Wind industry work requires experience in many disciplines, especially logistics planning. Bigge Crane & Rigging’s Texas branch was contracted to perform a large-scale wind project involving the transport of 95 wind turbine nacelles to a wind farm in Kingfisher County, OK. Nacelles – the large structures at the top of a wind turbine tower – house key components including the rotor shaft, gearbox and generator. The first lot of nacelles was set to be delivered to the wind farm starting in August 2017.

The plan called for six to eight deliveries per week to the specified pad sites. After careful evaluation and considerations of routes, the project plan switched from transporting the components over the road to transporting them by railcars to Enid, OK. The nacelles had arrived via steamship to the Port of Houston from the Nordex manufacturing facilities in Spain and Korea.

Logistics challenge

As a result of the re-planning, the job involved the provision of three 8-line dual-lane hydraulic transporters equipped with hydraulic goosenecks, a 500-ton four-post hydraulic gantry and two 8-line THP transporters towed by prime movers.

The Bigge team transported the components 30 miles from the distribution center to the lay down facility onsite. The team was able to transport three pieces at a time with special assistance from a bucket truck and operator, state and local police and civil escorts. Each transport took approximately three hours.

Upon arrival at the wind farm, the Bigge team positioned each transporter under an awaiting Enerpac 500-ton hydraulic gantry. This prepared for the transloading of each nacelle from the over-the-road transporter to the Goldhofer THP trailer and onto the prime movers.

This specific chain of transloads utilized the hydraulics of the gantry since each nacelle weighed approximately 250,000 pounds and needed to be lifted a few feet in the air in order to be placed on the THP transporters.

Once each nacelle was loaded and secured to the THP transporter, Bigge convoyed up to four miles from the lay down facility. Using carefully considered back roads, the nacelles were delivered and offloaded at the designated turbine pad sites. During the erection of each wind turbine, each nacelle was lifted 200 feet in the air for final assembly and operation.

“Completing heavy transport jobs like these require very careful logistics, management, and flexibility,” according to Bigge. “In this particular case, the bureaucratic process involved in obtaining proper road permits in Texas and Oklahoma proved challenging since the deadlines for the jobs were tight. Overall, the Bigge team pulled through and the project was a total success.”