Combex Bouwlogistiek is a rapidly-growing company which is specialised in exceptional transports. In 2013, Combex was one of the first customers to buy an SL-Trailer for its fleet. The first trailer was a nine-axle triple extendible SL-Trailer. Now, three years later, the company is purchasing a second SL-Trailer, this time in a 3+7 configuration.
Combex is the abbreviation of the Dutch Combinatie van Expediteurs ('Combination of Shippers') – and the company does full justice to its name. In recent years, the company has grown very rapidly on the takeover of two large carriers. Following these takeovers, the Combex fleet has increased to more than 120 tractor units and a much larger number of semi-trailers. The fleet has recently been expanded to include a 100-tonne Broshuis SL-Trailer.
Luitzen de Boer is driving his Scania R620 8x4 tractor unit with torque converter and Combex' newest trailer. The trailer is carrying a concrete element weighing almost sixty tonnes. The element is resting on slanting supports, as it would otherwise be too wide. Although this results in an odd centre of gravity, with the hydraulic suspension this is not a problem. Luitzen manoeuvres the heavy load under the crane in Soest and releases the chains. The crane driver will now lift the heavy concrete element into place.
Luitzen has often worked with the SL-Trailer in the past three years, during which time he has had close contacts with the trailer builder in Kampen, the Netherlands. ‘’We've always found working with the SL-Trailer excellent, although some adjustments were required, in particular shortly after delivery. These semi-trailers, with their hydraulic independent suspension, are unique by virtue of their tremendous stability. We use the trailer, for example, to transport ship sections of an enormous weight and with an extremely high centre of gravity. I wouldn't dare to transport them on any other type of semi-trailer.’’
In addition to the trailer's tremendous stability, Luitzen also praises the wheel angle and low height of the semi-trailer. “We transport a large number of concrete elements, and then we also need to enter city centres. The SL-Trailer offers us ideal steering, so we are able to use a relatively compact semi-trailer to deliver the heaviest loads right into city centres.” The new ten-axle semi-trailer has some differences from the nine-axle semi-trailer Luitzen used until now. ‘’Firstly, the axles are further apart. That's of benefit to the issue of permits, but it also means that this semi-trailer is considerably longer than the nine-axle trailer. This semi-trailer has a length of about 25 metres when it is retracted, and 41 metres when extended. This double extendible semi-trailer is then very nearly as long as its triple extendible predecessor.’’
The semi-trailer can be divided into a three-axle and seven-axle semi-trailer or used as a ten-axle semi-trailer. Although the length is variable, what is referred to a spacer can be inserted to increase the length of the SL-Trailer even further. “It's a kind of table that can be inserted as required. This SL-Trailer offers us to the answer to almost all our exceptional transports.” Luitzen finds that the greatest difference from the first SL-Trailer lies in the operation of the semi-trailer. “It's clear that extra development work has taken place in the past three years, as everything is more refined. The operation of the crane, for example, is now much simpler. That makes the work easier.” Luitzen is by now on his way to Friesland, where he is to load a heavy concrete beam at Haitsma Beton that is destined for the new A9 motorway near Amsterdam. The semi-trailer needs to be extended by four metres to carry this heavy element, which weighs no less than 85 tonnes. The concrete element is loaded onto two supports and then secured with heavy chains. Luitzen then gets to work with a roller and wallpaper glue, since the Haitsma logo must be attached to the enormous concrete beam: Haitsma, in common with every other company, is not averse to a little publicity. Luitzen has now finished his work for the day. He will go home to sleep, and get up early tomorrow so that he can avoid the rush hour on his journey to Amsterdam.