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Patented Invention For The Ports Sector Improves Safety And Efficiency For The Unloading Of Dry Bulk Cargoes

When unloading dry bulk cargo such as coal, soy or biomass, there is one stage in the process that still relies on manual workers. Stevedores must dislodge deposits that gather around the ship’s interior by hand. It is this hazardous and time consuming process that prompted the invention of the DB1 Vibrotrim which removes the need for manual workers in such a potentially dangerous environment.

The DB1 Vibrotrim is the brainchild of Darren Bemrose, who has worked in the ports industry for over 20 years and runs ship discharge operation Westfield Plant and Management from the busy port of Immingham. 

As MD of Westfield Plant and Management, Darren Bemrose had previously pioneered the ‘Westfield Way’ which swapped out men and skid steers for excavators in the ship trimming process. This change to excavators effectively used the benefits of excavator design and the safety aspects of the operator being within the ‘safe zone’ of the excavator cabin.

Despite all these safety improvements, however, one problem remained; manual workers were still required to go into the ship’s hold and dislodge cargo deposits the excavator could not reach. 

Darren Bemrose, tells us more about this problem and how his new invention, the DB1 Vibrotrim, solves this issue:

“The nature of dry bulk cargoes such as coal, soya and cement often resulted in cargo being ‘stuck’ to the hull ribs of the ship and around structures such as ladders and pipework. The solution was for stevedores to dislodge manually with long-handled scrapers, but this was putting workers into highly hazardous environments using slow, manual techniques to dislodge cargo.

“I thought there had to be a better way than using ‘men with sticks’ so started to develop the concept of the Vibrotrim

“I knew that the excavator was the key. The arm of the excavator could reach these areas but the bucket was too clumsy and large. If I could devise an accessory that attached to the excavator arm, it would mean there was no need for the stevedores to enter the ship’s hold as the excavator operator could perform this task. Having an operator in the protection zone of the excavator cab is much safer than a stevedore climbing down into the hold amongst all the loose cargo.”

The next few years saw Darren develop a series of prototypes, testing them out and getting patents in place. 

Darren Bemrose explains:

“There are some attachments on the market already, but these all have to be swapped with the bucket when needed. In a ship’s hold environment this means the excavator would need to be lifted out of the hold onto the quayside every time the attachment needed to be fitted, causing delays and additional costs.

“The Vibrotrim is permanently fitted to an excavator arm. When the bucket is in use, it sits out of the way along the excavator arm. When the discharge reaches a point where the stuck cargo needs to be dislodged, and stevedores would usually come into the ship’s hold, the Vibrotrim is extended and is operated by the excavator operator to dislodge the cargo.

“The Vibrotrim uses an extended vibrating tip to ‘shake’ the cargo deposits. And, because the tip is spring mounted it does not cause damage to the ship’s hull or fixtures.”

The DB1 Vibrotrim was launched at the Dry Bulk Terminals Group Conference in October 2019 where Darren gave a talk on Port Safety. Since launch there has been interest from the UK ports and also companies worldwide, including the USA.

Darren Bemrose concludes:

“Wherever cargoes such as coal, soya and bio fuel are unloaded. The DB1 Vibrotrim can help make the process safer and more efficient. I am very excited about the opportunities there are for this technology worldwide and proud that it has come from the Humber region.”

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