Advances and developments in heavy lift transportation are allowing shipyards to rethink how, and where, they build and maintain vessels.
Utilizing this technology can help a yard expand its order book and improve its bottom line. The use of Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs) in shipyards enables a facility to expand its operations in numerous ways, including new building, maintenance and repair or storage. These projects can range from straightforward to complex transport engineering assignments. There are baseline best practices to employ whenever you are utilizing SPMTs to help ensure a successful, safe and cost-efficient operation. The most important advice, which is often neglected, is to never underestimate the importance of communication. Identify the key players, including your insurance broker and underwriter, early and allow them to be part of the planning and engineering review to mitigate risk and optimize safety.
Here at Allianz Global
Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) the SPMT that we most often work with
was developed by Mammoet in conjunction with Scheuerle in 1983. They have revolutionized industrial transportation with the ability to transport heavy loads with a high degree of maneuverability within a small footprint. They can add significant modular construction capability to shipyard operations, allowing larger vessels to be maneuvered and expanding utilization of staging areas in a yard.
SPMT Best Practices
An excellent first step when exploring the potential use of SPMTs is to review the European Association of Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes (ESTA) Best Practice Guide for Self-Propelled Modular Transporters
. This guide presents the required steps to help plan, engineer, train for and execute a successful transport.
In our loss control roll at AGCS, we have witnessed the importance of the design phase. It is critical that all aspects of a load be evaluated in the design phase in order to help identify any potential problems before operations begin, or contracts are signed. The utilization of external engineering expertise, with SPMT experience, can be extremely beneficial to spot potential problems.
Even if you are utilizing a third-party SPMT provider, the client is responsible for the following:
- Gross weight of the load
- Location of the center of gravity
- Dimensions of the load
- Allowable point loading forces
- Location of support points
- Location of lashing and securing points
It is import to remember that any order changes that affect these criteria need to be evaluated from the point of the SPMT movement before they can be agreed to or implemented. If the final dimensions are changed, then an updated swept-path analysis of the route will need to be performed.
Engineering concerns that arise during the later stage of a project are typically due to insufficient initial engineering that have included allowable point loading forces both on the hull girder as well as on existing piers and wharfs. A key component of planning is to fully determine the material conditions of infrastructure before a project is undertaken. If building in a former laydown area, or moving an SPMT over a pier or apron, it is critical that these areas have their permissible point loading evaluated. Fully evaluating the route that a SPMT will transverse and knowing the allowable ground / surface bearing pressures is one of the most important components of a project.
Training is also a key component of a successful transport. Even if you will be utilizing an outside contractor to conduct the movement, it is still important that your workforce receive safety instructions in relation to working with an SPMT if they will be involved with the move. If you are employing a third party, review their training and maintenance records well in advance of the move.
Most insurers will request that a risk assessment (RA) be carried out before a transport is performed. An RA should address the risks associated with at least the following:
• All persons directly involved with the transport
• All persons that will or may be present in close proximity to the transport
• The load, the transporter and all objects/items that are in close proximity to the transport
• The (work) environment through which the transport will travel/in which the transport will take place
Method statements that lay out the engineering particulars of transports address key points, including the SPMT transporter configuration and suspension set-up. According to the ESTA SPMT Best Practice Guide, a comprehensive method statement should include at a minimum:
- How the transporter(s) will be (de)mobilized
- Route the transport will travel
- How the load will be loaded on/unloaded from the transporter
- Which transporter configuration and suspension set-up will be used
- Who will be responsible for the transport and how the different tasks related to the transport will be divided
- Which Health, Safety and Environmental procedures will apply
- Any situation-specific measures required for the transport to be executed safely
Executing the Plan
After all the planning and engineering is completed and the method statement generated and reviewed, the actual transport takes place. As was true in the planning stage, communication among all parties during the execution phase is critical to the project’s success.
A toolbox talk should be held prior to conducting the transport. At this time, all parties who will be present for the move should be in attendance, and introductions should take place. Nothing new should be addressed here – the parties present are here to ensure that the transport takes place in accordance with the previously agreed upon engineering and method statement. If a major change is required that was not addressed in an agreed upon contingency plan, then the transport should not take place.
Weather conditions can be critical to any operation with a marine component. In the event of a vessel hauling or launching, tide and current conditions must be within the go/no go criteria previously agreed upon.
Final checks should be conducted by all concerned parties. If warranty surveyors are present, they need to ensure that all recommendations have been complied with before executing the move.
The use of SPMTs can greatly assist a shipyard in generating new business or expanding upon work. This can range from hauling large yachts to building new barges. SPMTs can be integrated to work with existing dry docks, yard cranes and travel lifts to provide new or increased revenue streams. A well-organized, engineering-supported project built upon the framework of strong communication is your best voyage plan to help ensure a successful heavy lift project.
Captain Andrew Kinsey, Senior Marine Risk Consultant, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty