Transport trailblazers

21 September 2011


On both sides of the Atlantic, special transport firms are awarded each year for their safely and cleverly overcoming the obstacles of moving loads. This passing April and June, ESTA and SC&RA awarded five trailblazing transport companies for an outstanding achievement in the hauling category: ‘Job of the Year’

The SC&RA, the US trade firm for special transport and crane operations, has 1,300 members in 43 nations. It awards three members for ‘Job of the Year’ in categories such as rigging and hauling.

‘Jobs of the year’ were awarded in three categories, one for under 160,000lbs (71t), one for over 160,000lbs (71t), and one for ‘moving’ that includes equipment like Self Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMT) and crawler assemblies.

ESTA is the European Crane and Heavy Haulage Association with 41 members in several European states, Turkey and Russia. Its affiliate company members include major international crane and transporter manufacturers like Goldhofer, Manitowoc, Liebherr, and Terex Demag.

ESTA has been organising awards for seven years now. It bestows ‘Job of the Year’ awards for both crane and hauling jobs in categories of above and below 120t.

There’s also a category for jobs using combinations of equipment, which has been included in this article along with the jobs of the year for its interesting use of strand jacks.

In 2007, ESTA began to adapt the judging criteria to favour smaller companies that have made on-the-job innovations over larger companies that have done jobs with higher price tags.

Like ESTA’s ‘Gino Koster’ award, SC&RA highlights personalities for courtesy and heroism through its ‘Driver of the Year’ and ‘Operator of the Year’ awards. On its website, the SC&RA says it aims to inspire the industry to improve.

Emmert’s four generator night drive
Transporting four nuclear plant steam generators each weighing 603t and measuring 23m in length is not easy, and it took Emmert, an Oregon, US based firm, three years to plan for it.

Emmert planned a route of 15mi taking it through rough access roads, Interstate 5, a state park area full of endangered species and a beach, earning it an award from the SC&RA in the category of ‘Moving’. The generators would replace old generators in a nuclear power facility in San Onefre, California.

They were shipped from a Japanese manufacturing plant to the Port of Long Beach. Then Emmert towed them through the Pacific Ocean to Del Mar basin, at the US marine base, Camp Pendleton. The towing was done at night avoid rip currents within the basin.

The heavy lift dock was dredged, and Emmert heaved out the thousand-pound load onto a 16 axle double wide Goldhofer PST. The firm drove the PST through the marine camp on asphalt roads.

Emmert then shifted the load onto steel platforms placed on 625t transporters. The transporters were capable of maneuvering at 3–5mph on sand without matting, driving down a 10% ramp to the beach.

It took Emmert three days to move the transporters down the beach on a temporary, purpose-built road, which was long in comparison to the next leg, a 30 minute, half-mile nighttime trip on the I-5 motorway.

Considerable planning went into the next phase, which took the caravan through a state park. Planning a permit from the California Coastal Commission required an extensive environmental impact report.

Biological monitors, independently appointed, supervised the move as most of the leg was deemed environmentally sensitive, and was home to endangered species, both plant and animal, protected by law. Since it was nesting season for sea birds spring until the early autumn, works were carefully scheduled.

The last step required entering the power plant reservation through the parking area on another purpose built road, and a 6% grade onto the entry road and through buildings with only 0.25in of leeway.

Barnhart crosses a few bridges
Barnhart, a firm based in Tennessee, was also awarded for moving a generator with finesse. It completed the move on an extremely tight schedule, after six months of planning and receiving the generator two months late.

The route it planned took it across 109 bridges in Tennessee and Virginia, a 176mi route, which gained the attention of SC&RA judges for the category of 'Hauling under 160,000 lbs’.

While moving the 135t generator measuring 10.7m, Barnhart had to ensure the bridges would not capsize, so it contracted five engineering firms to analyse 36 of the riskiest bridges. Each analysis contained hundreds of pages of data.

A 115 page plan was drafted and distributed to local authorities to make them aware of the transport project planned. This process involved meeting with government authorities at the state and local level, traffic control officials, and community groups.

Tennessee authorities enforced laws such as road weight limitations, which required Barnhart to modify the 24 dolly transporter to make it into a 28 dolly transporter. This increased the length of the transporter to 111m during the Tennessee leg of the trip, and the system was shortened to 24 dollies once it reached the Virginia border.

To convey the load under bridges, Barnhart reduced the total height to 5m by using carrier beams beneath the sole plates of the generator.

For spreading the transporter’s weight along both its lateral and longitudinal axes when crossing bridges, Barnhart expanded its ‘crab steering’ technique. It also innovated a ‘dog-bone link’ support system using two 100t jacks to reinforce the transporters’ transition girders.

The local authorities required Barnhart to pay for costly permits. Permit fees, bridge engineering, remediation and bonds cost $1,876,494.

Heavy rainfall shortly before the job deteriorated roads, presenting an additional obstacle. It caused a wall on a highway to collapse, which Barnhart replaced to secure the transport convoy.

Tradelossa trains for safety
Tradelossa, a firm with four locations in Mexico, relocated three mills, each weighing 49t and measuring 7m. They were moved from a mine in Zacatecas, Mexico through the Sierra Madre Mountains to two other mines in Chihuahua.

The firm succeeded in the project and won the SC&RA category ‘Hauling over 160,000lbs’, however another firm failed in the first mile.

The mills were headed to two separate mines hundreds of miles away: one route was 490mi from the starting point in the city of and the other was 10mi closer.

The firm took 200 hours to plan the route. The roads were rough, curving, and frequently narrow, particularly when passing through small towns and passageways within the mine sites.

Moving the mills would have to be done within a relatively short period, just 30 days because this was the length of the firm’s federal road permit, and 475 man-hours were ultimately required to deliver the project on time and safely.

At one point the firm used hydraulic equipment to move the load beneath a girder bridge by lowering it to the ground level. It assembled and tested the lowering equipment in four days. It allowed clearance of the bridge, permitting the transport to use a much shorter route.

The firm sent key personnel to Germany for training by Goldhofer as special transport specialists, so that its crew could better use some of the equipment. Tradelossa employed various tactics to get around the tight passages: it disassembled the cargo as much as possible to clear the storage facility exit within two inches. It used both lanes for as much as 7.5mi in places where the road was narrow. It negotiated for with the Federal Electricity Commission to cut power at times when the transporter would pass beneath low power cables.

Because of the rough ground, the firm required two tractors to pull the transporter across patches in the road. To replace an existing road nettled with impossible-to-manage hairpin turns, it built a 249m road.

Fagioli up a creek but getting out
The winner in the ESTA category of ‘Trailer and load over 120t’, Fagioli transported two items, a 245t transformer coming from Naples and a 269t generator coming from Genova to Bayet, France, with a leg by river. They were destined for a nuclear power plant, owned by Areva, in Bayet.

To pick up the transporter, the firm used two 11 axle line Fagioli trailers. It was loaded onto the trailers at a factory in Getra, and was then placed on a ship in Napoli by a Lo-Lo system.

The ship was bound for Genova to pick up the second component, a generator. When the ship reached Genova, the firm lowered the generator onto it by a Lo-Lo system. After this the ship was transported to Fos sul Mer in France, where the cargo was loaded onto a barge for the river journey to Chalon sur Saône.

Once the barge arrived in Chalon sur Saône, the cargo was unloaded and placed on supports by an overhead crane. A Schnabel structure was prepared to distribute the weight on the supports.

As soon as the firm unloaded the cargo onto transporters at Areva’s jetty, it commenced a final stretch of the journey by trailer, 109mi by road to the Bayet Power Station in France. Fagioli used two trailers with 15 axle lines each and 4 prime movers, with a system length of 79m, weighing 559t.

The items traveled over 19 bridges, some of which had over-bridge structures made by Fagioli to distribute the weight. Fagioli said: “One challenging passage was the passage onto a small bridge. The structure was reinforced with steel and concrete blocks and it was decided by Fagioli engineering to build a tailor-made overbridge in order to counterbalance the huge weight of the convoy.

Other bridges had restricted capacities and had to be reinforced with steel structures engineered by Fagioli.

“Two huge steel structures were connected and positioned at the side of the bridge. Specially made plates were fixed with pins to the long supports, in order to create a steel surface where the over-bridge structures were connected. This structure allowed the passage of the convoy to distribute the enormous weight on to the structure, avoiding too much pressure on the centre of the bridge.”

For a bridge crossing the Loire, Fagioli employed the ‘crab steering’ technique, where the trailers were positioned diagonally to widely distribute the load.

August Alborn flies a UFO
August Alborn, a German firm, transported a 1970s plastic house shaped like a UFO from the grounds of a pump company in Vlotho, Germany to a museum in Witten, Germany. For the project it received the ESTA award for the category of ‘Trailer and load under 120t’.

The ‘Futuro’ house was designed by Charles Paul Wilp and built in 1970, from which time the pump company ASV Stübbe had used it as a meeting room. It was scheduled to be entrusted to a museum dedicated to the artist.

The job covered the transport of the 5t ‘Futuro’ along public routes and necessitated obtaining several permits from German road transport authorities. The routes were complex owing to the high population density and construction altered routes. The selected route had to be rearranged at the last minute owing to a potential landslide. The firm decided not to disassemble the ‘Futuro’ because the antique furniture couldn’t be replaced, and after consideration, vetoed using a helicopter to transport it as it would have been too costly.

August Alborn decided to use a 12 axle truck and trailer with a 23.61m total length, Scheuerle 3 axle Inter-Kombi. It tied the ‘Futuro’ to the flatbed by passing rigging through the oval windows. The 5m height of ‘Futuro’ required that the firm arrange for the use of the lowest flatbed trailer, with a height of 30cm. It also required adjustment of the 1m stilts supporting the building.

For support during the transport period, lasting two nights and one day, the firm arranged police and BF3 escort along the entire route, as well as teams for disassembling and reassembling lights and signs.

De Groote’s gantry combination
The ESTA board awarded De Groote of Belgium for best job in the category of ‘Combined techniques’. The firm used a 1200t hydraulic gantry crane, a 70t strandjack, and three electric minicranes to carefully maneuver and replace a 50t hydraulic press within a plunger. By not removing the plunger along with the press, the firm saved its client from production downtime.

Besides the challenge of low visibility into the plunger where the press was located, the firm had to grapple with lifting within a live production plant having small exits. Nonetheless, it ensured that surfaces at the plant were not damaged by any cranes.

To achieve the lift, the firm installed a gantry system above the roof. It sat on three hydraulic cylinders stretching from the floor through panels in the roof to 12m above it. The firm used a 250t crane to place an 8t beam holding the strandjack on the three cyllanders, which held the majority of the weight of the 50t press.

To handle the press, De Groote used minicranes fitted with special attachments, and assisted by a tailing crane. The same process was carried out in reverse to install the new press.

The firm decreased the typical length of time takes to replace an old press cylinder with a new one from several weeks to fewer than two.


Tradelossa Tradelossa
Fagioli Fagioli
Barnhart haults a generator over 109 bridges Barnhart haults a generator over 109 bridges
Emmert transports a 603t generator through a forest with endangered species Emmert transports a 603t generator through a forest with endangered species