Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Biggest Ore Carrier delivers to Biggest Steel Mill

The worlds largest iron ore carrier, Vale Brasil is scheduled to arrive at Taranto Italy on Wednesday Jul 13th. Her maiden revenue voyage, following load out at Ponta da Madeira Brazil, was originally routed to Dalian China.

Vale (pronounced "valley") diverted the Vale Brasil, at 400,000 dead weight tons, the worlds biggest bulk carrier, to Taranto Italy for "commercial, not political, reasons." There had been speculation among traders that the Vale Brasil was unable to berth at Dalian, China, due to pressure from China's domestic steel industry who had urged authorities to protect their commercial interests.

Regardless of the politics, there is a certain "irony" in that the biggest iron ore carrier in the world, Vale Brasil, will soon be off-loading at Ilva Steel at Taranto, Italy. Ilva is the biggest integrated steel-making plant in Italy and in Europe.

So, just how big is Ilva Steel? Consider these impressive numbers:

  • Structures: 15 million sq meters, or 161.5 m sq feet.
  • Blast Furnaces: 5
  • Rail line: 200 km, or 124 miles
  • Roadway: 50 km, or 31 miles
  • Conveyors: 190 km, or 118 miles
  • Employees: 12,859 (2008)
  • Land area: 10 square km, or 3.8 square miles.
Ilva has an annual production capacity of 9,150,000 metric tons, including coil, plate, pipe.

Within the complex, railways with more than 50 trains and over 1,700 freight cars connect the different production lines; blast furnaces, hot strip mills and so forth.

I traced (red tracks) the two conveyor systems, each about 1½ miles in length leading from the ship unloaders to a massive longitudinal stockyard, patrolled by a squadron of stacker/reclaimers.

To keep track of vehicles in a huge area like the Taranto plant, it was not feasible to use such technologies as sensors or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), deemed too costly and difficult to maintain.

Instead, a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) and a Global Positioning System (GPS) was integrated with a General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), to track virtually all rolling stock on the site, right down to dump trucks!

In 2005, a computer based integrated management solution, developed in conjunction with Microsoft Italy, was activated with the following features:
  • Train tracking with DGPS/GPS/GPRS using Windows-based remote units.
  • Telemetry application to get train data and alarms in real time to prevent damage.
  • Maintenance application to report the trains' usage for planning purposes.
  • Management application integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to manage the daily operations of railway infrastructure.
Follow this link to the Ilva Steel corporate site, and be sure to click on the video provided. It is a driving music video collage of the plant. If the site comes up in Italian, click on the Union Jack for the English version.

In 1990, the Ministry of Environment declared Taranto a high environmental risk area. The poisons discharged into the air by the factories in its territory, make Taranto the most polluted city in Italy and western Europe. Only 7% of Taranto's pollution is inhabitants-related: 93% is factories-related.

Vale expects the Vale China, launched July 10th,to have a Chinese port as her first destination. The first ship "Brasil" was built in South Korea; the "China" built in Nantong China, the first vessel of the Valemax class totally produced in China and financed by Chinese financial institutions.

Story begins at: Vale Brasil Largest Ship in the World.

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