discharged into the next elevator (known as the Lofter Leg) via the lower garner ready for the next batch. The lower garner is basically a surge bin to prevent the elevator choking. It is then elevated again onto the conveying system and transported back for storage in the terminal’s main silo complex.

The individual batch weights are totalized to provide the total weight of material transported over a given time. Accuracy and speed are crucial for optimum throughput efficiency, ensuring ships spend the minimum of time at the quayside.

When completed, the DD2050HS system will be connected via Weightron’s powerful Centerpoint, a multi-lingual software and integrated with Tilbury’s port management software implemented by the TBA Group.

Centerpoint can be installed on a standard Windows PC or Windows Server. It supports Orders, Planning operations and Product route control, whilst handling Stock management. CenterPoint collects the Start report, each Batch report and the Stop report of each operation. The software can integrate with third party ERP systems such as SAP, providing the user with extensive data import/export capabilities at single or multiple locations, both online and offline. The full capabilities of the multi-lingual can be realized when one or more hopper scales are connected on the network

Warren Betts, the port’s Engineering and Quality Manager for Grain and Bulks is very pleased with the service provided by Weightron: “We have established a strong working relationship with Weightron and they understand our requirements. Given the dynamic round- the-clock operations at Tilbury, it is essential we have comprehensive support backup for weighing equipment. Any unwanted delays are expensive for us and our clients. In parallel, we are always looking to improve our efficiency. Their high speed hopper scale controller allows us to upgrade existing scales in a very cost effective way, whilst improving product throughput and data collection. The new weighbridge and messaging system will streamline vehicle movement at the terminal, especially at busy times.”

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