Power Station Boiler (Part 1/2)

Neel Ratti has just returned to the UK from China, after overseeing the loading of an extremely challenging break bulk shipment of a power station boiler, weighing in at 115 tonnes.

Tuscor Lloyds prides itself on the experience and problem solving abilities of our Projects Team so when the breakbulk shipment of 115 tonne power station boiler, transported from Hunan province in China to Venice in Italy, was first pitched to us we readily agreed to take on the challenge. When the time came we were worried about sending a member of our team to China as the news broke of the Japan Earthquake, the subsequent Tsunami and radioactive spillage from the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor affecting the region. After monitoring the situation carefully however, the company felt that any risk to Neel’s safety was negligible and he promptly flew out to China to begin overseeing the project.

The first problem encountered was due to the boiler’s dimensions, 1425cm long x 400cm wide x 425cm high. The height meant that it was necessary to make use of a specialised low load trailer to ensure safe navigation of bridges along the road between the shipper’s door and the port. This solution however created its own set of problems as undulations in the road surface halted progress on several occasions. A specialist team of surveyors and trailer operators followed the cargo along the full 1242km route to Shanghai solving problems along the way. Through the journey we came across trees, signs, overhead wires, as well as uneven road surfaces and sharp inclines.

Due to the tenacity and perseverance of the road team, the Boiler arrived safely in Shanghai in time to be loaded onto the contracted vessel. The Shipping Line made things difficult by deciding last minute that they wouldn’t receive the cargo by trailer but needed delivery to port by feeder instead. These things never go smoothly but Neel rolled his sleeves up and spent 2 days and 2 nights organizing the trans-loading at a local port and a dedicated feeder to take the cargo to the Shipping Line terminal in time to meet the mother vessel.

After all that the Shipping Line cancelled the loading due to bad weather. This was a disaster and logistical puzzle of epic proportions. How to handle a 115 tonne, 14 metre long piece at short notice? No replacement sailing, no place to store it, nowhere to take it. Never one to give up easily, Neel had to move quickly and find somewhere to store the boiler (on the trailer or on the floor) whilst also arranging for alternative sailings via Hong Kong and/or Busan and deciding on the best method of transport to those ports. Extending his stay in Shanghai for another 5 days, Neel was under severe stress at this point as various options and permutations were considered, not to mention being exposed to huge abortive costs.

Within the project shipping industry problems like these arise, and if you want to succeed then a positive “can do” outlook is essential. Neel has this quality in abundance and sacrificed time in the office and most importantly with his family back home to get the job done. So after 15 days in China and severe delays, the break bulk shipment was finally ready to be loaded onto the feeder barge using a floating crane in the local special handling facility. The feeder made its way to the international container terminal in Shanghai and waited overnight to be loaded as break bulk cargo on board the mother vessel the next day. The Chinese Gods remained angry and the weather turned again as Neel arrived on board the container vessel to watch the loading. Despite this and the port closing shortly afterwards, the cargo was loaded successfully using another beast of a floating crane. With a skilled team of stevedores and marine surveyors in attendance the shipment was secured on board and ready to be set on its way to the port of Trieste in Italy.

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