January 13 - UTC Overseas executed a record-breaking project shipment, delivering a huge phase-shifting transformer (PST) from China to Utah in the USA. In the process UTC set records for the heaviest over-road permits issued in the states of Utah, Arizon
Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, began preparations in 2012 to expand its Pinto substation in southeastern Utah. The PST was manufactured in China by BTW and because of its sheer size and weight - almost 1.6 million lbs (725.7 tonnes) - it was constructed in three sections: two transformers and a connecting throat unit. UTC claims this was the largest transformer ever exported from China to the USA.
BTW's domestic partner Zhongjie liaised with UTC's Houston and Shanghai offices to develop a plan for moving the transformer. The late summer window was a busy time for Chinese exports, making it hard to find a heavy lift breakbulk vessel with the space and resources to handle the two transformers, throat section, and an additional 60 crates of accessories.
As the units were readied for transport a huge chemical explosion rocked Tianjin, damaging parts of the port and raising the threat of a possible missed sailing. Although originally given a week to complete the 200 km move, UTC Shanghai and Zhongjie worked with Chinese authorities to shave their original seven-day transit plan to just five, enabling the vessel to sail on time.
Upon arrival at the Port of Houston during October 2015, the two transformers were moved by rail to a spot close to Monticello. The throat unit was moved to site by truck.
UTC's own custom-built, 16-axle, 400-tonne capacity rail car was suited for the heavier 381-tonne "exciter" section. It was positioned on the 40 ft (12.2 m) deck with less than a half and inch to spare at either end.
UTC supervised securement of each unit to its respective railcar. Assembled in a special train, with empty 'idler' cars between the two loads to spread weight, they were moved nearly 1,000 miles (1,609 km) to Thoreau over a single weekend.
Months ahead of the project move, UTC's rail team was researching the ideal route from Houston to the project site. The southern corridor route was deemed to be optimal, and negotiations began with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad to get clearances for transport to a railhead in the New Mexico town of Thoreau, some 250 miles (386 km) from Monticello.
In Thoreau, UTC's sub-contractor, Intermountain Rigging and HeavyHaul (IRH), loaded the transformers on temporary stands using a jack and slide system. IRH then built a one million-lbs capacity (454-tonne) dual lane frame trailer around the smaller of the two units for road transport to Monticello.
The final approved route to Monticello wound through New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Since part of the route traversed Navajo land, approvals were also needed from tribal authorities and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. All three states said the trailer, large transformer and up to nine push and pull trucks, collectively represented the heaviest over-road load they had ever permitted.
The trailer measured 200 ft (60.96 m) long, with 30 axles and 240 tyres to spread the weight. When loaded, the configuration stood over 20 ft (6.09 m) high and 22 ft (6.7 m) wide.
At maximum configuration, with all trucks attached and dollies added when needed, the length reached 412 ft (125 m). "When moving such heavy weights, and with grades of up to 8 percent," noted UTC project field manager Jeremy Gibson, "failures of truck clutches and drive shafts are not uncommon. We had no significant mechanical failures."
The two transformers were moved to Monticello's San Juan County Fairgrounds, near to the substation in two separate moves, each of which took 7-9 days to complete, says UTC.
A jack and slide system was again used to position the transformer units and throat on a Goldhofer self-propelled transporter for delivery to the substation.
It took just over two months to transport the heavy items from Houston to their final position.
"After 20 months of planning and execution, we coordinated delivery of these massive heavy lifts safely, on time and within budget," said Matt Loll, UTC vice president for project development, North America and head of the company's transformer team.
Watch a video of the project below: