A CEMENT importer has invested £700,000 in a new machine which sucks the powder off ships and into silos.

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Southern Cement, which is based at the Port of Ipswich and was established 10 years ago, imports around 160,000 tonnes worth of bulk and bagged cement products per year to supply to building firms across the UK.

The business, part of the Spanish-based Cementos Portland Valderrivas (CPV) group of companies, imports its products from there via ship into Ipswich.

It uses a mobile ship unloader, which sucks the cement from the ship’s storage compartments so that it can be transferred to silos at the port.

This was previously sub-contracted out to another firm, but now Southern Cement has bought its own mobile ship unloader, with the help of a hire purchase loan from Lloyds TSB. This allows it to carry out transfers itself, which means a faster and more reliable process.

Its ships can now be efficiently unloaded as soon as they arrive at port.

Operations manager Dean Wessels said: “As we bring in our products from abroad, it is vital for the business that every aspect of the import process runs as efficiently as possible.

“Sub-contracting the transfer of cement from ship to silo meant reliance on a third party, but purchasing our own equipment to do the work ourselves adds a new level of reliability to our supply chain, which is naturally passed on to our customers.

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