Earlier this month South Field Energy, a division of Advanced Power Service, awarded Bechtel Corporation a $1.3 billion contract to build the South Field Energy facility in Columbiana County, Ohio. The 1,182-megawatt plant will create enough clean energy from natural gas to power one million homes in the Northeastern part of the state. Slated for completion in 2021 the plant’s construction will create over 1,000 on-site jobs with an untold amount of employment in transportation and logistics. The planning and movement of some material and equipment to the site is made even more critical due to its size and weight. At the heart of the plant, two GE gas turbines will produce electricity through steam generation and heat recovery. Manufactured at GE’s facility in Greenville, S.C., Advanced Power the designated project manager must arrange transportation for these units to the plant in Wellsville, Ohio.

A Logistics Nightmare

South Field is Advanced Power’s second project with the completion of “Carroll County Energy” in December of 2017. They’ve already gained experience in moving oversize pieces and Bechtel also has a wealth of expertise in handling this type of cargo. Many factors affect High and Heavy shipments not the least of which are height and weight limitations over our nation’s highways, and bridge and tunnel restrictions in route.  The Federal Highway Administration set these limits through the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. On U.S. Federal highways, a commercial vehicle is allowed a maximum width of 102 inches and a maximum weight of 80,000 pounds gross weight.  Each state can set additional limits above the national mandate by issuing permits for specific moves. The state will also indicate axle weight guidelines specific to the type of flatbed or chassis to be used. In 1975 the FHA established a bridge formula “to limit the weight-to-length ratio of a vehicle crossing a bridge. This is accomplished either by spreading weight over additional axles or by increasing the distance between axles.”

Similar guidelines are placed on tunnel crossings to assure that height and weight restrictions are adhered to. Additionally, most states also place limitations on the time of day in which out of gauge cargo can be moved, adding to the complexity of pre-planning. With a multitude of regulations and route challenges, the learning curve for project cargo can be steep without the help of specialists in this field.

Preliminary Planning is Worth a Pound of Freight

A project manager has tools they can use to evaluate the route even before a contractor or forwarder is designated. For example, Bentley Systems offers a host of software to assist in handling the over the road challenges. Meg Davis was kind enough to provide insight into the various platforms Bentley offers to plan and execute highway moves across the US. 

SUPERLOAD Core: This software allows logistics managers to make a preliminary review of routes for oversize, overweight vehicles. It streamlines the submission of state documentation and provides more accuracy in obtaining special cargo permits and permit insurance. 

SUPERLOAD Routing: Real-time validation of vehicle permits is matched with route-specific road conditions and restrictions. The software will generate preferred routes based on origin and destination information and allows the user to input truck configuration and load information down to the weight distribution per axel. SUPERLOAD Routing produces a detailed map including bridge and tunnel clearances in route.

SUPERLOAD Bridge Analysis: A live analysis of height and weight limits, as well as temporary restrictions including time of day crossings, can be added to your route to optimize cargo movement over state and or interstate highways.

SUPERLOAD Restriction Manager:  Calculating possible route restrictions allows you to better determine your overall route selection.  Restriction Manager evaluates the application of cargo dimensions, bridge and tunnel configurations, limited access and route advisories.  In conjunction with Bentley’s other routing solutions, a project manager can build a complete picture of potential routes and the challenges his service provider will face in moving cargo to site.                                                                                                      

It should be noted that Bentley Systems also provides engineering and construction expertise in addition to their routing software.  From London’s underground rail to water treatment in China, Bentley delivers on the design, movement and construction analysis for projects worldwide. 

Going the Distance

As construction firms, Bechtel and Bentley Systems lend their experience to the planning and timely movement of material to complete various stages of a project.  Many engineering and construction firms provide similar services and there are a host of third-party providers which also handle the movement of project cargo.  Project cargo experience is a relative term.  Not all forwarders who claim to have that knowledge can handle the level of logistical expertise required. When it comes to finding the right provider, the cost may be the last category considered.  Not that pricing is unimportant but a firm’s financial stability, their level of insurance, and their experience with the movement of various types of cargo are a more important criteria. 

What types of projects have they handled in the past? What is their level of experience with the movement of out of gauge material?  These are questions for the logistics provider.