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A Shiploader is a large machine used for loading bulk solid materials like iron ore, coal, fertilizers, grains and/or material in bags into ships. Shiploaders are commonly used in ports and jetties from where bulk materials are exported.

It mainly consist of an extendable arm or boom, a belt conveyor, a tripper to elevate and transfer product from a source conveyor or feeder, and a mobile structure to support the boom. It is usually mounted on rails and sometimes on tyres and can move in order to be able to reach the whole length of the ship. The boom also can move front and back, up and down by separate drives so that it can fill the whole breadth of the hold and adapt to the ships increasing draught while it is loaded. At the discharge, a special telescoping chute, with rotating, pivoting spoon, facilitates even and complete filling of the holds.

Shiploaders are built in capacities from 1,000 to 15,000 TPH (tonnes per hour). The height of a shiploader can be in excess of 20 meters and the boom can extend to a length of more than 60 meters.

Mobile Ship Loaders[edit]

High Angle Sandwich Belt Type Shiploader.

Most of the ship loaders are fixed installations, which cannot be removed from the quay, but there are also mobile versions. The challenge of mobile shiploaders is to bring the material from the quay in a short stretch to the height of the ship's deck to the hatch. In order to transport the material with conveyor belts over steep inclines reaching angles of up to 50° the material is sandwiched between two conveyor belts to prevent it from dumpling down.

An example of a large mobile ship loader can be found in the Port of Adelaide, Australia. It is used to load a variety of high value ores from trucks to ship. Materials for export is trucked to the dock and dumped onto a special trap loader type feeder. The ore is fed continuously and uniformly onto the mobile snake's receiving chute. The snake ship loader elevates the bulk over the ship's deck to the hatch where it is discharged into the ship's hold.