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Products and solutions, 2009-07-15, 03:12 PM

Never too hot to handle: Special trailer increases load security and reduces lead times at ThyssenKrupp VDM

Wide products and coils have to be kept clean, dry and absolutely secure in transit – in some cases at a temperature of 200 degrees: The handling of high-performance materials from ThyssenKrupp VDM (Werdohl, Germany) poses particular challenges for logistics. The forwarding company Kuhn, which has been working for ThyssenKrupp VDM since 1947 and transports on average 1,000 tons of coil each month, has now developed a vehicle tailored to the requirements of ThyssenKrupp VDM. "Hot products" made from nickel alloys, which previously had to cool for three or four days before they could be transported, can now be dispatched within half a day or a day of production – even in the case of wide products. The shorter lead time enhances the cost-efficiency of logistics at ThyssenKrupp VDM.

"The main reasons for producing a special truck trailer were ThyssenKrupp VDM's special requirements in terms of load security, transportation times and fire protection," says Helge Kuhn, managing director of Kuhn Transport GmbH & Co. KG, Werdohl. The forwarding company developed the innovative idea after in-depth discussions with the specialists from ThyssenKrupp VDM. Fahrzeugbau Schmidt, a custom vehicle specialist based in Hagen, Germany, was responsible for implementing the idea. "All the parts are made by hand," says managing director Uwe Schmidt. "The trailer sets new standards in terms of load security and flexibility."

Loads weighing up to 35 tons can be transported with the newly developed vehicle, simplifying the logistics process in particular for forgings produced by ThyssenKrupp VDM in Unna, Germany. The trailer is also unique in terms of size: While it is wide enough to carry products measuring up to four meters across instead of the usual 2.48 meters, it is shorter in length, measuring only 12.80 meters instead of the normal 13.60 meters," says Angela Krister, head of distribution at ThyssenKrupp VDM. "This shorter length was important to ensure smooth intra-plant transportation at our production site. If the truck was longer, the forklifts wouldn't be able to drive round it during loading and unloading."
As the freight – at 200 degrees – is too hot to touch during loading, the driver must also have some way of securing and fastening the load without difficulty. The new design solution is therefore highly flexible, allowing the vehicle to be fully opened and dismantled. "The side bars that prevent the load from slipping can be released, pushed forward as far as the cab and locked into position there. The trailer frame can then be extended on both sides," says Schmidt. The vehicle has an adjustable cover which can be lengthened by letting out a seam fastened with Velcro. The outside hold-down straps can also be lengthened so that the freight material is completely enclosed in the cover and protected from spray and dust. To stabilize the truck cover, additional lashings are inserted in the side of the trailer after loading and tightened. Lashings weighing one ton in total are permanently carried on board to ensure the vehicle is always equipped to carry all loads.
"With its customized length and width, the new trailer is such an unusual vehicle that even getting it registered was complicated," says Kuhn. "It had to be registered three times altogether – first for general road use, then for the transportation of heavy loads and finally for its overwidth permit. Only then did it qualify for an EU-wide license."

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