Calculating weights, dimensions and traffic in order to transport huge windmill parts
By Nick Krewen
IT TAKES A LOT OF ENERGY to deliver a whole lot of energy.
For the better part of the spring and summer, Kruger Energy Inc. shipped in the parts of 44 wind turbines for its $200 million (CDN) wind farm in Port Alma, Ontario, located near the shore of Lake Erie.
To handle the logistics the Quebec-based company hired Dutch transportation giant Mammoet — the massive operation commencing with the arrival of the first shipment of rolled steel turbines at the Morterm Windsor Dock on April 9.
Two weeks later the convoy of oversized loads began winding through the streets of Windsor, Ontario, and up Highway 3 to Port Alma: a five-day-a-week, eight- truckload-aday 69-mile journey that took a little over two hours to complete.
But before the truck wheels could be set in motion, there was four years of meticulous planning that involved — along with Mammoet, Kruger and Morterm — the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), the city of Windsor, Chatham-Kent County and the Ontario Provincial Police (O.P.P.)
“It starts a long way in advance,” says Mammoet project manager Mark Metcalfe.
Kruger worked with the community two years ahead of the project, and wanted a route approved a year before the trucks would start rolling. “These are dimensional loads – and at least one heavy load – so all the bridges, all the structures on that route had to be inspected and signed off for these loads,” says Metcalfe. “That wants to be done a year in advance so there are no surprises there. For something like this, if you don’t have a route, you can’t deliver your project. That’s done well in advance.”
Next up were the various permits — a massive amount of paperwork that continued up until the project’s July 18 final transportation date.
“The city and counties gave us blanket permits,” says Metcalfe. “But the MTO required a permit per load per day. Each of those permits is about seven pages long, so just to get them and transmit those to the site so the guys have them – that’s a huge amount of paperwork.”
O.P.P. Staff Sgt. Ian Chappell also wrote his own traffic plan to address safety concerns. Once the green light was given, the load out began, with different trailers being used for different components of the turbine.
“For us, this stuff is not particularly heavy, it’s only dimensional,” says Metcalfe. “The blades were transported on coaxial Nooteboom trailers. They’re a European manufacturer that builds specialty trailers of all sorts. These trailers stretch out to 140 feet and the full axles at the back can be steered. So they’re not heavy trailers but they’re very good for long blades.” He adds that the carbon fiber blades for the Kruger turbines are approximately 147.6 ft. long.
For the power sections, Metcalfe says Mammoet employed Goldhofer Schnabel attachments on Goldhofer hydraulic trailers. “That allows us to get all the tower sections down actually under the (street) wires,” he says. “It makes for a very long trailer, but at least it gets our height down.”
With the delivery of one complete windmill assembly per day, there are three Schnabel arrangements to handle each power section. A Goldhofer hydraulic platform trailer handles the turbine, which weighs 97 tons, with four four-axle Nootebooms handling the three-blade turbines.
“We also have a couple of miscellaneous dimensional loads,” says Metcalfe. “The hub, spinner and nose cone are loaded onto a single drop-deck trailer and there are some miscellaneous pieces.”
Various divisions of Mammoet supplied the equipment – the Nootebooms shipped out of Texas and the Schnabels from Quebec – and the route itself was fairly straightforward.
“Really, it just got down to the logistics of traffic,” says Metcalfe. “The route only had three corners that we had to manually steer – which is amazing – with two of them in Windsor and another close to the site.”
Transport also proved to be no problem for Windsor commuters. “Our loads were able to stay within their own lanes, and each load had two police escorts and two private escorts,” he says. “But the local police and the O.P.P. really embraced the project and it all went smoothly.”
Metcalfe said there were minimal delays due to inclement weather — and only three days when deliveries couldn’t be made. “We had one storm with lightning that the O.P.P. hesitated in starting out with the delivery, just because a bad storm is going to have negative impact to local traffic anyway with torrential rain and limited visibility, so they didn’t want our loads out there the same day,” he says. “That only happened once, but onsite, when rain or wind affects the cranes, they couldn’t unload our transporters. So in a case like that, we either canceled before we delivered or we delivered a whole set out there and weren’t able to unload them, so the next day got canceled.”
In fact, the volatile weather for those three days helped Mammoet in another area of the project concerning the six shiploads of materials from Denmark and China. “The delay worked out pretty well,” he says. “If we hadn’t had a delay onsite in unloading, we were going to run out of components in the port just because of the schedule for the ships, which meant suspending our transport operations for two weeks. But the weather delays at the site took care of that.”
The first 262-ft. tall Port Alma turbine was erected in June, with the project completed on budget and on schedule. By fall, it’s expected that the Port Alma project will be fully operational, providing enough power to sustain 30,000 homes.