Lyttelton Port Company Hoppers

Assistance with CapEx proposal for wharf hoppers upgrade

Services Used: Engineering Design, Hazard Assessment & Safety


The project was to assist Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) in the preparation of a CapEx proposal for the upgrade of four wharf hoppers used to unload various products from ship to load out trucks. The company are considering investing capital in these hoppers so that they can stay in operation for the next 20 years.

MEL were engaged by LPC to look at various issues regarding these hoppers for inclusion in the CapEx proposal:

  1. Feasibility study to increase and standardise the height of the hoppers
  2. Safety audit on platforms, walkways, ladders
  3. Prepare and review Safe Access Solutions into the hopper
1. Feasibility Study to Increase the Hopper Height.

Because some clients have to send smaller trucks from their fleet in order to fit under the main hopper beams this results in extra expense, lost opportunity and lower efficiency.

The first part of the study was to select a suitable height increase and determine the safety aspects. A 3D model of the wharf hopper was developed using site measurements and existing hopper drawings. The best option to modify the hoppers and achieve the height increase was selected and a 3D model created. Analysis was carried out in line with AS1170 using Finite Element Modelling (FEA), overturning stability and structural capacity were analysed.

A CapEx for the proposed modifications was prepared to include structural, electrical and hydraulic changes.

2. Safety audit on platforms, walkways and ladders.

The client requested that MEL carry out a compliance assessment against AS1657 Fixed Platforms, walkways, stairways, and ladders. An audit was completed for each hopper and individual reports prepared highlighting any gaps with the standard.
The current arrangement requires personnel to access the top platform through a hatch arrangement. It is likely that when modifications are made to bring the ladder in line with current standards, that the arrangement will be altered so that personnel will ascend the ladder then step onto the platform, and remove the requirement for the hatch.

3. Prepare and review safe access solutions.

The client requested that MEL carry out a review of some safe access solutions. Access into the hoppers and onto the grizzly screen is required on an ad hoc basis to break up oversized materials that do not pass through. Access is also required to clean the hopper between load-out of different products.
The existing access method onto the screens is considered unsafe by staff due to the risk of a fall. The aim of the project was to develop 3 to 4 concept solutions that will provide safe access into the hopper.
A modular, easily assembled high level solution was prepared and the relative merits assessed.


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