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The Challenges of Abnormal Load Transport

In the dynamic landscape of our economy, one constant remains: the essential need for the transportation of goods. Abnormal load transport plays a pivotal role across various industries in the UK and Europe. Yet, alongside this necessity come challenges. In today's rapidly evolving world, the transportation of abnormal loads faces increasing obstacles, making it a true art to deliver them cost-effectively and punctually.

In this article, we'll shed light on these challenges and provide insights on how to navigate them effectively.

What is an abnormal load?

In the UK according to GOV.UK an abnormal load is a vehicle that is carrying any of the following:

  • A load that weighs more than 44,000kg
  • An axle load of more than 10,000kg for a single non-driving axle (or 11,500kg for a single driving axle)
  • A width of more than 2.9 metres
  • A rigid length of more than 18.65 metres

What are the challenges?

1. Legal requirements

    You must notify local authorities at least two working days before transporting an abnormal load. This notification is essential due to the extensive strategic planning required for such moves. Planning may involve road closures, removing telephone wires, obtaining necessary permits, and coordinating with bridge owners. For instance, under the Electricity (Overhead Lines) Regulations 1970, the minimum height for overhead electric lines over roads is 19 feet and it is advised to consult the relevant electricity company before moving high loads due to the potential of wires having to be removed. Proper planning ensures the safe and efficient transportation of abnormal loads.

    2. Route planning

    When planning a route thorough planning is a must and there are many details to take into account. For example, several potential hazards must be considered to ensure the safety of both the load and the surroundings. These include road weight restrictions, height limitations when passing under bridges or telephone wires, and the challenges posed by tight corners or narrow roads. Identifying and addressing these risks is crucial to avoid accidents and ensure a smooth journey.

    However, before the route planning begins, the type of load must be assessed by measuring its shape, size, and weight. This helps in selecting a suitable truck and trailer for the job, as well as knowing which roads it can safely drive on. With these details in hand, route planning can kick off. Using the accurate measurements, you can plan a route that avoids potential obstacles like low bridges, narrow streets, or parked cars, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free journey. When the route has been properly planned, the correct authorities can then be contacted.

    3. Correct loading and transport of the load 

    Securing an abnormal load is perhaps the most critical aspect of its transportation. If the cargo is not properly secured, it can lead to disastrous consequences and jeopardise road safety, which no one wants. To avoid such catastrophes, it is imperative to secure the load correctly.

    This involves considering the load's weight, shape, height, and centre of gravity. For instance, a top-heavy load, if not loaded correctly, could topple over and cause significant harm. Skilled personnel with expertise in load securement are essential for the safe loading and transportation of abnormal loads. Additionally, regular equipment inspections are crucial to identify and address potential issues. Finally, emphasising safety protocols throughout the transportation process is vital to prevent accidents and protect both the public and the valuable cargo.

    4. Cost

    Transporting large loads is a formidable challenge for logistics companies, with numerous factors driving up costs: permits, varying regulations, and investments in specialised equipment, to name a few. These expenses can add up quickly, so companies must be smart and vigilant to cut costs without sacrificing safety or quality.

    To stay ahead, logistics firms need to embrace cost-efficient practices. This includes optimising routes to shorten distances, slashing fuel costs, and reducing the need for extra permits. Embracing new technology, such as electric vehicles, is also becoming a game-changer for boosting fuel efficiency. Whilst all this is happening, companies also need to be setting up transparent pricing models and effective budgeting is key to offering competitive quotes while ensuring operational expenses are covered.

    5. Day/ time restrictions

    Finally, when organising a route, there can be day and time restrictions to when an abnormal load can drive through that specific area. This is due to the significant economic impact to traffic congestion. So, within the Birmingham and midlands area (as this is where AW Baxter is based) there is no movement allowed between these times:

    • Monday to Friday 7.00am to 9.00am.
    • Monday to Friday 16.00pm to 18.00pm.
    • Bank holiday weekends from 00.01hrs on the Saturday until 09.01hrs on the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday.
    • During periods where a major event has been planned
    • Bank holidays and other holidays e.g. Christmas and new year.

    There can also be other times at the discretion of the force. But ultimately, routes and timing of the travel need to be calculated in order for the load to get to its destination on time and safely.

    How does AW Baxter overcome these challenges?

    At AW Baxter, we manage ESDAL permits internally for all abnormal loads over 290 cm wide. Loads wider than this require a private escort, and police authorities must review the route to determine if a police escort is necessary. In such cases, we coordinate directly with the police to ensure efficient route planning and compliance. Our goal is to streamline this process for our clients, handling all aspects from permit planning. With adequate lead time, we secure all necessary permits promptly and effectively, ensuring an organised and timely process for every load.

    The planning of a specific route for an abnormal load is typically predetermined by the ESDAL system. However, at AW Baxter, we can go a step further by offering comprehensive route surveys. This involves a full inspection of the planned route prior to transport, assessing its suitability, identifying any tight spots, and addressing potential obstacles such as overhead cables, trees, and street furniture. Regardless of the complexity of the route, AW Baxter is committed to finding a viable solution. Our efficient system significantly reduces unnecessary time loss and planning efforts. Additionally, we meticulously account for all transport time restrictions when planning our initial route. By integrating these considerations into our planning, we ensure compliance with regulations and optimise the timed arrival of the load, providing a smooth and efficient process from start to finish.

    At AW Baxter, the loading and securing of abnormal cargo is done with the utmost care and precision. Our onsite teams are highly trained and hold forklift and crane licenses, enabling them to professionally and safely handle a wide variety of loads. Equipped with a fleet of advanced equipment, our team ensures efficient and secure loading onto the appropriate trailers.

    Our fleet includes:

    • STGO Cat 2 - 65-tonne tractor units
    • Extendable flatbed trailers
    • Power steer extendable semi low loaders
    • Low loader plant trailers
    • Extendable plant trailers with ramps

    With this impressive array of trailers, we can confidently and efficiently transport any abnormal load that comes our way. Our commitment to quality and safety in loading and transportation makes AW Baxter a trusted partner in handling complex logistics.

    Finally, let’s address the critical challenge: cost. This is a primary concern for many companies, and rightly so, as the expenses associated with transporting abnormal loads can significantly impact your project's profit margins. At AW Baxter, we understand this concern and prioritise transparency in our pricing.

    Our efficient system for calculating routes ensures that you receive the most economical yet safe path for your cargo, minimising fuel expenses. Additionally, we operate our own escort vehicles, reducing the need for subcontracting and further lowering your costs.

    Our commitment is to offer a fair price while guaranteeing that your abnormal load arrives at its destination on time and in the same condition as it left our warehouse. With AW Baxter, you can trust that your transport costs are managed effectively without compromising on safety or efficiency.

    Final Thoughts and Contact Information

    Transporting abnormal loads is a complex undertaking that requires meticulous planning and execution to ensure compliance with legal requirements, safe route selection, and proper load handling. At AW Baxter, we excel in managing these challenges with a comprehensive approach that covers every aspect from legal permits to cost-effective route planning and secure transportation. Our dedicated team, equipped with advanced tools and a diverse fleet, works tirelessly to ensure your abnormal loads are transported efficiently, safely, and on time.

    By leveraging our in-depth expertise and state-of-the-art equipment, we provide reliable and professional services tailored to meet the unique needs of abnormal load transport. Whether you need precise route planning, safe load handling, or cost-efficient solutions, AW Baxter is here to support your logistics with excellence.

    For further information or to discuss your abnormal load transport needs, please contact us:

    +44 (0)1902 540249

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