Heavylift / Breakbulk
Crane or rail – easy
There is a broad range of challenges facing heavylift operators, as the Austrian company Felbermayr registered recently. Thanks to careful preparation it managed two complex problems – shifting a 108 t transformer core and a 482 t generator stator.
The Austrian company Felbermayr’s crane rental division completed a rather special task for an energy corporation at the end of February. The scene of the action: an electricity sub-station in Ernsthofen, in the state of Lower Austria, run by the national electricity company, called Austrian Power Grid. The station is said by the firm to be one of four key network nodes in Austria’s power supply grid.
A 50-year-old transformer had to be removed from the station. In order to keep the transport costs low the voltage transformer had to be split into its component parts on the transformer base itself.
Felbermayr’s on-site project manager Franz Brunbauer reported that the dimensions and weight of the transformer core meant that the removal was not to be underestimated. “Having examined various options, we decided to lift the transformer core from the tank using a double-lift. Two cranes rated at a maximum load of 200 and 250 t were used for the double lift.
108 t shifted 10 m for loading
Before the move could be made, however, the large rail-mounted voltage transformer had to be moved just 10 m from its original location, using grip hoists. “Only after we had completed this move could the 108 t core be lifted out of the chassis and set down in its original location,” Brunbauer explained. The original transformer location had been designed with a leak-proof oil pan underneath it. As a result, the dismantling of the voltage transformer into its constituent parts could be carried out easily, without endangering the environment, Brunbauer elaborated.
The rails are an operational site that Felbermayr knows well too. In December 2016 the corporation’s international low-loader rail transport division carried out the heaviest rail transport ever executed in Europe.
Years of planning preceded the actual lift, with preparations having started in 2012. That year the division was asked by Siemens Erlangen to carry out a feasibility study for the transport of a stator and transport equipment from its German plant in Mülheim an der Ruhr to the a coal-fired power station located in Jaworzno (Poland).
The initial leg by ship to a Polish landing port was soon seen to be eminently feasible, but special attention had to be paid to overland transport in Poland. The port of Gdynia was the first preference for landing. The port in the Gdansk region can operate floating cranes, which ensured that the transfer from the maritime vessel to the rail wagon could be effected. Detailed investigation revealed that such a transport would be possible by rail, using Felbermayr’s special equipment.
The company Rafako was specifically in charge of assembling the power station unit and of managing the Polish leg of the transport operation. Best Logistics, co-owned by Felbermayr, was in charge of the project overall, and also served as the contractor for upstream and downstream transport on the rails. For contractual reasons the point of delivery between seller and buyer lay in the Polish inland port of Opole. A rail transport solution had previously been established from there.
Heaviest European railway shipment
In November 2016 the heavy load was transferred onto a 32-axle Felbermayr wagon in Opole. It was lifted into a tension strap support frame provided by the shipper. The purpose of this framework was to absorb the pulling forces from the jib carriers. The compressive forces were carried by pressure supports, which were also provided by the stator supplier. As a result, a total of 482 t was suspended in the jib carrier wagon. Such a large weight has never before been transported by rail in Europe. Various operational challenges later the stator arrived at its destination early in December.
Apart from the core rail transport solution offered by Felbermayr’s specialist division, the firm and its subsidiaries delivered solutions for upstream and downstream services. For example, Siemens entrusted Felbermayr’s wholly-owned Duisburg-based German subsidiary Haeger & Schmidt with transporting the stator from Mülheim and der Ruhr to Opole. The Polish customer, in turn, commissioned Best Logistics (Felbermayr owns 80% of this Polish company) with downstream services from the rail transport to the machine shop. The corporation’s impressive services were completed by Felbermayr’s Krefeld hub supplying a 1,000 t lifting mast and its Wels branch providing a 24-axle self-propelled transporter for work in the power station.
For the record, Felbermayr reported that its division has thus surpassed its own previous best with this railway transport, having previously hauled a consignment weighing 475 t in the year 2000, also for Siemens.