Home » This Machine Sneaks Giant Wind Turbine Blades Through Tight Village Streets

This Machine Sneaks Giant Wind Turbine Blades Through Tight Village Streets

Wind Turbine Blade Transoport Scheuerle Rotorblattadapter G4 Steil Kranarbeiten 5 Ts
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When it comes to aerodynamics, size does matter. For planes, bigger wings create more lift, and for wind turbines, bigger blades can be used to generate more power. As wind turbines have grown ever larger over the years, this has posed an issue around transporting these giant blades, particularly through the confines of small towns and tight mountain roads. One transport company has found a solution to that problem in the form of a very specialized vehicle.

The problem with transporting wind turbine blades is that they are long, continuous pieces of great length. Modern blades can be up to around 350 feet long in the case of the 10-megawatt class of turbines. Often, getting them to an installation site requires transit through towns, which can pose huge problems. Normally hauled by semi-trucks with a dolly at the rear, it can be impossible to get a wind turbine blade through a roundabout or a tight corner in such situations. In those cases, cranes must be used to lift the blade through, before reloading the truck and continuing the journey.

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The transport industry built a new class of vehicle to solve this problem–the self-propelled rotor blade adapter. The Scheuerle Rotor Blade Adapter G4 is the type seen here, built by German industrial giant Transporter Industry International, or TII. Fundamentally, it looks like a giant yellow trailer with no attached semi truck. It features a single cantilever-style mount for a large turbine blade.

The end of the turbine blade is left unsupported, with no dolly at the rear. The real magic, though, is in the fact that the mount itself can pivot. This allows the blade to be raised up at an angle when required. It’s a crucial feature that makes all the difference, allowing the vehicle to get a turbine blade around a corner without clipping street signs or knocking off chimneys.

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If the basic concept looks familiar, it’s essentially a self-propelled modular transporter, or SPMT, with a wind turbine mount on the back. SPMTs are used for all kinds of heavy, slow-speed hauling jobs, like moving parts of ships, oils rigs, or even shifting entire buildings. The vehicle runs on a 300 horsepower diesel engine, though it doesn’t directly drive the wheels. Instead, hydraulic motors are used to drive the wheels on a couple of the axles, providing fine control. Each axle can also be steered on its own pivot, and can be raised or lowered to keep the vehicle flat even on very uneven terrain.

The vehicle is driven by remote control by an operator walking along with the vehicle. Indeed, this isn’t a limitation, as it’s not designed to go much faster than this anyway. When you’re trying not to poke a hole through somebody’s house with a giant turbine blade, it’s pretty typical to want to take your time, anyway. You’d never use one of these for long-distance transit, of course; it’s for use in tight situations where just hauling a blade on a trailer simply won’t do.

It’s capable of tilting a wind turbine blade up to an angle as steep as 60 degrees. That’s helpful for navigating hairpin turns that would otherwise be impossible with a long blade. It’s particularly relevant, given that wind turbines are often installed in mountain areas with winding roads that pose great challenges to navigate with such large, unwiedly cargo.

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With a giant turbine blade raised so high up in the air, there can be some tipping concerns, especially on sloped roads. To manage this, the platform’s tilt sensors trigger a warning vibration on the remote control if the platform is at risk of tipping. The operator can then use the hydraulics to extend the wheels on one side to level the platform on uneven terrain.  A wind speed sensor can also be fitted to the blade to ensure it’s not at risk of getting blown over. If speeds are excessive, the operator is warned so they can either lower the blade down, or rotate it so it presents a slimmer profile to the wind.

Saving time, effort, and money is the whole point of this design. It’s intended to be a quicker, safer, and easier way to get a turbine blade through a restrictive physical environment. To further aid in productivity for delivery crews, there are some other nifty design features, too. There is a hydraulic-locking quick-release fitting for turbine blades that can be used to speed up the loading and unloading process. It consists of a steel frame that is bolted to the blades ahead of time, and mounts to the blade carrier via pins. This allows a bunch of blades to be fitted up with the adapters in advance, so the transport crew can simply load and unload them in a hurry. A further boon is that when the blade carrier has dropped off a blade, its drive axles can be raised so it can be hauled back to pick up another with a semi-truck. This is much faster than driving the machine back at its regular walking pace.

If you live in a hilly or high-wind area, you just might see machines like these crawling around your town sometime in the future. They’re set to be a crucial backbone of the wind energy industry as it continues to build larger, more powerful turbines.

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Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
6 months ago

What an incredible machine.

Ed Friese
Ed Friese
7 months ago

With an average turbine blade weighing between 11,500 and 27,000 lbs, it seems to me it would be more economical to use a helicopter (CH-47 Chinook or Mil Mi-26 can lift upwards of 40,000 lbs). Bundle 3 blades (maybe with a helicopter on each end), and they could be delivered anywhere (quickly, with minimal disruption, and with much fewer workers).

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
7 months ago
Reply to  Ed Friese

Wouldn’t that spew even more “evil carbon” than a 300hp diesel?

Space
Space
6 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

I bet if they added up the carbon from the rig along with supporting vehicles and the traffic nightmare this move creates it might cause more carbons than a helicopter.
Plus helicopters are cool.

Phuzz
Phuzz
6 months ago
Reply to  Ed Friese

If it really was cheaper, then that’s how they’d be doing it. Possibly there’s insurance costs, which are higher for helicopter carrying?
Or perhaps the blades are just too unwieldy to safely carry under a helicopter.
Either way, about the one thing you can count on capitalism for, is finding the cheapest way to do something.

Last edited 6 months ago by Phuzz
Defenestrator
Defenestrator
6 months ago
Reply to  Ed Friese

It would definitely be faster, but running a helicopter is really expected even compared to a custom truck like this.

John McMillin
John McMillin
7 months ago

This German invention seems destined for use in Europe, not the US. Not so many wind farms are accessible only by passing through “tight village streets.” They’re out in open country, where land is cheap. Also, US cities have so little buried infrastructure that streets and intersections are littered with overhead wires, which limit the usefulness of this rig’s tilt features.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
7 months ago

“Is that a rotor blade or are you happy to see me?”

10001010
10001010
7 months ago

PIVOT!!!

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
7 months ago

When I went into engineering I wanted to be the guy who came up with these solutions and invented cool stuff like this.

Oh well….

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
7 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

Same! I’m a lawyer now hahahaha.
What did you end up doing?

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
7 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

I’m a bureaucrat for a sewer utility. Still in engineering, but not really the same. I do get to engage in problem solving, but nothing this cool.

Last edited 7 months ago by Balloondoggle
Nathan Williams
Nathan Williams
7 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

You sound down in the dumps

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
7 months ago

It’s all downhill to here.

Jb996
Jb996
7 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

Well, you didn’t get your #1 job, but now you work both #1 and #2!

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
7 months ago
Reply to  Jb996

I’m #1 in the #2 business!

AC2DE
AC2DE
6 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

This is a crappy string of puns.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
6 months ago
Reply to  AC2DE

I’ve got a million of ’em.

MrLM002
MrLM002
7 months ago

This sounds like one of the most complex trailers ever built. The thing I love most about trailers is their simplicity.

Elanosaurous
Elanosaurous
7 months ago

Now that’s what I call rear-wheel steering! Very cool, I love industrial equipment like this

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
7 months ago

I’m assuming there’s an aerodynamic reason for it, but can anyone tell me why there are what look like saw teeth on the tip of the blade?

ChuckFickens
ChuckFickens
7 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Reduces turbulence from the blades and therefore noise.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
7 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Bird chopper

Jakob Johansen
Jakob Johansen
7 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Not fun, but fun. Birds do actually not get chopped by turbine blades.

Off cause some birds do, but the kill count is minuscule compared to windows, cars and power lines.

Silubr
Silubr
7 months ago
Reply to  Jakob Johansen

And cats.
People. for some reason, like to forget the house cats.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
7 months ago
Reply to  Silubr

That’s because before any human points a finger at a housecat they need to take a long hard look in a mirror. People, with their windows, turbine blades, poisons, guns, chemicals, airplane engines, cars, land developments, slaughterhouses and whatnot kill far and away more birds than housecats could ever hope to. It wasn’t the housecat that wiped out the passenger pigeon, nor the Great Auk or – I’d think considering its size – the Dodo.

El Barto
El Barto
7 months ago
Reply to  Silubr

Feral cats kill more birds than house cats, but having said that, possums, stoats and rats kill more birds in NZ than house cats and feral cats combined by a large margin.

I’m all for trap, neuter & release of feral cats so they can’t breed, just as I’m all for house cats wearing collars with bells to help stop them killing birds. If only someone can invent a collar that cats can’t get out of.

Peeps wowsing on about banning house cats or stopping them from going outside have obviously forgotten how the Black Plague was spread…

James Mason
James Mason
7 months ago

I want to put a giant marshmallow on the end and angle it over a big fire.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
7 months ago

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”

ProfessorOfUselessFacts
ProfessorOfUselessFacts
7 months ago

This looks to be the answer, until it encounters power lines, stoplights, or any other obstruction that prevents raising.

DadBod
DadBod
7 months ago

Totally, they should drive this boondoggle into a lake and give up. Imagine putting all this effort into designing and building this thing while missing such an obvious flaw.

Last edited 7 months ago by DadBod
Njd
Njd
7 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

So in your view because this tackles one issue but not every possible issue it’s worthless?

DadBod
DadBod
7 months ago
Reply to  Njd

I forgot the /s tag

AC2DE
AC2DE
6 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

That’s the problem with good deadpan. Had me fooled at first, too.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
7 months ago

That is where route planning comes into play…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
7 months ago

Big moves like these normally include the local utilities and governments.
-knew a house-mover in the 80s whose primary job was to straddle roof peaks and use a Y-shaped pole to keep various lines from dragging on the roof, so I’ve read articles like this following developments over the decades. Pretty often, various lines are just disconnected and sections of town are without power for awhile.
The modular platforms used are pretty cool: big blocks with multiple tires hydraulically powered as noted. They link them together to get whatever configuration is needed. This is the first time I’ve seen mention that they can be individually raised or lowered.

There are a lot of cool videos of moving lighthouses on yt

Last edited 7 months ago by TOSSABL
StillNotATony
StillNotATony
7 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I lived in Savannah, GA when they sold one of their port cranes to a place in Brazil. They put it on a barge, floated it down the river to the ocean, and onto Brazil.

However, it had to go under the Talmadge Bridge. There were a lot of scenarios run, and it went out during low tide so it would clear.

A friend of a friend had the job of standing on top of the crane and visually verifying it was gonna make it. He said it cleared easily, but he could have stood on the top railing and touched the underside of the bridge as it passed beneath.

DadBod
DadBod
7 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

One of the coolest things about Savannah (besides the to-go cups from bars) is glancing down the block and seeing an enormous container ship blotting out the sky

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
7 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Oh yeah! If you’re out toward Tybee Island and look toward the Savannah River across the salt marshes, the ships look like they’re sailing through grass.

Mike B
Mike B
7 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

I’m looking forward to seeing footage of the battleship New Jersey (Iowa class museum ship) going into drydock next year. They’re floating her down the river, but her superstructure is too tall to clear a bridge. They’re in the process of moving the upper radar array and some masts, and they have to plan the tide just right to get the lowest tide that still leaves enough room for her draft.

Phuzz
Phuzz
6 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

My dad would have been rubbish at that job. The rest of the family remembers the time he insisted we could fit under a bridge without lowering the mast on a boat we were borrowing. To be fair, he was only off by about six inches, but that meant the boat pivoted, tilting the mas enough for it to fit, and we ended up pinned by the mast. Fortunately lowering the mast was pretty straightforward, so we were on out way within a few minutes, but we’ve still never let him forget it 😉

Drew
Drew
7 months ago

Yeah, I was really hoping there would be something in here about how they navigate those other than planning routes to minimize impact. I’ll bet it’s super stressful for the person with the remote when trying to thread the thing between structures and power lines.

Last edited 7 months ago by Drew
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
7 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Patience and nerves of steel definitely job requirements.
Stressful is putting it mildly; I don’t believe I’d want that job

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
7 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Imagine the person holding the controller is secretly disgruntled and decides to give a big “fuck you” on their last day…

Mike B
Mike B
7 months ago

They plan ahead and move those things. They can coordinate with local utility companies; it happens all the time when moving buildings.

Edit: I should have kept reading, TOSSABL beat me to it.

Last edited 7 months ago by Mike B
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
6 months ago

If only they could plan the route well in advance using maps and human scouts

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