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Charleston Bulk Transfer Enjoys Ongoing Success With Sennebogen

The success enjoyed by Charleston Bulk Transfer (CBT) over the past several years can be tied directly to one dynamic piece of machinery found at a company pier on Charleston, S.C., Cooper River.

Wed April 02, 2014 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

The success enjoyed by Charleston Bulk Transfer (CBT) over the past several years can be tied directly to one dynamic piece of machinery found at a company pier on Charleston, S.C., Cooper River.

A Sennebogen 880 R-HD, weighing in at a massive 310,000 lbs. (140,613 kg), is a behemoth material-handling machine. It has been moving bulk cargo for CBT on the river bank since 2007.

In addition, it is known for its durability, reliability and fuel efficiency, among other attributes, according to Turner Fabian, CBT president.

“The Sennebogen 880 really impressed us from the day we bought it,” said Fabian. “We had the 870 model beforehand and the 880 proved to be even better than what Sennebogen had promised — and more.”

They Call Him ’Big Jack’

CBT’s Sennebogen 880 was the first of its model line sold in North America when it was purchased by the firm in 2007. It was then dubbed “Big Jack” in honor of CBT’s founder, Jack Maybank Sr. who had passed away earlier in the year.

Moving coal shipped in from South America has been “Big Jack’s” main function ever since. However, Fabian said that as domestic natural gas began to cut into the foreign coal import business, he started renting the 880 out to other local firms to move their materials, such as sand.

“We rented the machine to another company for a project here in Charleston two years ago and in about a year and a half they moved 2 million cubic yards of sand working straight time only Monday through Friday with this 880,” Fabian said. “That was a process where the 880 was on a work barge unloading sand from super jumbos to dump trucks. A super jumbo is a 260-foot by 60-foot by 14-foot bulk barge that holds about 3,000 tons of sand.”

A New Sennebogen to Arrive

Now, Fabian has purchased a new Sennebogen 875 R-HD “E” series material handler from Charlotte-based ASC Construction Equipment USA Inc. that was on display at the recent ConExpo-Con/AGG equipment trade show in Las Vegas. He plans to put it into operation on the Cooper River by the end of March to help move materials for CBT clients.

In the coming weeks, Fabian looks forward to using the powerful new Sennebogen 875E, which will be known as “Lil’ Jack,” but he also is looking for more opportunities to rent or sell the reliable 880 material handler.

And, with the slowdown in the foreign coal import market, he is open to renting out the 875E when CBT is not using it.

“We would like to get the 875 out there and rented, too,” Fabian said. “We will look at any operation just so long as they can guarantee the safety of the machine and get it serviced properly. Obviously we will not rent to any competitors here in the Charleston area, but we would rent it anywhere else around the country if the opportunity presented itself.”

Fabian said that he views the new 875E as being favorably comparable to “Big Jack” in every way.

“We see it as being as mobile as the 880, more fuel efficient, and we see that there is a market out there for a machine of this size,” he said. “Not too many dealerships are like ASC and have them sitting on their lots, either. If something breaks down on these big material handlers there are few of them out there for rent, so that’s why we are going to be in the rental market.”

Fabian and CBT looked at and test drove several different large material handlers by other manufacturers before deciding that the Sennebogen 880 and, later, the 875E would best fit their needs.

For instance, they tested one machine by a major equipment maker, but it could only move about 9,000 tons (8,165 t) of coal from a barge to a hopper on a good day, Fabian said, which fell short of the 10,000 tons (9,072 t) that most ships want moved in a single day.

“We wanted to make sure that we not only would be well within that range but exceed it so the Sennebogen was the best way to go with that,” Fabian said.

CBT and ASC: An Excellent Partnership

Fabian credits ASC for helping CBT decide that the Sennebogen 880 was the proper machine for them. In addition, the outstanding service provided by ASC over the years also helped him decide to buy the new 875E.

“The relationship between ASC and CBT has been huge,” Fabian said. “When we got to know ASC, their sales department came down to talk to us and they introduced the mechanical side of the ASC program to us. We have been highly pleased with their service people, their timely response and the quality of the service ASC provides for Sennebogen and CBT.”

Fabian said that he first saw the 875E on a trip to Germany, thinking it was another 880 model.

“Well, I learned that it’s more fuel efficient and it does about everything the 880 can do except that its reach is not as much as the 880, but we really didn’t need it to be, which made it perfect for us,” he said. “So, about four months after I first saw the machine, and after talking with Rob Jordan, material handling segment manager for ASC, we went ahead and purchased the 875, knowing we could probably rent out both machines.”

A Visionary’s Dream

Jack Maybank’s dream was to build a business that revolved around the moving of freight on a waterfront. A stevedore on the Charleston piers in his younger days, he later formed his own shipping companies that worked out of the great ports on the East and Gulf coasts.

That led to the construction of the Charleston Midstream Transfer Facility, located 11 mi. upstream from Charleston Harbor. It is privately owned and serves today as a cutting edge terminal specializing in the movement of dry bulk cargoes.

Large ocean-going vessels of 50,000 to 60,000 tons (45,359 to 54,431 t) bring coal or other cargo into the harbor where the bulk is then moved to barges that are then transported up to the piers.

That is when the Sennebogens swing into action.

Fabian still marvels at “Big Jack’s” skill set — even after several years in his employ.

“Its productivity is limitless and it is scary fast, too,” Fabian said. “It uses a 12-yard clam bucket for our coal operation and picks up about 9 tons of coal every pick with a swing about every 24 seconds to the hopper.”

At that rate, Fabian said that the 880 can load a 3,000-ton (2,722 t) barge in about 3 and a half hours.

“It takes about a half hour to change out barges, so on a good day we can do up to about 18,000 tons of coal and we average about 15,000 tons a day,” he explained. “The Sennebogen 880 and the pier are a perfect fit.”

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