Experienced project managers, despite hours of careful planning, allow for contingencies and include schedule flexibility to make a project successful. Such was the case early in 2007 when Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting was hired as a subcontractor to Mammoet Canada Western Limited to move an over-dimensional 209,000 pound reactor vessel from a major Houston, TX fabrication facility to the Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) Horizon Oil Sands Project near Fort MacKay, AB. With vessel dimensions at 79 feet long, 16 feet 5 inches wide and 16 feet 10 inches high, the piece was too dimensionally extreme for rail transportation and had to move over the road.
But with any good plan, changes are expected. In this case, there was a delay in the vessel's fabrication resulting in the postponement of vessel transportation. Although the customer had planned for Perkins Specialized to make a direct shipment of the fabrication to the jobsite prior to the onset of spring road restrictions in Montana and Alberta, which typically range from March 1 through May 31, that schedule had to change.
Instead, to minimize the effects of spring road restrictions, Perkins timed its mobilization and loading process at the fabricator's facility in mid-April so that by the time the load reached the Wyoming-Montana border on April 27th, Montana's road ban had been lifted, allowing Perkins to proceed to the US-Canada border. After crossing into Alberta, the customer transloaded the piece onto a configuration approved by provincial authorities for transport to the Fort MacKay jobsite during Alberta's graduated spring road restrictions.
To handle the approximately 2,350 mile circuitous highway transport of this vessel for the client in just 13 days, Perkins Specialized provided an engineered solution based on the use of one of its dual-lane highway transporters with a high girder bridge suspension system. A key aspect of Perkins' suspension system is its use of a pair of manufactured, integrated 32-wheel dollies providing a highly maneuverable and safe means of transportation. The dollies operate at respectable road speeds and yielded a mere operational height of 17 feet 4 inches for this load. The low overall height virtually eliminated utility assistance and shortened an already circuitous permitted route by allowing the load to pass under low overpasses and other hard overhead obstructions.
As a part of the pre-planning, it should be noted that Perkins representatives had already visited the fabrication facility in November 2006 to inspect egress options, space for transport equipment laydown, and to discuss assembly of its transporter using the shop's overhead cranes. In just two weeks the transport was accomplished safely and without incident.