Heavy transport diversity

11 August 2008

Houseboat moves by road

Houseboat moves by road

The heavy and specialized transport industry is increasingly challenged to find solutions to carry extreme loads to their destinations. In solving those challenges ingenuity is often the key word. Gino Koster presents some examples on the basis of the ESTA 2008 award winning jobs and other typical entries.

A heavy transport trailer as a load in its own right may sound strange but it becomes reality when units with dimensions outside legal road limits have to be moved. Specialist contractor STDR TEDL in La Talaudiere, France, experienced that there are exemptions to that as well.

French trailer manufacturer Nicolas, a member of the TII Group, built a set of heavy girder type road-style trailers for a customer in South Africa. The two awkward trailer modules, each consisting of 12 axle lines in three files wide and measuring 29 x 5.2 x 3.8 m (Length Width Height), were not allowed to move on their on wheels but had to be carried on a trailer for delivery to the port of Antwerp in Belgium.

Preparations took almost five months to find a suitable route in combination with a trailer configuration that would fit and for the authorities to grant the required permits. Before that, however, the STDR TEDL crew had to carry out an additional detailed survey on part of the route to investigate whether the maximum allowed length of 33 m could also be negotiated with the required and proposed 39.85 m long tractor and trailer combination. Measurements and engineering proved that it was feasible, although with only 50 and 30 mm to spare at the front end in one critical spot.

Another obstacle, a 4.54 m high bridge limitation, was overcome by ‘fine-tuning’ the loading plan and inserting two cross beams with exact cribbing in between the wheel sets of the trailer modules and the deck of the carrying trailer. The final challenge was to safely pass through Belgium during the allotted time window between seven in the evening and six in the morning. A double crew was lined up to achieve this.

Finally, the first unit was moved in March and the second in early April. STDR TEDL carried the Nicolas on its Nicolas MDEL modular trailer in a 5 + 17 m long intermediate extendable beams + 4 line configuration with an hydraulic gooseneck and a Volvo FH500 tractor. Despite the snow, which forced the second move to be rescheduled, both loads were delivered in time. This challenging transport won the STDR TEDL company second prize in the ESTA Transport Award category <120 tonnes gross vehicle weight.

In time

Time was the crucial factor in the transport of a portal crane from Heerle in the Netherlands to the Dublin area in Ireland. Heeren Transport, based in Roosendaal, the Netherlands, took up the challenge. It had to load the crane on five specialized trailers on a Friday morning and deliver it the following Monday morning at 07.00.

The loads, up to 30 m long, 4 m wide and up to 4.25 m high when loaded, had to make two ferry crossings. Not all ferries could handle the five oversized trailers. Scheduling those, in combination with the permit requirements on the land parts of the transport and the required pilot cars, put quite some pressure on the project. But detailed planning and preparation paid off when the convoy arrived on site at 03.00 that Monday morning. This job won the company third prize in the ESTA Awards 2008 category <120 tonne GVW.

Group move

Multilift Transportsysteme Deutschland, a co-operation between heavy transport and lifting companies in Germany, carried out the challenging task of moving a 496 tonne gas turbine, a 294 tonne transformer and a 456 tonne generator 60 km by public road from Kelheim to Vohburg-Irsching, Germany.

The complex project required road surveys, a risk analysis and an evaluation, and arrangements for permits. In addition, 27 structural analyses had to be performed on bridges, leading to the requirement to erect two temporary bridges and to shore up some other bridges, among other preparatory work. The heavy loads were moved both on conventional Scheuerle modular trailers and semi-self-propelled Goldhofer modular trailers. The trailers were provided by Multilift partners’ Markewitsch and P. Adams Transpalux, while supporting equipment and manpower was also supplied by Aug. Alborn.

The moves were a logistical challenge, especially the gas turbine. Multilift was awarded the contract to transport all parts for the power plant in Irsching. The precondition for this, however, was that the heaviest part – the 496 tonne gas turbine measuring 14 x 5.5 x 5.75 m (LWH) – would have sufficient supporting surface and that pre-set axle loads would not be exceeded.

The permitted route was too narrow to combine two standard modular trailers side by side. The P. Adams fleet of trailers includes Goldhofer modules that can be split lengthwise. This allows for coupling 3 file wide to create a 4.900 mm wide modular hydraulic trailer complying with permit requirements. To cover the first section of the transport route, the gas turbine was carried by a push barge up to the inland port of Kelheim/Saal. The turbine was reloaded onto the 20-axle 3-file wide trailer.

Since no federal roads or highways could be used due to the total combination weight of 750 tonnes and the overall height of 7 m, the transport made its way over country roads along the Danube river. The first section was covered during the night when a long time-slot enabling the convoy to pass a railroad crossing was available. Power had to be cut to all overhead lines.

The next part of the move was carried out during the day. On the first day one of the most difficult sections, a 5,5 km climb, had to be made. A characteristic was the 1.5 km section with a gradient up to 9%. P. Adams’ transport team, therefore, decided to integrate a self-propelled trailer module and power pack in and on the 30-axle combination as a back-up for the 600 hp tractors. As speed was reduced to walking pace, due to the weight and the 6 m width, the self-propelled transporter could keep up with the tractors up to a maximum speed of 15 km/h, so as not to cause damage to the wheel gears of the self-propelled transporter.

The convoy was permanently escorted by a number of vehicles, including police and an hydraulic lift. Many sightseers and photographers lined up along the road to witness the fascinating moves of both the turbine and transformer in one convoy.

Complete sections of road had to be blocked and the traffic had to be re-routed. A support crew from Alborn covered pedestrian refuge islands and green areas with steel plates. To avoid road damage, some predetermined locations had to be covered with steel plates. All problem spots were covered shortly before the transport arrived. Bridges were reinforced using additional steel beams, hydraulic jacks and lifting towers. Street furniture, including traffic lights, had to be removed temporarily.

Many onlookers along the route were amazed by the enormous transport and were surprised by the manoeuvrability of the 53 m long combination. The trailer could negotiate every tight turn in spite of its total weight of 750 tonnes. The self-propelled option came in handy when the trailer had to manoeuvre in tight spots.

When it began to rain the first worries were that the slippery steel plates would not offer good enough traction. The transport team had already added the self-propelled transporter to the convoy in the first uphill section. At the foot, the gas turbine had to stay and wait. The transformer was the first to take the “mountain stage”. With two tractors and one push tractor, the 20-axle Scheuerle combination worked its way up. Once the transformer was up, the gas turbine followed.

The 750 tonne combination slowly moved uphill on the 8 and 9% slope. High-risk street sections were secured by steel plates.

The self-propelled transporter pushed the 742 tonne combination uphill, sometimes assisted by a 600 hp tractor. Even on the wet steel plates the combination had enough traction and wound itself uphill metre by metre. At the top the convoy continued its way towards Ingolstadt during the day. Finally, the convoy reached the power station in Irsching, near Ingolstadt, within four days.

Sheffield steel

Heavy steel castings that had to be moved from Sheffield, UK, via the Port of Goole to Antwerp in Belgium, required some ingenious transport solutions. The steel castings were a 195 tonne 7.2 x 4.9 x 3 m (LWH) piece, a 240 tonne, 9 x 5.2 x 2 m one and a 315 tonne, 10 x 6.7 x 2.65 m piece. The first was transported by conventional 16 axle, 3 m-wide Scheuerle Intercombi trailer, one month prior to items two and three and sent to Antwerp aboard ro-ro barge Terra Merique. Collett Heavy Transport from Halifax, UK contracted the moves.

An initial application to move the 315 tonne casting on an 18 axle, 3 m wide Scheuerle trailer was rejected because of the concentration of weight. It was suggested that a girder frame trailer was the only solution to the problem. Collett Transport operates the only modular ‘split’ axle trailers in the UK so an 18 axle, 5 m wide, 3 file wide trailer (216 wheels) combination was presented to the road authorities for approval to cross the three bridges that were causing concern. It was approved and arrangements were made to prepare the trailer ready for loading in Sheffield in December 2007.

However, due to access restrictions at the loading point in Sheffield, it was impossible to remove the casting from the factory on 18 axles. The solution was to build a 12 axle, 3 file, 5 m wide trailer to load the casting in the factory and remove the load to the front of the building where the trailer could be re-mobbed into the 18 axle configuration required by the authorities.

The casting was offloaded onto supports using the trailer hydraulics. Then the trailer was repositioned so that an additional 6 axle, 3 file module could be built onto the existing 12 axles.

Humberside Police authority would only allow the load through their area on a Sunday, so the load was made ready to depart from Sheffield at 23.00 hours on a Saturday under escort from South Yorkshire Police and with two pilot cars from Collett Transport.

The load was escorted to a lay down area on the M18 motorway and arrived there at 02.00 hours. At 08.00 hours Humberside Police were due to accompany the convoy to its final destination at the Port of Goole.

Due to the overall convoy weight of almost 500 tonnes (18 axles 3 file and two ballasted heavy tractors) arrangements had been made previously to allow it to proceed on the M62 motorway ‘contra-flow’ to avoid two bridges that were not capable of accommodating the weight. To achieve this, Collett Transport worked with Carillion WSP, the company responsible for the motorway network in that area, and Humberside Police, to prepare a traffic management scheme. This should allow westbound vehicles to continue to use the M62 while the heavy load convoy travelled eastbound on the same section of road.

The scheme was accepted by all authorities as workable and safe and it was put in place ready for an 08.00 hours departure from the parking area.

The scheme involved the convoy joining the M62 westbound, parking up, repositioning the tractors to face east and then, under escort from two police vehicles, proceeding to Port of Goole.

The whole operation passed without incident and the convoy arrived at the port two hours after departing the parking area. Humberside Police commented positively about the operation and made particular reference to the high competence of the drivers and steersman involved.

Sailing by road

Moving with your floating home allows you to go anywhere where there is sufficient water. But if there is a bottle neck on the route, crane and heavy transport companies may have the solution. An example was Barneveldse Kraanverhuur (BKV) in Barneveld, the Netherlands. The company proved it by moving 10 such ‘waterhomes’ in one operation.

When a connection between two waterways failed, BKV carried out a survey to establish whether the transfer from one waterway to the other would be feasible. The survey was positive and gave the green light for the operation to go ahead. A detailed scope of work plan was put together to establish all that had to be done before the floating homes could pass through. Shortly before the operation, all selected street furniture was removed, including traffic signals.

To level the street in other areas sand was supplied and covered with steel plates. Talks were held with Utrecht City officials and with road owner, Rijkswaterstaat.

Once all was prepared and in place, the operation commences. One by one the floating homes were lifted from the water and put on BKV’s 7-axle Nooteboom hydraulic semi-lowbed. Each home weighs about 80 tonnes and measures 11 x 6 x 9 m. All the homes passed over the temporary steel plated cross over just before a traffic signal to finally arrive in the new port where they were put back in to the water.

Out with the old

Heavy transport trailers and, especially, the very manoeuvrable SPMT, can come in handy when old bridges have to be removed prior to demolition. Sarens Nederland, part of the Sarens Group, had to remove 11 bridge sections varying in weight between 400 and 500 tonnes and 1,750 and 2,350 tonnes.

The first, land based sections, measure about 62 x 18 x 12 m, while the latter spanning the water are 150 x 18 x 16 m. Removing those two sections crossing the river Waal turned out o be a challenging operation. Sarens mobilised its barges Karel and Victor. SPMTs were positioned on the barge, with 15 m high support beams. In this way the bridge sections were lifted from the supports and shifted on to land piece by piece. Next the other SPMTs took over.

In total the job required 112 axles lines. Due to a limited water level temporary supports had to be installed close to the water front to take over the bridge from the barges on to the SPMTs on land.

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