Greenup, KY – The barges that work their way up to Kentucky full of bauxite ore and alumina on the inland waterways are the lifeblood of America’s aluminum industry. So when the President of McGinnis Inc., Rick Griffith, saw the opportunity to take over a key Kentucky terminal facility, he recognized the chance to build on the company’s growing expertise in loading and unloading services. After acquiring the site last year, Griffith knew it was time to go shopping for new equipment.
McGinnis Inc. has been building and servicing inland river towboats and barges for generations, but material handling equipment is a somewhat newer area for the company. Based in South Point, Ohio, McGinnis operates 5 shipyards and owns more than 40 towboats operating throughout the inland waterways, from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Long known for its harbor service, boat & barge repair and cleaning services, McGinnis has more recently been expanding into material handling services.
At the Greenup County Riverport terminal facility, the primary unloading equipment was an older traditional cable crane that, Griffith decided, was in need of an upgrade.
“We knew we wanted to move to a hydraulic material handler,” he says. “Maintenance costs were high for the cable crane, and cycle times were slow. Our top concerns for a new machine were efficiency, low maintenance, productivity… and simply making sure it could do the job!”
Working with a 4-yard clam bucket, the SENNEBOGEN 840 M material handler at Greenup County Riverport will unload two 1,600-ton barges of bauxite in an 8-hour shift.
Griffith says he didn’t have many contacts among crane distributors in the region, but he did know Todd Williams at Brandeis Machinery & Supply Company. Williams had worked in the river industry for 9 years before joining Brandeis as a sales representative. Griffith had already looked at the hydraulic cranes of a few manufacturers when Williams introduced him to the line of “green machines” from SENNEBOGEN.
“You see the industry moving to hydraulic cranes overall,” Williams notes. He admits that boat repair and service businesses might still have a need for cable cranes for specific lifting requirements, but believes newer hydraulic machines are better for material handling applications. “A hydraulic material handler is much easier to work with than cable cranes. As a boat & barge operator, McGinnis is very fuel conscious, so I knew they would appreciate the efficiency of SENNEBOGEN machines. With their own technicians on staff,” he continues, “they wanted a machine that would be easy to work on, and SENNEBOGEN makes service very simple.”
After he looked at one SENNEBOGEN material handler and got a good report on parts support from Brandeis, Griffith decided to go with a model 840 M fitted with clamshell bucket. The 840 M offers the size and capacity to handle the kinds of material going through the Greenup terminal. Bauxite and brown-fused alumina are very dense materials, heavier than most bulk commodities.
“I actually expected to buy a stationary or crawler unit,” recalls Griffith, “but getting the rubber-tired version saved us some costs and made the crane more versatile. We can drive it off the barge and right into the terminal anytime, even take it up the road if we need to. If its barge has to be somewhere else for any reason, we can drive it off and put the crane onto some other work.”
Williams pointed out that the 840 M was also equipped with a hydraulic elevating cab, one of the manufacturer’s most distinctive standard features. “The elevating cab is great for the barge business,” he claims. “It helps the operators when they’re looking down into the barge; they can see what they’re doing and get more load on each grab.”
Rick Griffith agrees that the elevating cab was a major feature he factored when he decided on the machine. “Most others we saw only have a fixed 6-foot cab raiser. This raised cab gets up 20-feet above deck level. It’s a different look for the operators for sure. The operators love the way it handles.”
Brandeis delivered the 840 M to Greenup in December 2005, and McGinnis has been running it since January 2006. According to Rick Griffith, it was a pretty easy setup. “Just drove it into position, put the outriggers down and turned the key! That was about it.”
Greenup usually runs a single shift each day with the material handler unloading two barges each shift. Griffith is impressed with how quickly the green machine works. “The SENNEBOGEN has a 4-yard clam bucket, but it outperforms a cable crane with an 8-yard bucket. It runs much faster cycle times.” The bottom line for McGinnis is that the new hydraulic crane can unload a 1,600-ton barge in half the time of the cable crane it replaced.
Based on his own experience in barge operations, Todd Williams expects to see more SENNEBOGEN machines at work in river terminals. “Along with the wheeled and crawler-type models, SENNEBOGEN builds a wide range of pedestal cranes. With fuel prices going the way they are, I can also see a lot of terminals interested in a stationary machine with an electric drive. SENNEBOGEN has produced electric drive machines for years as part of their standard product offering, not a feature that has to be specially engineered.”
SENNEBOGEN has been a leading name in the global material handling industry for more than 50 years. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, SENNEBOGEN America offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any heavy lift or "pick & carry" application. A growing network of distributors supports SENNEBOGEN sales and service across the Americas, ensuring the highest standard of professional machine support and parts availability.