From our earliest days, humans have been a study in ingenuity; think Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Roman Colosseum…all marvels, especially considering the technology available then versus now. When we consider more recent engineering feats, maybe the Hoover Dam, or the Golden Gate Bridge, or even the New York City skyline comes to mind.
For 40 years, the City’s Empire State Building stood as the tallest occupied building in the world. Even though its record has long since been surpassed (Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is nearly twice as tall!), our fascination with the iconic building remains. Did you know the Empire State Building was completed within a year and a half, from the point of excavation to finished construction? Did you know it’s composed of nearly 60,000 tons of steel? 200,000 cubic feet of limestone and granite? 10,000,000 bricks and 6,500 glass windows?
Now ask yourself, "How did it all get there?"
Transporting raw materials for construction demands ingenuity in itself. Since many skyscrapers are built within the framework of an established city, nearby buildings limit the space available for storage and construction—so it’s common for I-beams, for example, to be delivered to worksites at the exact time they’re needed for placement. Such heavy, long and awkward loads require mass coordination, secure rigging and the experience offered through dedicated truckload services.
Since oversized freight like steel beams can’t share space with other cargo, full truckload (FTL) services generally offer the safest and fastest means for transporting many construction and infrastructure loads. Think of other bulky items you’ve seen lumbering through our roadways: heavy equipment, like loaders and tractors; electric posts; timber; culverts; and more fragile supplies, like drywall and glass panels. All of these items need specialists to help pack, rig, and transport them to arrive safely and undamaged. Reinforced concrete culverts, for example, require dunnage to secure the round pipes and keep them from rolling off the truck, while large, fragile panes of glass are usually transported upright on the long edge for better weight distribution.
There’s probably no better example of human ingenuity and industriousness than what we’ve done with oil and gas; the entire industry has drastically changed the way we live. From the heat in our homes and tires on our cars, to the plastics in our laptops and fabrics we live in, our way of life is made possible by petroleum products. But how does it all get here? Well, it starts with oil field machinery, which ranges from enormous drilling rigs to well site accommodations. The set-up of operations is usually time-sensitive and can be dangerous. So this is a field where, once again, logistics professionals are necessary. Workers and truckers must know the ins and outs of the gear to ensure it is properly and safely handled before, during and after transport.
Alongside traditional energy sources, the green energy industry is growing rapidly. Have you ever driven past the Alta Wind Energy Center in California or Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas? These fields are awesome sights—not only for the sheer size and scope of the farms, but for the windmills and turbines themselves. What’s more, these jaw-dropping structures are in some pretty remote places. How did they get there?
If you’ve ever seen a wind turbine traveling down the highway, you can imagine the scale of the challenge. According to Truckinginfo.com, “seven rigs are usually needed to deliver each commercial-size turbine, which includes three tower sections; a nacelle containing a turbine's generator, gear box and electrical apparatus; and three long blades.” Often this requires custom tractor-trailer rigs, and it always requires specially trained drivers and handlers.
Consider the transport of a single turbine blade, which can exceed 200 feet in length (that’s two-thirds the length of a football field!). Planning the drive is more complicated than gassing up and turning on the GPS; a normally ten-hour drive may take four days. Routes must be checked for sharp turns, roadblocks, and accommodating fueling stations. And in addition to highly trained truck drivers, advance drivers and chase vehicles must be arranged. Now, multiply that times three blades and four more major turbine parts across all wind farms…the magnitude is mind-boggling.
Solar parks also involve complex logistics within the renewable energy industry, and again, the size and scale of these developments is pretty amazing. Commercial solar panels are oversized and delicate; special care must be taken during storage, shipping and handling. And shipping timeframes are usually tight, since the panels have to be custom-installed by specialists. The communication and coordination throughout the supply chain is a massive undertaking. Third party logistics companies, like FreightCenter, can provide peace of mind when arranging the complicated delivery of such expensive and fragile cargo.
Perhaps the perfect marriage of traditional and modern industries lies with technology and machinery. CNC machines use computers to control manufacturing tools, like lathes, mills, routers and grinders, and though massive in size, they’re delicate, too. Moving one is no small task.
First, specialized equipment and handlers are required, depending on the machine being moved. This may include lowboys and cranes, compact forklifts, and flat and covered transport; then, to prevent damage during shipment, moving parts and electrical components must be protected and stabilized—unfortunately, a too-loose strap or a too-tight buckle can make all the difference in whether or not an expensive, fragile piece of machinery makes the trip in tact. In most cases, air ride and tarped trailers are necessary, sometimes even Conestogas. Finally, while both loading and offloading must be considered, so should CNC machine positioning, assembly, and installation after it reaches the final destination. The complexity of the move may only be surpassed by the machine itself.
There’s nothing simple about the comforts and conveniences of our modern lifestyle. From the financiers, designers and managers, to the manufacturers, builders and truckers, we have arrived—and we move forward—by the minds and might of many.