New MLS' on the way
Ten new Multi Loader Stackers (MLS) are being delivered to CBH sites across the state, ready to help with the significant task of outloading the record crop.
The mighty MLS plays an essential role in CBH’s outloading process, lauded for its flexibility by those who use them.
“Basically, you can’t outload grain without them,” Duncan Gray, General Manager – Grower and Operations said.
“MLS’ are so useful for many reasons, but essentially it comes down to mobility – on site we are able to switch between different programs, bulkheads and commodities quickly.”
“Where fixed stackers are slow and difficult to move, you can easily move between open bulkheads as required.”
It’s why CBH is investing in more MLS, with 10 already delivered in two years – and plans to continue increasing the fleet size in the coming years.
The technological improvements that have been made to the MLS design over the years has also contributed to its popularity.
New MLS models have cameras and the ability to control them remotely via a 7-inch Tough Pad, which provides operators with that aforementioned flexibility.
“It’s what makes MLS’ great for intrasilo truck movements and outloading,” Duncan said.
“The ability to remote control the MLS’ is so important, and it means you can actually load a truck with just one person – a driver can move their truck, start up the MLS, hit pause to move the trailer along, finish filling and then move on.”
“It’s such a good machine and we have experimented over the years to refine the design. The first MLS’ were a mix of diesel and electric, and could load at 20 tonnes per hour. Now they average 600 tonnes per hour but can reach a max of 750 tonne per hour, and can load a truck between six to eight minutes.”
Long-term planning fuels new equipment orders
In addition to the ten new MLS’, eight new Drive-Over Grid (DOG) stackers are scheduled to make their way into key sites across the network in time for this year’s harvest.
To support MLS operation and outloading, nine new L60F model front end loaders (FEL) will be delivered across the network in time for harvest this year, with a further 12 L60H model FEL’s to be deployed in 2024.
Also filling the order books is additional fixed equipment – Conveyor Loading Systems (CLS) which include stackers and auger pits – to be installed at new open bulkheads at expansion projects to improve inloading and outloading.
It’s all part of a significant procurement program that began in 2021 with the CBH Network Planning team to ensure the Co-operative has sufficient equipment to receive Western Australia’s growing receival task.
By the time 2022 arrived – and with the prospect of a second record harvest on the horizon – more orders were made, this time expanding to more MLS and CLS systems.
The latest total is now at over 10 MLS’, 20 DOG’s, 11 full CLS sets – including 22 stackers and 11 auger pits – since 2021. This year, an additional three auger pits were added to the order book for the fixed rail loading facilities being built as part of the first four Rapid Rail and Outloading Projects under construction this year.
That’s a lot of equipment to be built and delivered in two years and demonstrates how critical this equipment is – not only for grower’s experience when delivering grain, but also for operations to outload grain efficiently, therefore improving supply chain performance.
Cody Thomas is a Specialist – Fabrication Packages at CBH and heads up the team responsible for the procurement, manufacture and delivery of all new proprietary equipment, which includes MLS’, DOG’s and CLS systems.
Having started his career at CBH as an apprentice boilermaker tasked with building stackers and other types of equipment, Cody knows the ins and outs of making, modifying and maintaining this proprietary equipment and gladly shares his knowledge with the partners and suppliers who make them.
“I’m always out there working with the fabricators and discussing the build process with them,” Cody said.
“I used to make this equipment, so I have a lot of pride when it comes to making sure everything is up to spec, which is why today I work so closely with our suppliers to achieve the same standard and quality.”