Founded in Winona, MN – a river town with a rich history tied to the Mississippi River – it’s only fitting that Thern has built plenty of winch systems specially design to assist with the positioning and loading of barges at grain terminals along America’s commercial shipping lanes.At first glance, barge loading is simple enough – a barge pulls up, a chute lowers and grain feeds into the barge’s hold. And it would be that simple… if barges operated on land like their railcar counterparts. However, barges float on water and are constantly subject to the forces of river current, wind and buoyancy.
Barge control systems from Thern employ electric winches working in tandem to securely move the barges into position at a terminal. Simply put, the winch cables attach at either end of a barge (or group of barges) and as they move, one winch pays out tensioned cable while the other hauls in cable. The movements are precise, but the system factors in barge drift due to current and wind to help mitigate stress on the system while still maintaining control. Operators control the system via a remote control station.
Thern also builds winches designed to position chutes during loading. As barges fill, their orientation on the water shifts with the distribution of weight and they begin to ride lower in the water as their buoyancy changes. To prevent spills, operators must continuously adjust the chutes to match the barges position. Small electric winches, also remotely controlled, make the necessary adjustments continuously throughout the loading process.