Moving the big the heavy and the wide

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When it comes to moving oversized, big and heavy shipments; it has always been the biggest pain in the supply chain. However, shippers and service providers are becoming more sophisticated in how they plan and partner to achieve the desired result in project cargo logistics. Reji John...

In project cargo and heavy lift shipping, every piece of cargo and every project is different, presenting unique challenges and opportunities. Every day offers project logistics experts a chance to test their knowledge about shipping modes, carrier schedules and routes, handling strategies, local restrictions, and government regulations. Transporting heavy equipment and oversized loads — sometimes in adverse weather or in an environment lacking basic infrastructure — can test even the most experienced third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Every project move is unique, and 3PLs routinely find themselves in a trial-and-error cycle as they plan for the unexpected, learn from experience, and continue to perfect the process. There are several examples of logistics service providers demonstrating their resourcefulness, flexibility and leadership skills required to get special loads or oversized cargo to where they need to go, no matter the circumstances around. Think about the process involved in moving 100 million tonnes of infrastructure materials — of various sizes, quantity and dimension — from around the world to Sochi in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Sochi had to prepared itself with venues, hotels and sports facilities along with modernizing and expanding its residential and business districts with world class amenities. A total of 63 publicly funded projects were planned for completion in 2012, requiring about 100 million tons of infrastructure materials to be transported into the city. The Games' official contractors hired Kuehne + Nagel, a global logistics provider, to manage their transportation and logistics needs, including moving construction-related specialised equipment and materials. The 3PL opened a new facility near Sochi, close to the area's international airport and built a new sea-river port to facilitate the cargo movement. “Considerable international transportation is required for most Olympic venues," said Adrian Hawkins, vice president of projects, Kuehne + Nagel. "This is partly because of the lack of local resources — such as fabricated steel, construction cranes and equipment, and specialized products — needed to meet the huge demand over a short construction period." The planning process for moving project cargo continues to grow in detail and complexity, especially as manufacturers factor transportation into design and production. Building intricate components intended for assembly on-site has made the project logistics supply chain almost machine-like in precision. "In the past, companies stick-built equipment on-site at destination or wherever components were being fabricated. Modularization has changed the process," said Hawkins. "Every part is now a critical component. If one unit isn't available at the right time and in the right place, it can affect a whole plant. Moves have become much more critical." Global complexity only adds to the challenge. Parts and modular packages are being produced in far-flung parts of the world, then shipped to final destinations. The packages are more critical; therefore, planning has to be detailed and partnerships consummated well in advance of the actual moves. Kuehne + Nagel recently moved a 300-tonne gas turbine package for an air and gas facility via ocean barge transport between Italy and Spain. Kuehne + Nagel had to control every detail of the project, from planning the barge layout to handling route surveys and determining how the equipment would be lashed and secured. A huge manual outlined each step of the process, including what-if scenarios. "We documented details about historical weather conditions in the lane, and safe havens in case of bad weather," Hawkins explained. "We did a complete risk assessment of loading and discharging the barge. One company handled transportation from the manufacturing facility to the barge; another took it from the barge and delivered it to the final job site. We chartered the barge and tugs, and led dozens of planning meetings with our partners one year in advance of the move." Express Global Logistics (EXG), member to the Worldwide Project Consortium (WWPC) in India, recently performed an outstanding job of transporting four 74 tonnes power transformers and accessories on the BBC Niteroi from Mumbai Port in India to Cartagena in Columbia. Since the shipment was extremely time bound EXG had to look out for a vessel based on an inducement call. With no immediate open vessels in the vicinity other than the BBC Niteroi of BBC Chartering GmbH, EXG had to ship the cargo on the BBC Niteroi geared up to two cranes x 60 tonnes. Due to technical impediments the heavy transformers four x 74 tonnes were required to be loaded on the BBC Niteroi by using external cranes for which it was safer to use an adequate cap floating crane. For loading onto the vessel the Floating Crane RIJA SWL 240 tonne was engaged. The heavy 4 x 74 tons transformers were loaded onto the deck of a barge of FC RIJA and later moved alongside to the BBC Niteroi. 

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