Thursday 18th Aug, 2022

Page Macrae the first port of call for dust control

Reducing dust and spillage is key for ports that must comply with strict environmental regulations. New Zealand-based Page Macrae Engineering specialises in solutions for both.

Reducing dust and spillage is key for ports that must comply with strict environmental regulations. New Zealand-based Page Macrae Engineering specialises in solutions for both.

When it comes to dry bulk cargoes, one of Victoria’s busiest ports is working with Page Macrae Engineering on a dust control solution.

The port sees more than 11 million tonnes of product across a range of industry segments, including wood chip, fertiliser and break-bulk cargo flowing through it to the tune of more than $7 billion worth of trade.

Handling dusty dry bulk cargoes must be done following state environmental protection guidelines, with operators required to do everything in their power to reduce the chance of dust emissions and spillage contaminating the local environment.

The port reached out to Page Macrae Engineering to help replace their current equipment, to ensure it could continue to meet their obligations.

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Peter Swan, General Manager of Sales and Marketing at Page Macrae Engineering, says the company needed a versatile solution, as the port services many different customers and materials. They required equipment to load out to trucks or switch to conveyors filling the port’s warehouses.

“We have worked with the port for many years and began drawing up several concept designs, informed by site visits,” he says.

“After evaluating different options with the client, we settled on a proposal for two rail-mounted dust controlled port hoppers with a bespoke rotating discharge conveyor arrangement.”

The hoppers include a robust system with a focus on dust containment. The hopper’s dust control and filtration systems minimise dust emissions into the air and spillage onto the wharf, enabling the port to keep its operation clean without impacting productivity.

Special attention has been paid to ensure the hoppers can integrate into the versatile operation. They have been designed to be easy to clean when food-grade grain needs to be handled and are rugged enough to handle more dusty and abrasive materials.

Page Macrae Engineering also included a radio link in the design. This allows the hoppers to communicate with other equipment such as conveyors to manage the feeding process and assist customers that require batch weighing into trucks.

Swan adds that a lot of effort goes into educating the operators on how to properly use the machinery.

“We make sure our team are on hand to teach the operators the ins and outs of the system and run them through what to do in the field while a vessel is being unloaded.” he says, “We have found that most operators prefer this one-on-one, hands-on environment.”

Page Macrae Engineering is based in New Zealand and has equipment in major ports around Australia. With such a large international customer base, its staff are constantly on the move, visiting sites and customers.

Bruce Ennis, Business Development Manager – Product Solutions at Page Macrae Engineering, says getting out of the office and meeting the client is the first step for the company’s engineers, as it helps them get a good grasp of the issues at hand.

“It’s not about us going over there and knowing what’s best, because most of the time, the site staff know what the issues are and what they need to fix them,” Ennis says.

The company has more than 60 years of experience when it comes to engineering solutions for bulk handling ports, with more than 200 skilled team members.

This knowledgebase has helped Page Macrae Engineering develop a suite of solutions that have found homes in ports around the world. Some of its most popular products are the Enviro-Max range of dust-controlled hoppers and bulk grabs, designed in consultation with operating staff, port authorities and stakeholders to ensure a site gets a fit-for-purpose solution for their operation.

The company also provides a range of mechanical wire and chain and diesel-hydraulic grabs for operators looking to keep operating costs low while maintaining high productivity and digging capacity.

With a low centre of gravity, the grabs can be operated on steep cargo profiles without rollover, allowing for a safer and more productive discharge.

They are ideal for difficult to handle cargos such as soda ash and fertiliser, as the overlapping blade seal and serrated bucket teeth minimise product loss and dust emissions.

Ennis says when it comes to product development, Page Macrae Engineering’s customers predominantly value simplicity.

“We’ve learned they’re looking for machines that are simple to operate, clean and maintain. They want dust control and want to minimise operating costs. This is why we are focusing on providing efficient dust control outcomes without interruption to business.”