Wehlau Transporte is a family business from Nordenham that is now 31 years young. Most of the transport company’s activities take place in the Bremerhaven region. Wehlau specialises in transporting containers loaded with special cargo. They have a fleet of eight vehicles that are fully set up to transport these ‘Flats’ with wide, high and often heavy cargo. We drive along with Ralf Wehlau using the company’s newest semi-trailer, a four axle Broshuis SL.
Most trips by Karl Wehlau take no more than twenty minutes, from the premises of a port operator to the container terminal. “Special cargo arrives here by low loader. All kinds of machines are placed on containers here before they go overseas. We do trips from here to the terminal, a distance of less than five kilometres. That means that I sometimes only have to refuel every ten days, but it also means that I do a very high number of short trips in a day. For example this Broshuis trailer has only been in use for a couple of months, but I've already done something like a thousand trips with it. That also means that I’ve already extended and retracted the semi-trailer a thousand times. Other drivers who do long trips might only have to extend one or two times per week, but this is what we do. It also means that I am very particular about my equipment. Every week, I clean the extension mechanism to keep everything in good order. That is essential, because with twenty trips per day, a minute of messing around because something is sticky means twenty minutes of delay. That means that with good maintenance, I can do one trip more per day, and that adds up.’’
Karl is a perfectionist, which you see in his Broshuis SL trailer. The semi-trailer has already been in use for a few months, but it could be put straight into a trade show. Dings to the paint are touched up immediately, and Karl has replaced all the bolts with stainless steel versions. “I’ve also modified the extension system for the overwidth signs. It now works very quickly and easily. I’ve also made a water-tight junction box on each sign which makes it possible to replace bulbs very quickly in the event of damage. You might think that we wouldn't have to be so particular on these short trips, but the supervision here in the port is very strict. For instance we need BF3 support for the container we are carrying now, even if it is only over a short distance to the terminal.’’
The Broshuis SL trailer with its three hydraulically-steered axles and the hydraulic suspension provides a solution for Wehlau. Karl: “When I saw SL concept for the first time, I knew immediately that this trailer was designed for us. As you see, we load an extremely wide variety of heavy and oversized cargo. It often extends out on one side, which usually puts the centre of gravity very far off centre. The container on there now doesn’t look too bad because it only sticks over the right-hand side a little bit. Even so, I can see on my gauges that there is quite a lot of weight on the wheels on that side. The good thing about the SL trailer is that it always stabilises nicely. Another advantage of the SL concept is that the trailer stays good and stable while manoeuvring.’’
The trip from the company where the containers are loaded for the journey by ship takes the public road. It is a real port road that has a lot of railway crossings and a fairly battered road surface. The route take two bridges, and although they are quite high, a low trailer is still very important. “You never know with this work. Our permit for this trailer allows us 5.50 metres height, 5 metres width and 48 tonnes of net cargo. That makes this four-axle SL trailer unique, because we can haul that payload capacity in combination with a standard 6x2 tractor unit. With the extremely low ride height of the SL trailer, we can transport objects up to almost five metres high, which is very important for us.’’