Transport links at the Ludwigshafen site account for a considerable share of overall costs and were thus a core focus of the giant chemical shipper's new digitalised system.
The most important components will be a new design of AGV optimised for rail tank containers instead of having to shunt and form railway tank cars, and a new tank container depot. This combination is expected to lead to a considerable improvement in terms of competitiveness.
“We are launching this innovative leap in logistics at the site and we are a pioneer for the entire industry,” said Site Manager Dr Uwe Liebelt.
The AGV is a worldwide first. Developed together with VDL Group of the Netherlands, it is 16.5m long and has a payload of 78 tonnes. It has 32 wheels and eight steerable axles, so is highly manoeuverable, but does not cause any damage to roads even though it can impose a gross load of up to 100 tonnes The AGV is steered via transponders embedded in the road surface.
It currently takes around 22 hours for a railway tank car to be delivered from BASF’s train station to one of the more than 150 loading stations at the site. With the AGV, this time will be cut to just one hour.
During the current test phase, which runs until July, just one prototype operates within a limited area, where it carries empty containers or containers filled with water and is monitored by a control centre.
The new 45ft and 52ft tank containers were developed by BASF and Belgian tank container manufacturer van Hool based on the technology for 20ft and 30ft tank containers. The BASF class tank containers (B-TC) can be transported with container railway wagons, so they offer greater flexibility than traditional railway tank cars.
The B-TC has a maximum volume of 73,000 litres and a payload of 66 tonnes. meaning its load capacity is double that of today’s typical tank containers and similar to that of a chemical rail tank car. The B-TC can be transported on any kind of railway tracks and can be stored efficiently – up to six can be stacked atop each other. From July, 90 of them will be in use in Ludwigshafen and another 550 will be delivered in 2018.
A fully automated tank container depot is currently under construction at the Ludwigshafen site, equipped with two automated staking cranes, each with a loading capacity of 75 tonnes, to work wagons, trucks and AGVs. depot is scheduled to begin operations in mid-2018.
It is not clear who is supplying the ASCs (or such powerful spreaders!), although the previous RMGs for the existing BASF KTL Ludwigshafen combi-terminal were from Hans Kūnz.