35 Meter pressure vessel
Transporting a huge 35 metre long pressure vessel is the current challenge of Theo Fokkema of Bolk Transport. At their home base in Almelo, Theo receives all the instructions from the planning department, including the announcement that he may build the Broshuis pendle axle semi low-loader to a 3+6 configuration and that he must take a set of extra extension girders with him. “We have several pendular axle semi low-loaders from Broshuis, so that we can exchange the dollies with each other. For example, we can build a 2+6, a 2+7, a 3+6 and a 3+7,” says Fokkema. "Fortunately, the conversion is simple and therefore done quickly and makes our fleet very flexible for large and heavy loads in this market segment."
With the dolly and the extension beams on top of the 6-axle axle set, Fokkema stays exactly within the 21 meter combination length for Germany, so that he can start the outward journey without escort and exemptions.
The outward journey is a short distance across the border in Germany, where a large pressure vessel of 35 meters long, 3 meters in diameter and 55 tons can be loaded in Coesfeld. It is precisely 09:00 when the impressive combination drives onto the factory site. Fokkema reports to the reception and is soon allowed to drive through a large factory. The pressure vessel is ready to be loaded in the enormous hall, but first the trailer has to be built-up to the correct length. “We have plenty of time,” says Fokkema. "We are not allowed to drive until 10 p.m. tonight, so that we can ensure that everything is done properly and safely."
Within the hour Fokkema is already at the coffee machine because the trailer is ready (double extended and the extension bar built in) to be loaded. The employees of the company also drink a cup of coffee, after which they all go to the hall, where loading must be done. With a large overhead crane, the huge vessel is carefully hoisted, little by little, towards the trailer. Fokkema has a look of concentration and gives directions to exactly where the cargo should be placed. He knows better than anyone where he wants the load for the ideal weight distribution. When the load is on the trailer, it is apparent that the trailer has no problem with the size and weight. “These trailers are real powerhouses, you can seriously transport anything with them. The tare weight is low and the possibility to build the semi-trailer in various configurations is really fantastic”.
When the load is on the trailer, it then needs to be secured.. This is a serious task in which Fokkema will not be distracted. If the load is being secured onto the trailer, Fokkema lowers the trailer by means of a lifting device. a radio remote control. When we ask about this impressive, compact device, Fokkema starts to laugh. “This is really my great friend,” he says. “I can operate the entire trailer with this remote control, so I don't have to stand under or close to anything. That makes my work not only easier, but also a lot safer. I can stand at a safe and clear distance to operate the trailer.”
When the load is fixed, the huge colossus starts moving. The combination moves out at a walking pace. There is sufficient space, which makes it easy for him to do this in collaboration with the employees of the factory. Once outside, he has to wait for his colleagues (supervisors) and the TÜV. Before the transport is allowed on the road, the transport receives a 'TÜV abnahme Prüfung'. Here it is checked whether the transport meets the statutory requirements. At the stroke of 10 p.m., all the flashing lights go on and 4 escort cars and the vehicle weighing over than 100 tons are in motion. The route is not long but has plenty of challenges. With three cars in front of Fokkema and one car behind him, he has to guide the exceptional transport safely to Haltern am See.
The company is located in a beautiful location just outside Coesfeld, where long transports have already been taken into account when building the roads. The first part goes directly against the traffic, because there is a nice bend here, so you don't have to manoeuvre. It is immediately apparent why multiple escorts are needed to properly and safely supervise the transport. Two escorts stop the traffic and the others stay close to the transport. The rest of road 474 is no problem for transport, after which, the entire convoy can turn right onto highway 43. When we are well and truly on the highway, the entire transport has to get off again to drive the last part back inside. The same steering trick has to be done here, as at the factory, this runs smoothly again.
After just over an hour we are safely at our destination. To reach the exact location, there is one more obstacle to overcome. A fairly sharp bend to the right. The attendant behind Fokkema has the remote control of the trailer in his hand, so that Fokkema only has to concentrate on the front. Now it comes down to real teamwork. The two men are in contact via the walkie-talkie. The axles are fully steered from the escort car, so the large steering angle of the semi-trailer is apparent. This is essential in these situations. It goes so well that the entire combination gets through this tricky corner in one go. Fokkema stops the huge colossus at the destination and thanks his colleagues for their cooperation. "I'm going to sleep now because tomorrow morning at 07:00 am the crane will be ready to unload the load."