07 August 2020

Project Logistics

Humungous challenges

Project cargo has been witnessing a wave of growth on the back of adoption of latest technologies, companies’ forthright approach towards managing challenging tasks, and the country’s fast paced economic growth. Yes, it’s great news for all involved in moving over dimensional cargo, but they need to be equally cautious for safe and secure movement of cargo in transit. Prerna Sharma brings you insights from into the scope and expanse of project cargo logistics in India and how best-in-class companies are dealing with extremities exceptionally well…

A dense 4.7 million km of road network, 64,600 km of rail network and ports on a coastline of 7,517 km, these are the numbers responsible for moving the wheels of fortunes. All these aspects have opened up tremendous opportunities for the logistics industry in India. Come with it a huge responsibility of moving heavy industrial equipment, what we call as oversized cargo. What project cargo is all about essentially? Project cargo is the transportation, and installation of heavy plant, machinery and equipment which cannot be dismantled into smaller parts for ease of transport, and weigh in the range of one tonne to over 1,000 tonnes and too large to fit into normal containers or onto conventional transporters. Such heavy items could include wind turbine, refinery equipment, power components, and defence related equipment, etc. It could even be fragile and dangerous goods that need specialized handling.




The market for heavy and oversized cargo is fast expanding on account of government’s special thrust on developing infrastructure. Project cargo movement is increasing in industries like power, oil & gas, mining, etc. Government’s decision to attain self-sufficiency in power generation has resulted in the sanction of a slew of power plants to be set up across the country, which is generating plenty demand for project logistics. Project cargo requires specific care, expertise and meticulous attention to details. Many companies are offering ODC transport facility, who are specialised in handling the complexities of ODC. The ODC transport industry is growing, yet fragmented, with players varying from small to big. The magnitude of goods carried demands precise coordination between the manufacturers and transporters, and the client company.

Size, safety of the goods, environmental laws, special vehicle requirements, and people transporting the goods, all such aspects require critical attention from the transporter as the associated risks are extremely high. “There is heavy demand for construction equipment. Sectors such as roads, airports, power, and seaports, have become very attractive for both domestic and foreign investors,” said Captain Sandeep Anand, CEO, Allcargo, during an event.

Of late, India’s breakbulk and project cargo imports have exceeded exports. The country’s economy continued to expand while the 2008 financial meltdown had an adverse impact on most of the global economies. East Asia, especially China, accounts for the majority of India’s breakbulk inbound traffic, followed by Western Europe, Russia, and the United States.

Most Indian ports have facilities to handle multipurpose vessels, but breakbulk and project cargo is concentrated at Mumbai, Kandla, and Mundra on the west coast and Chennai and Visakhapatnam on the east coast. Breakbulk carriers serving India include companies such as Rickmers-Linie, Conti Lines, Chipolbrok, BBC Chartering, and Hansa Heavy Lift. Roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) carriers such as Hoegh Autoliners also call at the ports of Mumbai, Pipavav, Mundra, and Chennai.




Managing cargo of such magnitude is no mean feat. The loading and unloading of cargo requires expert supervision, owing to a greater risk of damage or accidents. Many challenges need to be addressed while moving ODC, especially through inland waterways like construction of jetties, barge design and construction, draft issues, etc. Poor infrastructure, lack of technology adoption, advanced equipment availability as well as lack of new age trucks and container systems pose challenges to moving ODC. Industry experts underline that ODC requires specialised equipment and detailed project planning to ensure effective execution.

There are also load per axle limits. However, a load that exceeds the per-axle limits, but not the overall weight limits, is considered overweight. Examples of oversize/overweight loads include construction machines (cranes, front loaders, backhoes, etc.), pre-built homes, containers, construction elements (bridge beams, generators, windmill propellers, rocket stages, industrial equipment).The legal dimensions and weights vary between countries and regions within a country. A vehicle which exceeds the legal dimensions usually requires a special permit which requires extra fees to be paid in order for the oversize/overweight vehicle to legally travel on the roadways. The permit usually specifies a route the load must follow as well as the dates and times during which the load may travel.




DB Schenker highlights that the key factor of the transport of engineering units is the price, the quality, and the speed of transport. For example, if the client waits for a machine or a part of a line and therefore manufacture in the factory is stopped, then there is chosen a more expensive but more quick way of transport. For example Schenker transported a turbo generator from Pilsen to Australia by the world biggest plane Antonov An-225 Mrija, instead over the sea. “This load would travel over the sea for six weeks, but the client could not wait so long and therefore we have realised this order by air,” says Pavel Trnka, Manager of Oversized Transports, DB Schenker. With layover in Turkmenistan, India, and Indonesia, the company delivered this turbo generator to Australian Perth in six days.




Each oversized transport has its own specifics and is evaluated individually under client needs, elaborates Pavel. Primarily it is the need to secure all necessary permissions, for example from the Ministry of Transport or others local institutions. “The road route is need to plan carefully - one-hundred-and- forty-tonne load cannot turn and drive by another way in the case of problems,” says Pavel Trnka. In the case of road transport, it is necessary consider not only dimensions of the cargo, but for example a width of road, load bearing capacity of bridges on the route and other things. On the railway, it is most limiting the width of railway tunnels. Due to them, the railway cargo cannot be substantially wider than three metres. In the case of shipping, one needs to consider the navigability of weirs and surface level of water.“I recommend to our customers to verify dimensions or weight of cargo carefully, the weight of package is been often forgotten,” advises Pavel Trnka how to avoid complications during the preparation stage. He appeals also on the timely communication and ordering of the project, because the special transports need time.



Two separate regulatory changes are set to impact on logistics business for transport providers and their customers in India.The first – a change to the maximum length of road trailers – is designed to improve safety on the country’s roads, while the second – the introduction of a nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) – has the potential to reshape the whole supply chain business, states Pankaj Dogra, MD, WWL India.

Prompted by a high number of accidents, April 2017 will see the maximum permitted length of road trailers fall from 22 metres to 18.75 metres. Until now, transporters have benefitted from being able to achieve greater load capacity from longer vehicles. In addition to improving road safety, the new law is expected to result in efficiencies for shippers of cars and agricultural equipment in terms of improved mileage and lower incidental costs. However, faced with a reduction in carrying capacity per trailer, truck operators have already begun adding a premium of 15-20 per cent to the cost of road freight.




Moving big, wide, and heavy cargo has never been an easy task; the transportation of such cargo requires humongous amount of planning and expertise. Billions of dollars of project-critical equipment are shipped around the world annually. High levels of risk are associated with these shipments due to the nature of the cargo, transport logistics, and tight timeframes. Whether you are building a manufacturing plant, mining or drilling the earth, you will need to procure logistics transportation service to manage your cargo movement. With the rapid growth in infrastructure development in India, there is huge opportunity for those involved in project cargo. Time has come for the specialized logistics service providers to get out of their comfort zone and offer their prospective customers the much-needed services they were looking for to gain maximum growth pastures.




(ACCI), recently executed the multimodal transportation of India’s heaviest TG Stator weighing 462 MT for Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, Haridwar. The movement was from Kandla Port to NTPC’s 800 MW Gadarwara Project site in MP. Movement of a 462 MT TG Stator on Girder Bridge happened for the first time in India and loading of the cargo was allowed by BHEL only after physical load test of Girder Bridge for 500 MT. This multimodal transportation faced many challenges, both in marine and road movement, mainly because of non-availability of RoRo facilities at Kandla Port for barging activity and road movement of the lengthy over 10-m trailer with width of 6.1 m when the TG Stator was put onto Girder Bridge at Kasheli. ACCI created RoRo facility within Kandla Port and safely loaded the package by RoRo method on the company-owned barge Sanskriti on October 1, 2016 and moved the loaded barge to Kasheli Jetty (outside Mumbai). With meticulous pre-planning, in-house expertise and taking timely decision in resolving local issues, the company was able to tackle all the hurdles enroute and continued the difficult journey to the destination without interruptions.

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