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.”

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The WWL operations teams in Europe and the US worked together to develop a custom-made handling proposal to the customer. The solution settled on 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 suggested convinced Hansa Meyer and Siemens that WWL was up to the job. 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.

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Hüter, who has used WWL’s services for some thirty years, agreed that RoRo 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.

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“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 RoRo liner service in the past and we know it to be secure, reliable and efficient.”

The vessel type able to accommodate cargo of this size and weight is the Mark V vessel.

“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.”