Four Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy-duty trucks transport gigantic pressure tank

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 15, 2020

After months of planning, Stuttgart-based Paule, a haulage company specialising in heavy-duty transportation, recently completed an order from Maschinenbau Scholz GmbH &Co. KG in Coesfeld with its usual precision. The job: to transport a huge autoclave – a gas-tight pressure tank in which carbon parts are ‘baked‘ at an operating pressure of 12 bar and a temperature of 250 degrees Celsius – 33 kilometres from the manufacturer‘s premises in Coesfeld in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia to the dock on the Datteln-Ems canal in Lüdinghausen.

The particular challenge of this type of transport operation is the high centre of gravity of the load, which in this case weighed about 175 tonnes and was 25 metres long and about seven metres in height and width. Here the load was lashed to a coupled platform semitrailer with 22 axles. As a result it was essential not to exceed an incline angle of five degrees, otherwise there was a risk of the load tipping. To transport the load, the hydraulically adjustable platforms were adjusted to 1.07 metres for a transportation height of about eight metres.

Four Mercedes-Benz semitrailer trucks – of which two were 4-axle heavy-duty trucks each with 650hp – from Paule were in operation. The two heavy-duty trucks were used to transport the autoclave while the other two took the 20-tonne lid and other accessory parts – each with a transportation width of about eight metres – to the inland water vessel which was to bring the complex machine to Rotterdam where it was to be transported further by sea.

Exactly as planned the colossus rolled out of the factory premises in the industrial estate in Coesfeld at 10pm, towed and pushed by the Mercedes-Benz heavy-duty trucks. After a journey of three hours the convoy reached the key spot at kilometre 22 – a 90-degree junction where the verges had been gravelled and then covered with plastic panels in preparation for the load. 

However, that still wasn’t enough; the towing vehicle driven by Hermann Futterknecht didn’t have enough traction on the panels to tow the heavy load around the tight bend. Dieter Wascher in the second heavy-duty truck had to turn, drive a detour of several kilometres, and then reverse around two kilometres to reach his colleague. Once the two heavy-duty trucks were coupled to one another, this tricky section was quickly mastered. The well-practised team also managed the last 50 metres of the journey – the tight bends from the B474 road down to the docks – without any problems. After a good six hours on the road, the transportation convoy with a total weight of almost 330 tonnes finally reached its destination.