Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When It Comes To Logistics It's The Big Freight Moves That Make The Blood Pump

Out of Gauge Beer Vats Make a Spectacular Sight
Shipping News Feature

CANADA – Project forwarding contracts are often the most exciting part of what is often, let’s face it, a pretty tedious business. Nothing gets the blood pumping in a dyed in the wool freight man (or possibly woman) like the site of some huge piece of gear aboard the deck of a ship or balanced atop a low loader in what can appear an almost impossible manner.

Despite this there are few such projects which attract as much attention as the current movement of six huge beer vats from the Canadian Great Lakes port of Hamilton to Molson Coors Brewery, near Pearson International Airport. The move has been dogged by ill luck having been postponed four times in December due to bad weather and technical problems but now is inching its way toward its destination.

There have been numerous route changes, each of the tanks are capable of containing six million bottles of beer and, at seven metres wide and over eight metres high when loaded, every cable en route has to be manoeuvred over the tops of the six trucks. Ironically the very bulk of the things meant that from the start all major roads had to be excluded from the route plan, one can cut and reconnect a cable or pipe but road bridges remain immutable and immoveable, so only minor roads could be considered. At forty five metres long the difficulties of the logistics are obvious and thus the variations in route resulting in each turn sometimes taking over an hour.

The carrier, Challenger Motor Freight, has featured here before and is well versed in the movement of out of gauge and heavy lift projects but even for them this one is exceptional. So exceptional in fact, that the company has promoted an inch by inch transcript of the journey on Twitter.

The convoy finally left the docks on the 7th January and estimates were it would take five days to complete. With weather causing further delays for the utility company responsible for rerouting overhead wires the estimate was soon almost doubled. As is usual with these giant convoys travel can only be undertaken from 9pm to 6am to ensure daytime traffic is not affected so, like a giant wagon train, the convoy has to sit the days out at any convenient spot.

Overall the move should take until the weekend to complete, a journey of around 110 kilometres in well over a week (the freeway route is about 65 kilometres and normally takes an hour or so). The move has engendered so much interest that spectators come out to watch the trucks pass and a short video giving an idea of the scale can be seen HERE.

Photo:- Courtesy of Molson Coors.