LIEBHERR, THE GERMAN EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER, PARTNERED WITH WALLENIUS WILHELMSEN LOGISTICS (WWL) AND WALLENIUS WILHELMSEN LOGISTICS ABNORMAL LOAD SERVICES (WWL ALS) TO GET THEIR FLAGSHIP R9800 – ONE OF THE LARGEST MINING EXCAVATORS IN THE WORLD – FROM THE FACTORY IN COLMAR, FRANCE, TO ITS FINAL DESTINATION IN DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA. ANDY ADAMS DISCOVERS HOW THEY BROKE IT DOWN…
The Liebherr R9800 was developed as the optimal loading tool for large-scale mining operations, with an engine output of 4,000hp. In total the excavator weighs 850 tonnes; even when disassembled, components are up to 11 metres long and more than 4 metres high. Thirty per cent bigger than the next-sized Liebherr model, the R9800 consumes only 15% more fuel. Its 42 cubic-metre standard bucket capacity enables it to lift a density of 1.8 tonnes per cubic metre.
Everything about the Liebherr Group is enormous. With a turnover of around EUR 8.9 billion in 2013, it is the largest crane company in the world, manufacturing huge aircraft parts and massive mining equipment. Shipping the company’s gigantic equipment around the world can be tricky, especially when deadlines are tight. This particular machine had been sold to Kumba Iron Ore, which is a leading supplier of high-quality iron ore to the global steel industry. The excavator’s sheer size presented unique problems, but this was compounded by the cut-off point set for its arrival to the job site. Strict South African transport regulations had created a tight shipping window: it was very important for Liebherr to get the excavator to their customer in a safe and efficient manner.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
“Liebherr Mining Machines are high quality products that require specific care during the logistics processes,” says Alain May, General Manager of the Transport Department, Liebherr Mining Equipment, Colmar. “Any delays in delivery would affect re-assembly of the equipment and thus suspend production, creating costly downtime.” With a relationship that stretches across three decades and all over the world, Liebherr partnered with WWL and WWL ALS to get the equipment from Colmar to Durban. “Today, and certainly for the next few years, the global supply chain is the first ‘key-factor’ that the mining industry should address and improve,” says May. “Choosing the right service providers for a long-term partnership will help secure and improve our market-share going forward. Relying on the strength of WWL’s global network helps us deal with any supply chain issues, like this one, confidently.”
BY LAND, RIVER, SEA
The first issue addressed was the timetable. To get the cargo to South Africa ahead of the deadline, WWL and WWL ALS first worked closely to move the massive excavator overland from the French factory. The disassembled components, over 100 tonnes unit weight, were transported by road from Colmar to the river port in Strasbourg, France. The cargo was then loaded onto a river barge, which arrived in Zeebrugge port on time. From there, WWL officials had to fit the unusually large sections into their RO/RO vessel, M/V Tortugas. The height restriction on all WWL ships is 5.2 metres: the height of the tallest piece of the excavator was 4.4 metres. With its variable height, the MAFI trailer was able to fit the excavator and its components safely on board, and the Tortugas began its voyage to South Africa. A member of the WWL ALS team from Moerdijk, Netherlands was in attendance throughout all the loading and unloading.