The long flatbed is empty at the moment, but the concentration is clearly etched in the truck driver’s face. He’s negotiating a 1,100-kilometer route from the Canadian coastal town of Stewart in British Columbia right across the green mountains of western Canada. The journey, via narrow mountain roads and over passes with extreme gradients, is part of the year-long planning for one of the region’s most spectacular transport projects: Turbines and rotor blades of this size have never before been transported through provincial Canada. As a precautionary measure, therefore, the Transport Ministry in British Columbia insisted on a corresponding dummy run being conducted.
Just a short time later, however – following this thorough preparation – transportation of the actual load takes place. The local logistics company uses a number of Goldhofer air-sprung flatbed semitrailers. This Bavaria-based company is one of the world’s largest suppliers of semitrailers and heavy haulage modules, which are often custom-manufactured for the particular job involved in transporting extremely heavy and/or long payloads. And what is our part in all this? Air springs and hose systems that ensure smooth operations thanks to their high performance capability.
Air-spring road trip
“You can imagine the forces acting on our air springs, especially when transporting heavy loads,” says Hans-Jörg Reinecke, key account manager in the field of original-equipment air springs for commercial vehicles. After all, the European version of Goldhofer’s flatbed semitrailer can carry a maximum payload of 56 tonnes with up to twelve tonnes per axle. A real challenge for axle manufacturers!
Leaf springs were used in the past, but today’s air springs offer a number of advantages: They have a better operational capability and take up less space, which has a positive impact on axle center distances. They also enable lift axles to be raised or lowered, which means tire wear, axle pressure and, therefore, road holding and fuel consumption can be varied.
||Rainer Auerbacher, senior vice president for sales in Goldhofer’s Transport Technology division, is a specialist in extreme haulage operations:
“When selecting the axle combinations, our customers focus primarily on the permissible axle loads, turning circles and ground pressures along the planned route. The most important thing, after all, is to ensure the load arrives safely.”
Tough hoses for heavy loads
Yet wind turbines and rotors are comparatively lightweight freight. When it comes to transporting large transformers, excavators or entire bridge sections, Goldhofer engineers and manufactures heavy-duty modules in every conceivable variation. Depending on the configuration of the modules into heavy-duty combinations, payloads ranging from 50 to more than 15,000 tonnes can be moved. The modules themselves are connected to each other using hydraulic couplings that we supply together with the line system.
In Colombia, for example, two heavy-duty combinations each comprising three modules were operated in parallel with a total of 32 axles to move a 1,200-tonne bucket wheel excavator. It took four days to cover the mountainous 32-kilometer route, which included gradients of up to five percent.
On the island of La Réunion, an 18-axle heavy-duty combination of the same type was used to transport 36 bridge piers, each weighing 700 tonnes, to their destination for the new coastal road. Our components play a significant role in ensuring that all these extreme haulage operations are completed reliably.