Issue 2(44) / February 2011
The Challenger’s Beer Route
These towers were to be transported from the Hamilton port where they had arrived from Germany. The final transportation stage – via the roads of Ontario - was most problematic. The tanks were to overcome hundreds of obstacles – 4.5 m tall bridges and overhead roads, power supply lines, phone lines, stoplights, oncoming and following traffic, etc. The company CHALLENGER, indeed, challenged this task, and resolved the extraordinary issue.
CHALLENGER is one of the largest Canadian trucking companies, with headquarters in Cambridge, Ontario, and it owns a mighty truck and trailer fleet (about 1500 trucks, mainly Volvo and Freightliner, and many more trailers, as well as a special unit which deals with transportation of non-standard loads in terms of weight and size.) This unit “employs” heavy-duty tractors Kenworth (with three rear axles and a heavy duty front axle with wide low profile tires). These trucks have CATERPILLAR engines with the capacity of 625 h.p. and 18-speed transmissions. Back axles are equipped with a full deadlock.
The trailers in this unit are also special, even unique, they are configured differently depending on the size and the weight of the load, their length can vary, and there is a remote steering control on the rear axles. The number of axles varies from 3 to 15; they can carry up to 150 tones.
“What our customer didn’t want to hear was I can’t. You need to find a way that you can,” said Frank DeVries, who works for Challenger Motor Freight. This was the biggest column in the history of Ontario transportation.
A little bit of history:
The Molson brewery has 60 fermenters already, but due to the growing demand the company decided to boost production at its main brewery in Toronto located near international Pearson airport.
Last spring, they went shopping for new tanks and wound up in Germany. They found ZIEMANN, the one and only company able to complete an extraordinary project and manufacture the fermenters within a reasonable period of time. The issue was that the company was based in Germany. ZIEMANN has existed for 150 years as an international hi-tech corporate group known for their revolutionary and innovative designs of equipment for the beer industry. This company has worked on the brewery equipment since 1852, is highly experience in this industry, and it took on the project to manufacture 6 tanks for the Canadian brewery company.
The Ziemann factory is the size of 20 football fields and is located on the river Main in Burgstadt, a town in a densely forested pocket of northern Bavaria. The tanks made there are hand manufactured by welding huge corrosion-resistant plates. They make one gigantic tank a day but still. ZIEMANN accepted the Canadian order despite the fact that it was non-standard and delivery terms were rather limited. The contract was signed in August 2010.
Frank DeVries travelled to Germany specifically to take measurements of the fermenters’ size and weight, and design a detailed plan for their transportation in Ontario. “I always like challenges and I hope I will manage it this time, too,” said DeVries.
Frank is a 28-old veteran of Challenger, and all this time he has worked on transporting “over dimensional” goods like entire houses, wind engine parts, non-standard manufacturing equipment, etc.
On November 4, 2010, the tanks left the manufacturing facility and travelled a short distance of several hundred meters to the river port and then down the Main and Rhine rivers on a barge. When the barge arrived in the port of Antwerp, Belgium, the tanks were moved to the Federal Pioneer ocean vessel. The sea trip to the New World was three weeks long and the crew faced storm winds, 6-metre waves and visibility of no more than 10 meters. The captain reduced the speed by 10 knots at points but after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, St. Lawrence River, multiple floodgates and lakes of Ontario, the vessel safely arrived at the port of Hamilton, almost on schedule, on November 24, 2010.
Lots of big cargo comes into the Hamilton port, but no shipments had the capacity to hold almost 6 million bottles of beer. Due to strong winds it was impossible to unload the tankers for several days, and they had to wait for more favorable conditions. While the tankers were on their way, DeVries and his team were working on their next puzzle – how to transport the load on the roads belonging to 5 various municipalities of Ontario, avoiding all bridges and overhead roads.
End of November, 75 people representing 5 municipalities and 20 different companies owning electric, phone and optical fibre networks met in a boardroom to sort it out. They had to move their wires for the travel time of the column, to avoid contact with the over dimensional load.
Finally, they chose one route, which of course was not the shortest option, did not include major roads, only minor ones, and avoided bridges and crossovers. Experts surveyed the route 70 times, and evaluated potential problems, which were supposed to be resolved, and which could emerge during transportation. They decided the convoy would travel at night to avoid a transport collapse and save commuters from gigantic traffic jams. The convoy team and drivers would have a rest in nearby motels on their way. For people who live along the route, the move would mean certain interruption. Traffic going in the same direction would not be unable to pass due to the width of the convoy which takes up two lanes, and smaller two-lane roads would be closed completely. During the day cars with the over dimensional load would park along the road and take up a lane meant for traffic.
Cable, phone and hydro service along the route were supposed to go down for half-hour to two hour periods, area by area. The convoy would move at a walking pace so that the crew could control every meter of the journey and overcome obstacles as they arise.
Technicians would move wires and traffic lights as the trucks reach them, and put them back in place afterwards Corners would be especially slow — a tiller operator at the back of each truck would walk behind and steer the load with a remote control. The move was delayed several times due to weather conditions, then Christmas holiday and problems with fixing the tankers on the trailers, etc. Finally, on January 6, 2011, the convey began the big move, and the journey took 10 days just to pass the distance of 108 km (!) from the port of Hamilton to the brewery location in the Northern part of Toronto, at the intersection of highways 401 and 427, near Dixon Road.
A standard route from the port to the brewery would be only 48 km long, and it would take 40 minutes to complete. The special load arrived in the morning of January 16, and ZIEMANN specialists started installation works immediately.
The complicated logistical project was completed seamlessly.
Truck Crashes: Lawyers’ view.According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency that oversees the trucking industry, these truck crashes and accidents cost roughly $19 billion each year.
When a truck crash happens, rarely is the accident merely a fender-bender. Most of these collisions result in major damage to smaller vehicles, as well as serious injuries to drivers of those vehicles. Furthermore, a large number of these crashes are completely preventable and are the result of risks that are well known to the trucking industry. State and federal government officials who are charged with regulating truck safety have not been as proactive as they should have been over the past two decades with regard to addressing these known risks.
The result is a lot of unnecessary preventable death and mayhem on our highways. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that approximately 5,000 people each year die as a result of a trucking accident, which is equal to the number of people who would die in 26 major plane crashes. The American public would never stand for it if the Aviation Industry caused so many deaths, but for some reason, it has always been "acceptable" for the Trucking Industry to kill thousands of people. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency that oversees the trucking industry, these truck crashes and accidents cost roughly $19 billion each year.
NHTSA numbers also show that commercial trucks only make up 4 percent of all registered vehicles, yet are responsible for 11 percent of all fatal accidents. Because these accidents are so catastrophic and cause so much damage, regulators should have a real sense of urgency in improving safety regulations that govern the use of trucks on our highways and in enforcing the law. Every day, more people are killed in preventable truck crashes because of inadequate regulations and lax regulation enforcement.
One of the main reasons for the severity of these crashes and accidents is simply the large size of the 18-wheelers. Truck drivers do not have the maneuverability or ability to stop that is possible in smaller vehicles. Many of these trucks weigh 80,000 pounds, some even more than that. A truck carrying that much weight will require a lot of distance to be able to come to a complete stop. Also, if the truck tries to stop too quickly or makes an evasive turn that's too sharp, the load could shift, causing a rollover. The large disparity in mass between a large truck and a smaller vehicle, from a physics standpoint, means that when a crash occurs the "change in velocity" (or "Delta V") is almost all transferred to the smaller vehicle. This is what results in the catastrophic injuries and deaths that are so common in the trucking industry.
The FMCSA is in the process of implementing new safety rules that will roll out in 2011. Drivers and motor carriers are expected to be held more accountable for violations of these rules. Factors that cause many accidents, such as fatigue, excessive driving time, speeding or distracted driving, are supposed to receive additional emphasis under this new program. One of the biggest problems with enforcement of the hours of service rules has been that there is no effective way for roadside enforcement officers to check the true hours driven since driver falsification of their driving logs is so rampant in the industry. This problem could be eliminated almost overnight if the FMCSA would simply require motor carriers to use the technology that currently exists, but strong industry pressure has kept such regulations from being implemented. The FMCSA should immediately pass a regulation that requires all motor carriers to utilize Electronic On Board Recording Devices (EOBRs) on all of their equipment.
Even with these additional safeguards in place, all drivers need to be alert to protect themselves from any potential accident. If you or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident, discussing your case with an experienced attorney can help you make sure that your rights are protected, and that the appropriate parties are held accountable.
Article by Dollar, Burns & Becker, L.C.
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