A Precursor to 22nd Century Mining Operations.

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Looking for inspiration when thinking about the kind of infrastructure needed to serve the cargo of massive Company ships like the USCSS Nostromo, I ran across this article (linked below) about automated machinery used to unload ore from freighters in the United States Great Lakes region until 1992, having been a dominant factor in ore unloading for over 75 years.

 

Diagram of the Hulett W-S-M Automatic Ore Unloader.

 

Eight machines of this type set a record, having a capacity of fifteen tons each, unloading seven boats having a total capacity of 70,000 tons in 22 hours, actual time. At other points, four machines working in boats having capacities up to 13,000 tons have unloaded these cargoes in about three hours and twenty-five minutes.

The Hulett machines revolutionized the industry, cutting the cost of unloading an ore freighter by a third, and reducing the off-loading time from days to hours. Naturally, lake boats doubled in length and quadrupled in capacity.

If a similar technological advance was made in the late 21st Century, that might explain why Nostromo (in 2122) was pulling such an enormous ore-processing refinery. (Remember: the information shown at the beginning of ALIEN tells us that Nostromo is hauling a refinery processing 20,000,000 tons of mineral ore.)

 

Huletts at the Pennsylvania Railroad Cleveland docks.

 

The Huletts were revolutionary automatic ore unloaders, huge mechanical materials handling machines designed specifically for use at the Great Lakes of North America. Their unsuitability for use in tidewater ports, as they could not adjust to rising and falling water levels, meant that they were rarely used elsewhere. The innovator responsible for designing these automatic unloaders is […]

Source: Hulett – Abandoned Automatic Ore Unloaders of the Great Lakes of North America – Abandoned Spaces

 

References:

Hulett Iron-Ore Unloaders, Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). August 2, 1998.

The Pennsylvania Railroad’s Cleveland Docks, Chapter 3: From Hand Shovels to Huletts.

 

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