expert unloading at lantic
On the morning of July 17, longshoremen unload the Federal Swift, a bulk carrier from the Fednav International fleet carrying 35,000 tonnes of raw sugar that had arrived a few days earlier from the Port of Santos, Brazil, the main port in Latin America. It takes five days to unload this huge floating sugar dispenser.
The vessel’s large cargo hold is divided into five smaller holds, each independent of the others for better control of how the sugar is distributed, which in turn balances the load better from one end of the ship to the other.
Each of the five holds is huge and can hold 7,000 tonnes of sugar, for a total of 35,000 tonnes. To get an idea of the size scale, check out the man on top of the stairs on the right side of the photo who is monitoring the unloading.
Unloading a bulk carrier is a team effort that involves three main partners: the marine carrier, in this case Fednav International, the terminal operator, Logistec, and the client, Lantic Inc. Pictured on the left: Marc Rousseau, Manager, Raw Sugar, at Lantic, and on the right: Max Verna, Port Agency Supervisor at Fednav, aboard the Federal Swift.
A longshoreman with 14 years of experience completes his two-month training at the controls of the mobile crane. This is an extremely precise job.
From 80 feet in the air where the cabin, his “work station,” is attached, he has a perfect view of both the ship’s hold and the funnel he will pour the sugar into. The wheeled crane moves easily on the dock. Here it is parked directly in front of the hold to be emptied
Under the watchful eye of his coach, who has 12 years of experience on this crane, the operator lowers the grab bucket into the belly of the ship.
At the end of its long cable, the grab bucket opens its mouth and bites into the mountain of sugar. A single grab is the equivalent of 30 tonnes of sugar, enough to completely fill a truck. The crane can scoop out 500 tonnes of sugar an hour.
Then, the crane pivots toward the funnel designed to receive the sugar and let it pour into the conveyor connected to the refinery.
When the grab bucket is positioned right above the funnel, it opens its jaws and lets the beautiful blond sugar, which looks like beach sand, pour out.
The grab bucket is too big to pick up the sugar against the walls in the hold, so it needs something smaller than itself. A small mechanical shovel literally flies to the giant’s rescue, arriving from high in the air, suspended by cables.
Its role is to undo the mountains of sugar along the sides of the hold and bring it towards the middle to make the grab bucket’s job easier. At the bottom of the hold, the small scoop looks like a toy lost in a sandbox.
From the funnel, the sugar slides into the underground conveyor, and heads upward in the direction of the refinery…
… to flow straight into the raw sugar warehouse. Inside the warehouse, everything is covered in sugar, floor to pillar. It’s sticky and it smells good! Even the sugar scattered on the floor will be recovered. The refining process will thoroughly clean every grain of it and restore all its purity.
The sugar will stay in the warehouse until someone comes to get it for refining.
The power plant produces the energy for all the refinery’s operations. Lantic has made considerable efforts to reduce its energy consumption. These efforts have been so successful that Lantic Inc. earned a reward from the Quebec Association for Energy Management. “Here, modern technology coexists with the original facilities,” said Imane El Assoss, the production planner in the Supply Chain Department.
At the start of the refining process, the sugar will be washed and dissolved in warm water to remove its impurities, then filtered and clarified. Next, a specific quantity of water is evaporated to crystallize the sucrose molecules. These crystals are then separated from the syrup in centrifuges. This last step produces white granulated sugar. This sugar is dried in rotary dryers called granulators. As for how brown sugar is manufactured, there are as many ways as there are sugar cane refineries in the world. Each has its own manufacturing secrets.
Once refined, the sugar is stored in two silos that can each hold 5,000 tonnes of bulk.
Several production lines make it possible to package the sugar in various formats to meet clients’ needs. Lantic also supplies bulk granulated sugar and liquid sugar.
Rail lines on Lantic Inc. grounds enable the Port of Montreal to deliver empty rail cars or pick up cars full of granulated or liquid sugar. Five to six cars, each carrying 90 tonnes of sugar, leave the refinery every day, headed to Lantic’s distribution centre in Toronto or to clients. “Sugar refining is an ongoing process, so it’s really important to properly plan how we get the sugar out, because we have to keep making room in the silos to continue melting the raw sugar that arrives by ship every three weeks,” explained Imane El Assoss.
Conveniently located practically dockside in the Port, Lantic Inc. benefits from this geographic proximity to stay supplied with raw sugar and continue refining it. And the refinery will never be idle, since sugar will always be a staple in our kitchens.