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Sometimes Moving Massive Components Requires a Velvet Touch

How do you move a 175,000 lbs (79,400 kg) industrial kiln and two of its 15,000 lbs (6,750 kg) combustion chambers from their custom manufacturer in Germany to their final destination in Akron, Ohio? You hire the right logistics team.

A Schenker customer for over 20 years, Rockwell Automation, Inc. is a global provider of industrial automation solutions. Rockwell employs over 22,000 people and serves customers in more than 80 countries worldwide. Rockwell’s solutions include engineered systems that range from custom-designed, bundled components to large, turnkey system integration projects.

Rockwell Automation had designed a custom manufacturing plant for their customer Vadxx Energy Ltd. Vadxx Energy is a cutting edge technology company developing a commercial scale waste to energy plant in Akron, OH. When completed, the plant will be capable of converting 60 tons/day of waste plastic to fuel.  Rockwell Automation sourced the rotary kiln, which is a key piece of equipment for the plant, out of Germany.

The massive industrial kiln component is over 80 feet (24.4m) long and 12 feet (3.66m) high and wide. It had to be trucked with special permits and an escort from its birthplace in Wegbeg, Germany to a packer in Duisberg who shrink-wrapped it (over two days).

From there, it was put on a barge to Antwerp, Belgium’s ocean port. Despite its size, the kiln is delicate and Rockwell insisted it be handled as little as possible. Special connectors and ropes were installed to allow it to remain horizontal as it was lifted from one conveyance to another. Just taking the $1-million plus (USD) kiln off the truck and barge took two cranes and steady hands at the controls.

Because we were asked to handle the kiln as little as possible, we had to find the shortest direct transit route. Shipping it by ocean to a port on the U.S. East Coast would mean trucking it through several states requiring special permits and escorts for the oversize load.

“We chose an all water direct service, shipping from Antwerp to the port in Cleveland, Ohio, with Spliethoff’s Cleveland Europe Express,” says Lars Traner, Branch Manager from Schenker’s Cleveland office, who pulled this shipment together. “This service ships direct through the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes to the Cleveland port. From there, it was taken by truck to the end customer’s door in Akron.”

“Not only did Schenker ship the kiln and combustion chambers with as little handling as possible, they saved money and time by going all water direct to Cleveland from Antwerp,” adds Tom Mauerer, Manager, International Transportation, Rockwell Automation. “It would have been a costly move over land if they had to ship to an East Coast port and truck the components to Akron from there. It was a Herculean effort handled with a lot of finesse.”

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