New turbine blade transporters for Vanguard
19 October 2023
Vanguard has significantly increased its capability with the addition of six new rotor blade transport systems (RBTS) to its specialized fleet.
TII Scheuerle in Germany has supplied the RBTS to the South African heavy transport and logistics specialist. Vanguard is using the new kit to transport more than 230 wind turbine blades, each one up to 83 metres long.
These are pretty much the longest blades you can get for onshore turbines. Carrying the longest ones gives an overall vehicle length of 95 metres. Distances up to 500 km are being covered, from the port of Ngqura, near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province, to multiple onshore wind farm sites.
Bryan Hodgkinson, Vanguard director, said his Cleveland-headquartered company is moving two blades a week. At that rate all the blades for the 78 wind turbines will be delivered in a year.
The RBTS design uses a trailing unit which means it can be used flexibly for components of other lengths and is easy to operate, the manufacturer said. It consists of a 2-axle jeep dolly with a free-turning device and a 4-axle trailing unit. The free-turning device can also be mounted directly on the back of the tractor unit.
Accommodating bumps and bends
The two metre lift range allows bumps and other obstacles in the road to be accommodated. Scheuerle said its RBTS can negotiate bends that would not be possible by a telescopic semi-trailer without having to remove crash barriers and other street furniture.
Loading the RBTS with a blade involves a lifting device to pick the wing root up from the ground. A quick coupling device is connected to the blade root to the root frame then to the free turning device via a root adaptor. At the other end there is a clamping device on the trailer unit to fix the tip of the rotor blade in position. It can be adapted to accommodate rotor blades from other manufacturers.
For economical empty return runs the RBTS can be shortened into a semi-trailer combination. It fits the European standard dimensions of 2.55 metres wide and less than four metres high. The empty tractor and trailer combination weighs no more than 40 tonnes.