Anatomy of Complex Logistics for Italy-Mexico-US Job

Former director and board member for Fagioli Riccardo Tippmann details one of his most challenging transports

By Breakbulk Veteran Riccardo Tippmann

Scope of work was very complex, probably one of the most challenging “door-to-door” transports ever performed on a long itinerary combining many different segments, interfacing issues and techniques.

Our job consisted in the complete transport of two steam generators, each weighing 710 tonnes and measuring 22,6 metres long with a diameter of 7,30 metres from the manufacturing plant in Milan, Italy, all the way to the receiving Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, located near Phoenix, Arizona.

I signed the contract with the client, Arizona Public Service, in 1998. At that time the scheduled execution and delivery date, early 2003, appeared far away, but more than four years were just enough to setup and manage full and complete engineering, planning, preparation and execution of all necessary civil, road, barge and nautical work, the permitting procedures, including a very consistent amount of civil construction and improvement activities on roads and transhipment facilities in Italy, Mexico and Arizona.

Pre-carriage in Italy

To allow a safe journey to the nearest river facility, considering that a transport of the fully assembled steam generators was not possible because of weight and measures, we designed and constructed a special convoy and carrying frame to transport the main part of each steam generator to the inland river port of Cremona. Still, the resulting road convoy was more than 100 metres long with an overall weight exceeding 1000 tonnes and a total height of more than 9 metres.

Many civil road improvements and bypasses were necessary to be designed and prepared on the 45-km itinerary to finally obtain special permits from the authorities. From the inland port the transport took place by barge to the industrial port of Marghera in the northern Adriatic, where a special facility was chosen to finally assemble the main parts into two finished steam generators.

The ocean shipment

After several itinerary surveys in the U.S., it became clear that due to several impediments and limitations from any U.S. port, the unique port-of-entry to allow a the transport to Arizona would have to be a Mexican port on the Pacific side to accommodate a safe mooring of an ocean vessel with considerable draft. Finally we decided on Guaymas in Baja California, the nearest to Puerto Penasco in Sonoyta State, a small tourist port from where the route to Arizona was feasible.

In consideration of the committed pre-advice to match the agreed delivery schedule, we chartered well in advance a special self-geared heavy-lift vessel to transport the two items from Italy through the Panama Canal to Guaymas. The timing of the final assembly of the steam generators in Marghera lasted several months; it was therefore imperative to plan the shipping date very carefully in perfect combination with cargo readiness.

The receiving port

Matching the arrival of the ocean vessel in Guaymas, we prepared and disposed a suitable ro/ro barge on which the generators were transshipped and accommodated on shorter SPMT platforms.

Many months before arrival a special temporary offloading dock was also designed and constructed in Puerto Penasco. Here the barge was moved and grounded to allow beach landing and safe rolling off for further preparation of the road convoys.

The transport through Mexico and Arizona

This part resulted in one of the most complex logistics ever planned. A lot of different interfacing with multiple participants was required. It took us around four years of intensive work with the client, to prepare, obtain permits, coordinate and manage all necessary civil road improvements and construction for a safe transit of two convoys of more than 1000 tonnes each over a 300-km itinerary.

More than 40 different direct interfacing entities were part of the process both in Mexico and the U.S., from private property owners to utilities and road authorities, National Park Organisations (transit through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument), environmental officers, Corps of Engineers, city and border authorities, customs officers, railway representatives and many more.

Several bypasses and road segments were constructed along with considerable improvement excavation work to allow safe under passage of the very high convoys under Interstate crossings.

Special logistics like mobile accommodation for the crew of about 30 people was necessary due to shift work and no facilities available on the itinerary, a trip of about 20 days through desert areas.

Continuous formal communication with Mexican authorities was also a fundamental matter in consideration of the required transit of such delicate and strategic cargo through the country along the only technically possible route. Their support was vital.

Finally …

After a trip lasting around 90 days, the two steam generators were delivered safely on site at the power plant about 10 days ahead of schedule, thanks to more than four years of planning.

It was a great teamwork among all participants, entities, all utilities and stakeholders. The client was particularly satisfied so that after some time, we signed an additional contract for another four replacement steam generators to the same plant on same itinerary.

A legacy and cooperation lasting more than 10 years in total, a fantastic experience!
About the author

Riccardo is an Austrian citizen living in Milan, Italy, with more than 40 years in the heavy transport, heavy lifting and project forwarding industry. He joined the Fagioli Group in 1985 as business development manager and over 33 years with the firm he set up and managed several group companies in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Poland, UK, UAE, Iran, India, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and others. He served as executive director and member of the board at Fagioli Corporate global HQ from 2008 to 2018. Riccardo now operates as an independent professional consultant at his own firm RTC.

Riccardo can be reached at [email protected].
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