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Liebherr machines take part in West Argyll floating pier project

The Ardcastle floating pier project is part of a strategy for sustainable transport planning initiated by Scotland’s £1bn timber industry sector. It will allow c£10m worth of timber reserves to be unlocked in West Argyll. The new pier has been commissioned by JST Floating Piers Ltd and is open to all users that want to transport timber from the region. An arched back linkspan connects the floating barge to the shore and the large barge accommodates JST’s new 40 tonne Liebherr LH 40 C material handler. On the land-based side is a wheeled A 934 C material handler from JST’s fleet. Building of the new pier underpins a long-term contract between Forest Enterprise Scotland and wood processing company Norbord.

With approximately nine million tonnes of timber harvested every year, Scotland’s timber industry has a significant positive impact on the region’s economy and community. This £1bn sector has recognised the need for sustainable transport planning with the west of Scotland’s proximity to the Irish sea and associated lochs and waterways making a modal shift to sea the obvious choice. The Ardcastle floating pier project is part of this strategy and will enable approximately £10m worth of timber reserves to be unlocked in West Argyll. The new pier will handle an estimated 250,000 tonnes from the local forests over the next 10 years.

Situated on the banks of Loch Fyne, the new pier has been commissioned by one of the UK’s largest cargo handling specialists, JST Services (Scotland) Ltd, through its sub-division JST Floating Piers Ltd. Its piers are uniquely engineered pieces of mobile marine equipment that enable the company to deliver timber between the shore and a depth of water suitable for the mooring and loading of vessels of up to 3000 tonnes in capacity. Where there is a suitably developed infrastructure on the landward side, JST Floating Piers can set up a pier from delivery to working condition in a 12-hour shift.

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The floating pier is open to all users transporting timber from the region and has a storage / handling area of up to 8000 tonnes in capacity. The pier will reduce the impact on infrastructure by more than three million lorry miles over the course of harvesting the area. Some development costs were met with grant assistance from the Scottish Strategic Timber Transport Scheme. John Scott of JST Services commented, “I am delighted to be steering this project, which will help improve the flow of timber from the forests of Argyll to processors and help to increase the volume of timber transported in a sustainable manner.”

An arched back linkspan connects the floating barge to the shore and the large barge accommodates the company’s latest purchase: a 40 tonne Liebherr LH 40 C-EW. JST has a long history of purchasing Liebherr machines but, unusually, this new material handler has a crawler undercarriage. JST has opted for a hydraulically-elevating cab mounted with a fixed 1.2 m riser that, with its theoretical eye level view of over 6 m from the ground, is ideal for looking into the hold of the coasters being loaded. Precise attachment control makes positioning logs within the ship hold easier and with a 1.5 m3 HSP timber grab, the Liebherr can empty a full 28 tonne load in under three minutes. JST has specified the curved main boom option at 8.6 m and a 7.5 m flat angled stick, which gives a maximum reach of over 15 m, and a choice of position for the lift cylinders enables a deeper reach into cargo holds.

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The land-based side of the operation is catered for by another Liebherr material handler from the JST fleet: a wheeled A 934 C. With a similar specification to the LH 40 C-EW, it unloads incoming vehicles and loads the two 8 x 4 rigid Volvo trucks used to carry timber from the stock yard to the floating dock. ‘Neil Stoddart, General Manager of JST Services (Scotland) Ltd, commented, “Once again, our close working relationship with Liebherr has resulted in a solution that increases productivity and reliability for both JST and our customers.”

The building of the new pier will underpin a long-term contract between Forest Enterprise Scotland and wood processing company Norbord. Kevin Thomas, UK Wood Supply Manager at Norbord, said, “We are delighted to be able to offer our support for this project. The opening of this pier is aligned with our investment plans at Inverness and the subsequent increase in raw material demand that follows. Norbord is committed to modal shift on both raw material and finished product wherever practicable and the opening of this facility allows us to do this on volumes purchased from Argyll.”

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