In this increasingly international industry, there’s growing demand for quick and reliable freight forwarding, and the niche market of transporting outsized, unusual or dangerous goods is on the rise. Innovate methods and super-sized vehicles are answering the call of modern logistics, and many specialist firms are proud to say they can transport nearly anything to nearly anywhere—and we’re getting closer to getting rid of the nearly.
Would road haulage be the best option for your goods?
Road haulage forms the backbone of solving national and European transport problems, and firms are using their years of experience and advanced equipment to overcome the challenge of transporting some uniquely awkward objects. The question is less what kind of vehicle is best, but more how much is required of the road haulage firms. An abnormal load is anything that’s 44,000 kg or more, has a width of 2.9 metres, or a rigid length of more than 18.65 metres. Typical loads can be anything from a coach to a light aircraft, or generators and wind turbines, construction vehicles and materials, and everything in-between. Given these dimensions and odd shapes, there’s a lot to consider when specialist transportation is needed, and a single move can take months or even years to plan. The actual transportation is just the tip of the logistics iceberg. First off, there’s certain legal requirements to consider, and obtaining the right permits is often the first step on the road. These need to be applied for way in advance. The police, highway authorities and bridge and structure owners need to be consulted with as early as possible. They may need to provide escorts or overseers, or need to give you vital information to make the day run as smoothly as possible.
Determining the route is a long process and the best way to a destination may be the longest and slowest way. This is where experience pays, and the well-established firms will know the best ways around city centres and other hazards. An articulated lorry with a flat bed trailer is often the vehicle of choice. It’s simple and strong design means loads can be fastened to the top with ease, and straps can be used to secure the payload. With a flatbed there’s no rigid walls to fit between, or a height restriction.
There’s also the loading, unloading and storage of the load that needs to be considered, and specialist transport companies are experienced in lifting and preparing heavy loads. Once a route is decided, and traffic and hazards checked on the day, the load is ready to move. For extreme loads such as a generator or extremely large vat, entire roads may need to be closed and diversions put in place. It’s not only the flatbed that’s required, but a fleet of support vehicles are often called in to provide a physical warning and oversee all angles of the load. Unlike sea and air freight forwarding, road haulage involves a team of vehicles and logistics experts.
Air Transport for your goods
Specialist air transport is a popular method of transporting goods long distances in short time-spans, and it doesn’t get more impressive than the Antanov 225 or Mriya. This giant transporter represents the best of air freight, and takes pride of place for many air freight firms. Specialised air freight offers an extremely flexible timetable, and doesn’t require the extensive planning road haulage needs. As the Antanov 225 is specially designed for cargo, every detail has been thought of to ease loading and optimise available space. The plane’s nose lifts to accommodate super-sized single objects, and no ground-based loading equipment is required. There’s ramps, extra cargo doors, cranes and winches, meaning the crew can independently load and unload all items. As well as handling abnormal loads, it can also cope with landing on a variety of surfaces, including ice, shingle, and unpaved airfields. It may be a giant, but it can handle short runways and challenging airfields, making it an incredibly versatile and reliable method of transporting goods.
As well as impressive capabilities, the Antanov carries a prestigious transport history, breaking 240 world records, including the transportation of the world’s heaviest cargo at 253 tonnes. It’s reliability means it’s ideal for the fast-paced world of international freight forwarding, and it’s bulk and design give it the perfect build for transporting abnormal loads. Unlike flatbed trailers in road haulage, planes such as these give a company the ability to move special goods quickly and with minimum disruption to other road/air users.
Perhaps Sea Freight
Sea freight forwarding is hardly a niche market, and container ships are able to transport all kinds of different cargo. The standard issue shipping container means that goods can be arranged for transport in an easy and effective way. If it’ll fit, and it’s safe, it can go. However, there are some vessels designed for loads which are too dangerous for containers, and they fill a small but important sector in the market. Transporting goods such as chemicals requires a highly-specialised vessel with strict procedures and protocols. Unlike the average shipping vessel, these are much smaller, and are either specially designed or adapted. Their unique cargo tanks are either made from stainless steel or coated with specialised coatings. An integrated heating system maintains the loads health and stability. Stainless steel tanks are able to carry what are known as aggressive acids, such as sulphuric and phosphoric acids, goods which would be far more complex to transport by road or air. Separate pumps for each tank and efficient tank cleaning machines avoid cross-contamination. These specific designs enable firms to get large amounts of dangerous goods to where they’re needed.
Specialist transport remains an important part of the industry, and firms that handle abnormal loads need the equipment and experience to overcome transport challenges. Specialist vehicles have evolved and adapted to help firms meet these challenges, but it’s still down to the individuals working them to ensure that abnormal loads reach their destinations safely.