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Bulk Material Shiploader Instrumentation and Fatigue Analysis

Fatigue evaluation of structural steel plate girder elements using instrumentation and analysis
Description or Abstract approxiamately 200-250 words: Dry bulk materials such as petroleum coke are common export commodities at ports on the Texas Gulf coast. At one port, petroleum coke is loaded onto moored vessels using a radial shiploader operating on a turntable. The primary structure of the shiploader is two structural steel plate girders, which are 11.5 feet deep and have an overall length of approximately 211 feet. A shuttle and boom assembly moves along rails on the girders to extend and retract the boom during vessel loading. During a rail replacement project in early 2022, corrosion-induced section loss was observed on the top flanges of both girders, raising questions regarding the possibility of increased stresses in the girders and reduced fatigue life. Due to a lack of record documentation on girder loading due to shuttle/boom movement and bulk material loading operations, an evaluation approach was developed involving instrumentation of the girders to measure the distribution of stress amplitudes and cycles during vessel loading events. The sensor data were compared to structural models and used to calculate the remaining fatigue life of the girders accounting for the corrosion section loss. The presentation will summarize investigation approach and present the findings of the girder fatigue evaluation using the measured stress response. The project is a case study of using instrumentation and monitoring along with advanced analysis to provide the information needed to manage and extend the remaining service life of a key structural asset for this port facility.



Jeff West PhD, PE
Associate Principal
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.


Jeremiah Fasl PhD, PE
Associate Principal
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.


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