Delivering Willenhall Super Grid Transformer

Willenhall Transformer SPMT

Our third girder bridge project in a four week period, this time our Team were off to Willenhall substation.

Having already delivered Cellarhead and Lovedean in the previous weeks, this would be the third of Collett’s August National Grid projects, and with the 170 Tonne transformer safely nestled in our girder bridge trailer we began the first 74 mile leg of the journey.

Under rolling escort from Cheshire, West Midlands and Staffordshire Police, our pre-planned route from the Port of Ellesmere saw us travel through Chester, Northwich, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford before coming to rest in the abnormal load layby at Penkridge. Here, our Team and the 66m (L) x 5.3m (W) x 4.8m (H) loaded combination would wait until the early hours of Sunday morning before continuing on, minimising disruption and impact on other road users in the more populated areas we were required to navigate.

Pinch Points

Working closely with Cheshire, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and Walsall Councils in the pre-planning of the project our Team had already arranged for the removal of any street furniture, which identified in our specialist swept path analysis reports, would potentially impede the safe passage of the loaded combination. Another potential pinch point would be the access to the Substation site. With the access on Bilston Lane being a residential area we had already notified these residents in advance, as well as local media, to ensure that those living within the affected areas would be well aware of the project before its commencement. At this point there would also be parking restrictions in place and the implementation of a temporary road closure at the entrance to the Substation grounds.

As the early hours of Sunday dawned, our Team departed the layby to continue on the second, and final leg of the journey to Willenhall Substation. Travelling between 10-15mph throughout the route, our convoy steadily navigated the outskirts of Wolverhampton before heading through to the more confined streets of Willenhall. Due to the 66m length of the combination and the tightness of the turns on to the site, our Team were required to circumnavigate two roundabouts on our approach, allowing us to facilitate a left turn to the site road and deliver the cargo to its required destination.

Transhipment Operations

In the early hours of Sunday morning, approximately four hours after departing from the abnormal load layby some 15 miles away, the cargo arrived safely on site. Due to the restricted access to the Substation our Team began transhipment operations to discharge the transformer from the girder bridge to an awaiting 6 axle SPMT with an adapted operating speed to suit the axle loads. Once loaded, we hydraulically lowered the SPMT, and the transformer to a height of 5.6m allowing the cargo to be driven on to the site before manoeuvring into storage position and lowering onto support stools.

With the jacking & skidding system already in place, our Heavy Lift Team began the process of gradually delivering the transformer to its final positioning. After lowering the transformer to the skid track, the hydraulic push pull units were engaged, extending and retracting between the locking points and effortlessly gliding the Super Grid Transformer to its designated plinth within the grounds of the Substation.

With the Super Grid Transformer safely skated into position that completed the hat-trick, Cellarhead, Lovedean and Willenhall all safely delivered and bringing to a close an extremely busy four weeks!

Willenhall Jacking & Skidding