Simple design change will promote safety and improve cargo-handling efficiency at South African ports.

Durban, South Africa, August 15, 2009 --(PR.COM)-- With the support of Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), South Africa’s port operator, a local manufacturer has designed a trailer that will make it safer and easier to move containers from ship to shore. The mammoth delivery of a multimillion rand consignment of 66 new ‘cornerless bathtub’ trailers designed and manufactured by Pretoria-based Afrit, has brought to a close months of intensive market research, supplier scouting and short-listing in a collaborative effort between representatives of TPT’s procurement and technical teams.

The trailers will not only streamline operations and speed up container turnaround times, but also provide a far safer method of moving containers from ship to shore. Sixty trailers have been delivered to Cape Town container terminal as part of the facility’s R4.2 billion capacity creation project while six were delivered to Pier 1 container terminal in Durban.

While essentially serving the same purpose, the new Afrit trailers offer a simple yet effective change: they do not have the closed corners of traditional trailers. This made it difficult to load containers directly onto trailer vehicles and access the corner cone fasteners.

Harry Dickinson, Project Manager at TPT, explains: “Containers stacked on a vessel have twist lock cones at each corner to secure them while in stack. In the past this meant we could not load the container directly from a vessel onto the old trailers until the twist lock cones were physically removed from the container. The container would have to stay suspended at least two metres in the air for a long period of time so the cones could be physically removed.”

This process also posed safety risks: the suspended container or the loosened cones could have fallen and caused serious damage or injury to those working around it.

With the Afrit-designed bathtub trailers, the sides are raised and curved inwards to enable the crane operator to lower the container on to the trailer, where it will locate itself without the operator having to conduct a series of manoeuvres. This saves time in the loading procedure. The new rounded design is already in use at major European ports.

The trailers are of heavy duty construction with a capacity of 65 tons to carry two six metre containers with a combined weight of 60 tons or one fully laden 12 metre container. The axles are supplied by Henred and are 40 ton walking beam design with heavy duty leaf springs. They are fitted with solid puncture tyres which have minimal deflection under impact loading. These, together with the Groeneveld self lubricating system, offer Transnet cost savings by reducing maintenance.

Said Dickinson, “Equipment like this would usually have to be imported from the country that had perfected this unique design. Working with a local supplier throughout this process meant that the end result was beyond all expectations.”

“TPT and Afrit were in constant communication throughout the process. Afrit had initially provided us with a prototype which we tested in operations. This allowed us to make working changes and tweak the design to finally fit the specific needs of our terminals,” said Dickinson.

He said the bathtub trailers were an example of design and manufacture that not only meets the standards of its European counterparts but also caters specifically for South African needs.

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