Even disassembled, Caterpillar Tunneling’s products are project cargo
FROM THE OCTOBER 2012 MM&D PRINT EDITION
Caterpillar Tunneling Canada Corporation is sending five over-dimensional loads and sixteen ocean containers to a customer in Sydney, Australia.
While that may seem like a fairly large order, it’s not. It’s only one piece of equipment: a tunnel-boring machine (TBM).
Caterpillar Tunneling (known as Lovat until 2008 when Caterpillar purchased it) makes the ground-devouring machines used to dig through the earth to create underground passages for sewers, utility lines and twin-track railways.
TBMs from Caterpillar Tunneling are in use across Europe and the UK, the US (one is boring under New York’s Hudson River), Canada (they’re currently being used to expand Toronto’s subway and next month one will be shipped to Vancouver) and in other locations around the world. They’re also being shipped into new markets such as Costa Rica and Turkey (which is taking delivery of two TBMs later this year and two more in 2013).
According to Caterpillar Tunneling’s logistics manager, Aldo Jakasa, a typical TBM is about 6m (20ft) in diameter, but they do get larger.
Designed for dismantling
“One machine can be anywhere from five loads to 40 loads depending on the size. Typically, with a machine that’s greater than nine metres in diameter, you can be north of 30 or 40 loads.”
Readying a TBM for shipment isn’t easy. It actually starts while the machine is still in the design stage, says Jakasa.
“I will typically get shipping drawings designed by our engineering department and I will make comments on them before the machine is built, noting if we can ship like that, or if dimensions have to be changed, or if shipping methods have to be changed prior to the build.
“That’s normally done on my own, unless it’s something of a size we have not really built before—something new to us—then I have to go out and source with local carriers and freight forwarders.”
Besides calculating dimensions and shipping methods (it tries to ensure individual loads don’t weigh more than 90 tonnes), Caterpillar Tunneling works with the client to determine a shipping order, says says supply chain manager Avery Schick.
“It’s a process we go through each time we ship a machine. The project managers who work with the customer lay out the shipping sequence specifically based on the limitations of the site or the specific sequence of events. It can vary from a site where there is all kinds of space for them to build the whole machine, to the other extreme where we have a very small confined location in a very populated city area where you can only deliver one load at a time, and each load sequence has to be exact, with the right one showing up at the site to be unloaded and dropped down into the assembly shaft where the machine will begin to mine from.”
Other factors include transportation challenges (TBMs destined for Costa Rica have to travel over jungle roads) plus the availability of the cranes to handle the pieces and the crews to reassemble them.
It is the shipping sequence that determines just how the TBMs are disassembled and packed.
“If we know we need to start packing at the back of the machine, we’ll do that. Or it might be the client wants the front of the machine first, so we’ll start from the front. Sometimes they’ll have different launch modes. They might start off in a short launch mode with only part of the machine, so they’ll tell us what they need first. That gets communicated all the way down to the floor that that’s how we are to pack and ship,” explains Jakasa.