New lateral discharge system in the mills of the region

In the framework of the CATE project, cane wagons of minimal weight were designed to reduce harvesting costs.

More than one million tons of sugarcane mobilized in light-weight side-loading wagons, between August 2011 and April 2013, demonstrate that this transport system has positioned itself in the region.

In the Colombian sugar industry, the cane unloading in the factories is carried out with a system of turning the baskets of the wagons in a 120º turn (high discharge) with a wire crane. The new lateral unloading system allows the cane to be transferred to the table with a 45º turn, which is achieved with lighter wagons, while increasing efficiency and reducing costs during the harvest, transport and delivery process. .

The wagons of minimal weight with which the lateral unloading system was put into operation were proposed within the framework of the CATE project coordinated by Cenicaña, which aims to improve technological standards and logistics in cane cutting processes, moose , transportation and delivery at the factory.

With these new teams, the Incauca and Providencia mills, which are leading the initiative with the support of Cenicaña, have managed to reduce harvest and transport costs by 3% and 4% and fuel consumption by 5%.

How it was achieved

The project consisted of the design of wagons with a capacity of 24 tons, four more than the average transport of HD 20000 high-discharge wagons, the most used by the industry and with which the comparative study was made. The structure of these HD wagons weighs 11 tons and loaded they reach a weight of up to 31 tons.

Thus, the wagons of the side discharge system (DL) 24000 were designed with a structural weight of 9.5 tons, which directly impacts fuel consumption. In addition, thanks to the installation of tensioners on the axles of the rear wheels, maintenance costs are reduced and there is more stability during transport.

In addition, the lateral discharge reduces the energy consumption per ton of cane unloaded by 59% compared to the high discharge, due to the reduction in the degrees of rotation performed by the baskets. Currently Incauca and Providencia have more than 160 DL 24000 wagons on their harvesting fronts. For their part, Riopaila Castilla and Manuelita, which have adopted the concept of minimum weight to adjust it to their high-discharge systems, have more than 30 HD 24000 wagons.

Project Details

    • The design of the prototypes of minimum weight wagons began with a simulation that took into account variables such as times and movements, capacities per axle and cane transport regulations, among others, to propose the optimal volumetric capacity of wagons, according to the characteristics of a wit.
    • The wagon resulting from the simulation for the Incauca and Providencia conditions would transport an average of four tons more than the HD 20000 and would weigh around nine tons.
    • Cenicaña produced the basic engineering of the wagons and the mills opened a tender to contract their construction.
    • Logistics and mechanical monitoring of the new wagons was carried out in real operations, and the economic evaluation confirmed a decrease in transportation costs similar to that projected in the simulation.
    • With a larger fleet and after making logistical adjustments, such as adjustments to the unloading tables in the factories, the system in operation was monitored, with the results described.
    • In a complementary way, progress was made in the design of prototypes of self-service wagons, for greater efficiency in the practice of transshipment.


With the DL 24000 side-discharge minimum weight wagons, less fuel is consumed, and the costs of harvesting and transporting the cane are lower.

“The DL 24000 wagons project has presented many advantages, not only because of the results, but also because of the way in which we interact between the Cenicaña technical teams, and the harvest and mill factory. In this project we find advantages in terms of lower fuel consumption and lower costs per ton. For that reason we will continue working with the side unloading cars ”. 

Edgar escobar
Incauca harvest manager





With the DL 24000 wagons, in the Cauca and Providencia sugar mills, cane transportation costs decreased by 9% and 11%, respectively, compared to the HD 20000 wagons.

Information letter
Year 1 / Number 2 / August 2013

Full text in version:
PDF | Animated