Scotland’s Bladerunner

Turbine Move Defies Weather

By Malcolm Ramsay

Weather conditions in the West of Scotland, UK, can be extreme at any time of the year, and while the region’s high average wind speeds are ideal for generating renewable power, they also deliver considerable challenges for the transportation of the very parts needed to capture that power.

Project cargo specialist Collett & Sons was met with this challenge when it was tasked with transporting a shipment of eight over-dimensional E82 wind turbines from King George V Dock, or KGV, in Glasgow, Scotland, on behalf of German manufacturer Enercon.

Based in Aurich, Lower Saxony, Enercon has manufactured wind turbines since the mid-1980s and has production facilities predominantly in Germany, but also worldwide in countries including Sweden, Canada and Portugal. Its E82 turbine has a rated power of 3 megawatts and each bottom tower section has a gross vehicle weight of 111 tonnes.

Kicking off the move, Enercon contracted Collett & Sons with the transport section of the project. “It was our responsibility to provide adequate trucks and trailers for vessel discharges at KGV into store, as well as the transport of all components from store to site following a day-by-day delivery schedule,” Joe Collett, project manager at Collett & Sons, told Breakbulk.

Consisting of 10 abnormal load components in total, the consignments were shipped from Portugal and Germany to Glasgow. With each turbine featuring 39-meter-long blades and 67-meter-high towers, the project required specialized planning to ensure the safe transit of each section. Destined for the Inverclyde Windfarm in Greenock, some 20 miles away from the KGV Dock, the turbines will form one of the largest onshore wind projects in the area.

Sea Leg Considerations

Niall Herr, logistics coordinator at Enercon, explained that its global procurement department compared various transportation modes for delivery, which led to shipment via chartered sea vessel being selected as the optimum mode. “Considering the scale of the wind farm, direct transport of the components by truck via the ferry network is a more costly option, and therefore was not considered in this case.”

Having selected road transit from KGV dock, Enercon then had to find a solution to move 128 components across a variety of motorways, dual carriageways and A-roads to the project site. Aware of the complex nature of the cargo, Enercon carried out a comprehensive procurement process involving numerous technical meetings prior to selecting Collett & Sons.

“Due to their excellent industry reputation, highly professional management structure and expansive fleet, Collett Transport were deemed to be the ideal haulier to provide on-carriage haulage services for the Inverclyde project,” Herr said. With three depots located across the UK – Halifax, Goole and Grangemouth – Collett & Sons operates a fleet of heavy-lift trucks, specialist trailers and self-propelled modular trailers, providing breakbulk logistics throughout the UK and Europe.

Given the varied terrain, road surfaces along the route and the need to navigate densely populated areas, the team from Collett & Sons started with a detailed review of handling processes for each step.

Enercon’s Herr explained that as its components are not standard general cargo, heavy gauge lifting gear is required to lift its turbine components at all handling locations. “Our comprehensive handling manual, which advises the correct procedure for handling of our wind turbine components, is a significant document which must be referenced by all our handling agents, hauliers and crane contractors before they undertake any activities,” he said.

Collett said that the heights, weights and widths of the components had to be taken into consideration when selecting the appropriate trailers. Alongside that, the trailer configurations had to be fit for purpose on site, with the site’s maximum axle weight of 12 tonnes per axle. “This became a crucial deciding factor towards selecting adequate trailers,” he said.

To ensure the efficiency of the move, all components were drawn on AutoCAD initially and allocated to a specific trailer. This allowed the team to accurately replicate each drawing to calculate its precise movement to site.

On the Move

Having created a detailed plan for the move, the team from Collett & Sons then prepared its modular trailers, fashioned in a 3-bed-4 formation, as well as its triple extendable blade trailers. “The cargo was loaded onto our trailers utilizing crane vehicles. KGV Clyde Port Ltd. discharged the vessel operating their crane vehicles, with third-party crane services offloading and loading the components in store,” Collett explained.

Once safely loaded at the dockside, the cargo began its slow journey towards Inverclyde, navigating under low overhanging cables on route. With each bottom tower section measuring 4.3 meters in diameter the team relied on the hydraulic trailer capabilities to lower the trailer suspension and allow a running height of 4.7 meters.

The size of the cargo also caused issues for the slow-moving convoy, as Collett & Sons had to coordinate with local authorities to ensure escorts and permitting requirements were met. As Herr explained: “Considering the difficulties/possible restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Collett were deemed and proved to be highly competent with respect to securing abnormal load permits and police escort availability.”

With the breakbulk packages underway and all necessary permits secured, the next challenge faced on the journey was a deterioration in the weather as autumnal squalls forced Collett & Sons to stop transit to ensure the safety of the crew and cargo. In all, three days were lost to adverse weather conditions over the project’s duration.

Finally, after 22 days in transit the turbine components were pre-delivered to the project site at Inverclyde Wind Farm. After unloading the cargo using third-party cranes, final installation of all eight turbines was able to proceed. Scheduled for completion in late 2020, Inverclyde Wind Farm is expected to produce 24 megawatts in total, generating enough electricity to power 18,000 homes, with each installed turbine extending 110 meters in height.  

Based in the UK, Malcolm Ramsay has a background in business analysis and technology writing, with an emphasis on transportation and ports.

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