The revolutionary efficiency of the tipper barge system



Professor Dr CT Foo, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, SF Loke, Director of International Sealand Innovations Pte Ltd, Singapore and Professor Dr SC Low, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


Despite Singapore’s global reputation as an international port city, it has yet to claim responsibility for any significant innovations in the area of port-related technology. This, however, may begin to change as Singaporeans, having gained extensive technical experience, are now reflecting upon the limitations of existing technologies, mainly originating from the West.

In the previous edition of Port Technology International (PTI 43), Foo, Loke and Graham outlined the distinct possibility of the emergence of a simple, yet dramatically cost-effective mobile ‘port-in-ocean’ system. This system is made possible through the integration of the Singaporean tipper barge with an Australian conveyor system. With the highly competitive nature of the supply chain industry, there is every possibility of there emerging a port-in-ocean system integrated into the supply chain, which is designed for the global mining industry.

In this article we will focus mainly on how Loke’s tipper barge system may change bulk carrier technology, which at present, has remained largely unchanged for the last 50 or more years. The reason why the tipper barge system may dramatically transform the approach to bulk carrier systems is through its realization of highly competitive, revolutionary levels of efficiency.

We have structured this paper into the following areas:
1) Background on the breakthrough in innovative thinking that led to idea of the tipper barge system. The system may be seen as a newly conceived technological system for application in coastal waters, for refilling sand more rapidly. Faster sand refill means a shorter lead-time – and thus improved cost effectiveness.

2) Prior technology and the breakthrough in design concepts that have led to the tipper barge system, consisting of multiple tilting on a flat, floating barge. What is most surprising is how nobody had previously thought of this system, and importantly for commercial reasons; no one had the concept patented.

3) The application of the tipper barge system for land reclamation is explored here. The most exciting preliminary finding, based on estimations and technical assumptions, is the revolutionary efficiency that may be realized through the tipper barge system. Imagine a completion period of three years via the tipper barge system versus the 30 years it could take using the current methods of sand refill in land reclamation.

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