USA: Attention has been drawn to the increasing problem of the large power transformer (LPT) transport in the U.S. The power grid in the U.S., which is valued at $ 1 trillion, consists of 360,000 miles of transmission lines which connect over 6,000 power plants.
The entire system relies on a small number of LPTs, which are heavily-customised and need to be ordered in.
The average estimated costs of an LPT ranged from $ 2 to $ 7.5 million in 2010, without transportation and installation costs which represent approximately one third of an LPTs’ total cost, reports Forbes.
Transportation of an LPT is extremely complicated and expensive, warns Forbes. LPTs weigh over 400 tons and it is necessary to use a Schnabel car, a specialised railroad freight used to transport extremely tall and heavy loads via railways.
A transformer is suspended with lifting arms between two ends of the car. The lifting arms are connected to an assembly of pivots and frames that distribute the weight of the transformer and the lifting arm over a large number of wheels.
The problem is that there are only about 30 Schnabel cars in North America and they travel only about 10 miles per hour at top speed.
However, road logistics can be even more complicated as the road transport of an LPT requires obtaining special permits and routes from the department of transportation of each state on the route. Bridges need to be checked, traffic lights removed and replaced, etc.