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07. 2013

On the road with 260 tons in Switzerland

High-tech made in Germany and Swiss precision as the basis for a rare feat of logistics: To avoid any delays to the work on Switzerland’s A16 Trans-Jura motorway, the experts once again placed their trust in innovative transport solutions from Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft of Memmingen (Bavaria). To transport a 160-ton hydraulic gearbox for a tunnel boring machine, Feldmann Pneukran und Transporte AG of Bilten (Canton Glarus) deployed a Goldhofer THP/ET heavy-duty modular system with 20 axle lines.

The 160-ton gearbox had to be transported the full breadth of the Swiss Canton Jura on a route that was nothing for the faint-hearted: Twenty Goldhofer axle lines had to maneuver the 4.3-meter-high colossus with a diameter of 6.3 meters with pinpoint precision along narrow cantonal roads and across several motorway bridges. Thanks to Goldhofer’s years of experience and innovative engineering, this feat of logistics was finally accomplished without a hitch and without any damage.

“We at Goldhofer are used to exceptional requirements, but this was again a special achievement,” says a satisfied Markus Heinle, who coordinated the “Feldmann mission” for Goldhofer. His expert advice and the perfect management and knowhow of Germany’s world market leader for transport solutions and heavy-duty haulage received much praise from the management of the Swiss transport company: “We can always rely completely on Goldhofer. That makes it a pleasure to master new challenges,” says Marcel Guilbert, head of Transport Operations and project manager at Feldmann Pneukran und Transporte AG.

The route from Courtedoux in Canton Jura to Balsthal in Canton Solothurn comprises 68 kilometers of breathtaking mountain scenery. By car, it is about an hour’s relaxed and enjoyable driving. If you have to cover the distance with 20 axles, an overall length of 45.5 meters and a laden weight of about 260 tons, however, you will not spend much time admiring the beauty of the Jura mountains; it requires 100% concentration to handle such a mega-operation without any delays, injuries or damage to the environment.

The “Feldmann mission” was confronted with a challenge right at the beginning, just a few kilometers after leaving Bure: Two motorway bridges had to be crossed on the A16 from Porrenturuy to Delémont, and because of the weight of the load the Swiss authorities stipulated 20 axles for this section of the journey, and four axles were accordingly added to the 16-axle transporter so as to reduce the axle loads. With Goldhofer’s THP/ET heavy-duty modular system, however, that was “one of our easier standard exercises”, as Markus Heinle put it in a tongue-in-cheek comment.

The 260-ton steel giant then rolled meter by meter towards its destination, over narrow mountain passes and even along a section of the new motorway that was not yet open to traffic.

Apart from the internationally acclaimed heavy-duty axles on the Goldhofer THP/ET modules, the key to the success of the operation was once again the company’s innovative easyLOAD system. This software made it possible to distribute the load with such precision that the 160 tons could be transported by road with absolute safety and in compliance with the legal requirements. “For the motorway sections, we were able to use the same steering plan with the additional axles; so there was no need to lift the load for the modification,” Marcel Guilbert explains. Where necessary, the load was raised by up to 300 mm using the hydraulic swing axle suspension.

Thanks to the flexibility and reliability of Goldhofer’s heavy-haulage system, the permit for the journey through the Swiss Canton was not limited to the night hours, as is usually the case; it also allowed travel during the day. “That considerably reduced total project time and hence the costs,” the pleased project manager adds.

The painstaking preparations made by the Feldmann team also paid off. The company’s highway crew had spent weeks getting ready for the big day: All potential obstacles like highway bollards and posts, road signs and even complete traffic light sets had been removed or made ready for removal, so that the stage was set for a trouble-free operation. The transporter negotiated narrow cantonal roads through the idyllic Laufental and past Muttenz, Pratteln and Hauenstein to its destination in Balsthal. For a number of especially narrow passages, the radio control unit had to be used to employ the auxiliary axle steering on the modules needed to negotiate the tight radii without any problems.

The heavy haulage experts were also pleased with the cooperative and constructive role played by the local authorities: “That was another key element in the success of the project,” Marcel Guilbert confirms. They did take some persuading on a few points, but ultimately the authorities in the Basle region even gave the go-ahead for roads to be used which are not normally open to vehicles carrying such heavy loads. That included some sections with whole strings of traffic islands and roundabouts, which were a corresponding challenge for the haulage crew.

For Feldmann Pneukran und Transporte AG, the 260-ton operation under such difficult conditions was a premiere of a special kind; the company had never handled a 160-ton payload before. For Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft, as the world market leader for transport equipment, it was one more challenge successfully mastered.

“We have shown once again that we are a reliable partner for our customers. The Feldman operation clearly demonstrated that they can rely not only on the best and most innovative technology available on the market today but also on our competence and expertise in terms of project management. That is the extra that makes all the difference in tricky and challenging situations,” says Stefan Fuchs, CEO of Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft.

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