UAE: With a growing global reputation for fast, efficient handling and reliable distribution, Saqr Port in the northern United Arab Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is the biggest bulk handling port in the Middle East. The acquisition of Volvo L350F wheel loaders is helping make light work of heavy loads.
Unique in the world in its handling of a huge variety of commodities, such as clinker, silica, sand, coal, cement, aggregates and limestone, throughput at Saqr has increased by 100% in just two years. Handling vessels of up to 260 meters long, the port boasts an occupancy rate of 85% of its 12 berths over a year-round 24/7 operation.
Neighboring Qatar, with a lack of usable aggregate quarries due to its geological profile, is one of the major destinations for vessels leaving Saqr Port. “With the growth of infrastructure development in Qatar we have witnessed a real upsurge in demand for aggregates from here in the UAE,” explains the port’s General Manager Captain Colin Crookshank. India is a key destination for vessels leaving Saqr Port. “Limestone in the northern Emirates is of extraordinarily high purity and a much sought after commodity, particularly in steel manufacturing. Consequently, much of the Indian steel industry’s limestone comes through this facility.”
Handling 50 million tonnes of material a year is a massive undertaking but one made possible in part thanks to efficient, powerful and operator-friendly wheel loaders
from Volvo CE.
Capt. Crookshank explains: “Historically, Saqr Port had Volvo L150 wheel loaders in its fleet – purchased around 1992/1993 and still running today with over 50,000 hours on the clock – but in recent decades bigger machines from other manufacturers took hold.”
That was until 2012 when the port trialed a Volvo L350F for a month. With what Capt. Crookshank describes as “excellent support” from FAMCO, the Volvo CE dealer in the UAE, a second L350F was followed by a third in June last year.
Equipped with 6.8m³ rock buckets, the L350F wheel loaders are now working 22 hours each and every day.
“I am extremely impressed with the performance and the rate of work,” continues Capt. Crookshank. “Essentially, each L350F replaces two other machines so are kinder to the environment while making the site even safer, thanks in part to less vehicle movement and also to the enhanced safety features that are standard on Volvo CE machines. Furthermore, our operators think the machines are fantastic and that too aids productivity.
“Another key element that we’ve noticed with the Volvo wheel loaders is that there’s less degradation of the material than we’ve experienced with other wheel loaders. This is critical for a business such as ours where we should strive every day to reduce, and ideally eradicate, any damage to the materials we’re handling.”
While Saqr Port has good in-house maintenance, Capt. Crookshank says that FAMCO – part of the Al-Futtaim Group, one of the largest privately owned businesses in the Gulf – has proved itself an excellent partner, providing operator and technical training as well as all the reassurances that come with the Volvo Customer Support Agreements (CSAs) and extended warranties.
“With the Volvo CareTrack system monitoring the
machines and the CSAs in place to take the strain, we are absolutely confident that we will be able to turn to FAMCO should anything go wrong with the loaders,” says Capt. Crookshank. “That said, so far all three L350Fs have run
like clockwork and we’ve had no problems whatsoever, despite them always being in use, either loading cargo or clearing berths.
Capt. Crookshank is justifiably proud of the port’s ISO accreditation for quality management. “Our success to date and in the future is based on a high standard of operations without affecting the rate of return. I know the Volvo DNA has safety and quality at its core, and we have already seen this with the L350F wheel loaders and the stance taken by staff from FAMCO. I certainly believe you’ll see more Volvo machines at Saqr Port.”
A final word about the L350F goes to operator Sukhcharan Sing who spends 12 hours a day at the controls: “This machine is very good and powerful. It is comfortable, there’s great all-round visibility and the controls are easy to use. Compared to other makes of machine, this is definitely the most powerful and easy to use for piling. It’s the machine I want to use when I come to work.”