Transformer engineering extends beyond the factory walls

Transporting 106 tons of transformers across 4000 kilometers

Designing and building transformers entails a significant amount of engineering and planning with detailed schedules and check points. Once manufactured, we need to get the transformer to the site. A recent project was a good reminder of how complicated this can be and why it is important to have dedicated logistics people to plan the transportation and hauling of power transformers.

The project included development of seven transformers for a large utility company in Canada. The transformers weighed a total of 106 tons. To complicate things further, the dam where they were to be delivered was 150 kilometers from the nearest rail point. The journey began at ABB’s power transformer factory in Varennes, Quebec.

Weather is critical factor when it comes to transport management. Travel along Highway 23 in Canada can be unpredictable. It’s not unusual to be hit by a blizzard with six inches of snow at the dam while it is raining at the factory in Varennes. Wet and slippery snow on a winding road is a tricky combination, especially when you’re hauling large, heavy transformers.

Work by the ABB logistics team started 34 months prior to the first transformer leaving the factory. The transport plan included railroads, heavy haulers and highway carriers.

Two railway providers were used followed by a heavy hauler to get the unit to the site. A detailed study was carried out to negotiate eight bridges and 11 culverts along the route from the factory to the site.

The study, which took roughly two months to complete also called for retrofitting one of the bridges and this was completed shortly before the first transformer left the factory.  A 12 axle 170 ton dual lane mover was used for this portion of the journey.

Thanks to the detailed planning and execution, the units arrived safely at site, ready for installation and commissioning!

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About the author

Scott Curley

I lead the Demand Side Operations for ABB's power transformer business in North America, including strategic partnerships, marketing, engineering, project management and transportation of Power transformers. I've worked at ABB for over 20 years and have lived in the USA, UK and Australia.
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