“This handling method minimises the number of switches in the loading and unloading process, significantly reducing the risk of damage.” 

When it comes to cargo, freight forwarders have seen it all. But when the Austrian branch of German engineering and electronics conglomerate Siemens needed to ship two gigantic transformers from Zeebrugge, Belgium, to New York, US, something special needed to be done.

The Siemens transformers weighed in at 263 and 225 tonnes, were around nine and 13 metres long respectively, and arrived to Zeebrugge by barge from the Siemens factory in Austria. It was clear that a customised solution was needed to get these massive items on board the vessel to North America. Lifting units of these sizes high into the air and placing them on board a vessel would be dangerous and put the multi-million dollar cargo at risk. Siemens’ freight forwarder, Hansa Meyer Global Transport GmbH, knew just where to turn.

“We were confident that WWL had the necessary expertise to look after this cargo,” says Wolfgang Hüter, Senior Manager Projects & Services, Hansa Meyer. “It was not a difficult decision to make.”

Abu Nasser was the WWL account manager responsible for the shipment. He explains that he contacted the WWL Operations teams in Europe and the US with a request for a custom-made handling proposal. The solution they settled on involved lifting the transformers off the barge and placing them directly on blocks and beams, before rolling them onto the vessel using a jack-up trailer.

“The method we suggested convinced Hansa Meyer and Siemens that we were up to the job,” says Nasser. “By placing the transformers on blocks and beams and rolling them onto the vessel, we could eliminate the need for lifting and ensure safe, efficient handling.

Hüter, who has used WWL’s services for some thirty years, agreed that Ro-Ro was the best solution for unique heavy cargo of this kind.

“This handling method minimises the number of switches in the loading and unloading process, thereby significantly reducing the risk of damage to the cargo. Once the transformer is placed on the blocks and beams, it is secured there – with no need to unload it and secure it again on board the vessel.”

Aside from the need for specialist cargo-handling expertise, the sheer size and weight of the Siemens transformers also played a part in the customer’s choice of shipping supplier.

“Once you’re dealing with weights of 260 tonnes, you don’t have too many options,” says Hüter. “This is quite simply a weight that WWL’s competitors are unable to handle. Our options were either to go with WWL or to charter a vessel.”

“We were very happy for Hansa Meyer to choose WWL for this shipment,” says Arnold Wingert, Logistics Manager, Siemens AG Austria. “We have used their Ro-Ro liner service in the past and we know it to be secure, reliable and efficient.”

The only vessel type able to accommodate cargo of this size and weight is the Mark V vessel. Although WWL’s Mark V liner service covers Europe and the US East coast, it does not typically call in New York.

“The MV Salome normally sails from Zeebrugge to Baltimore,” says Nasser. “However, for this particular shipment, we added an extra port call in New York.”

“We know WWL offers weekly sailings, that are always reliable,” says Hüter. “We know they have the equipment and expertise we require. In short, we know how WWL works and it’s perfect.”

About the transformers

In August, WWL shipped two Siemens transformers, one 9.90 x 3.96 x 4.60 m, weighing 263 tonnes, and the other 12.95 x 3.96 x 4.60 m, with a weight of 225 tonnes, from Zeebrugge to New York. The transformers were lifted off a barge and placed onto blocks and beams before being rolled on board using a jack-up trailer. The cargo was lashed and secured with heavy-duty lashings. The 263-tonne transformer was mounted on 24 blocks and 12 cross beams, while the 225-tonne unit required 18 blocks and 10 beams.


Siemens AG is a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, operating in the fields of industry, energy and healthcare, as well as providing infrastructure solutions, primarily for cities and metropolitan areas. For over 165 years, Siemens has stood for technological excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality. The company is one of the world’s largest providers of environmental technologies. Around 43 per cent of its total revenue stems from green products and solutions. In fiscal 2013, which ended on September 30, 2013, revenue from continuing operations totaled EUR 74.4 billion and income from continuing operations EUR 4.2 billion. At the end of September 2013, Siemens had around 362,000 employees worldwide on the basis of continuing operations.