Companies typically survive in the crane, rigging, and transport industry for similar reasons: commitment to core principals, operational efficiency, ingenuity, a keen eye on safety, and top-notch customer service. Within this spectrum, certain names rise to the top because of their willingness to go even farther to assure that these values are continuously recognized and practiced. Edwards Moving & Rigging, out of Shelbyville, Kentucky, is one of these companies.
Since 1961, Edwards has worked tirelessly to achieve and maintain excellence in the heavy haul and rigging industry. The company was built upon a three-fold corporate philosophy designed specifically for the benefit of their clients—Safety, Quality, and Service—and they’ve been solving some of America’s most complex over-sized and over-weight transportation and rigging problems for over 50 years as a result.
Edwards has maintained a competitive edge by retaining its skilled personnel and steadily training them to meet the demands of the ever-evolving industry. They’ve also dedicated themselves to investing in the most state-of-the-art equipment in the world. Combine these commitments with a relentless attention to detail and old-fashioned hard work, and you get one of the most respected and accomplished names in the hauling and rigging industry.
It will come as no surprise then to learn that Edwards just finished a perfectly befitting project (literally wrapped it up as this issue went into production) involving 14 super-load pieces (the largest exceeding 350,000 pounds) that arrived at the Port of New Orleans from China, and were then loaded onto barges for a three-week journey up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to the Ford Truck Plant (FTP) in Louisville, Kentucky.
Project Lead Andy White explained that the destination was ultimately Louisville, where the cargo was offloaded by crane onto an Edwards multi-axle transporter and hauled another 12 miles to the plant where it was offloaded by gantry and set in place. (The Edwards portion of the endeavor eventually ended as each piece was delivered to the gantry hook.)
“This was an ideal turn-key, multi-modal project for Edwards,” White said. “We were involved from start to finish and managed the logistical and organizational details throughout.”
Essentially, Edwards received four stamping presses for one tandem line, consisting of (one) 2,500-metric-ton, (one) 1,600-metric-ton, and (two) 1,000-metric-ton presses from China, at the port of New Orleans—starting general discharging on September 30th. (The receipt of request for quotation [RFQ] became official on April 29th, with the Award of Contract landing on July 8th. The 14 super loads were all delivered on schedule between November 10th and 20th, 2014.)
Fourteen of the larger pieces were put on two hopper barges—the pieces were large enough that it was more economical to put them on barges rather than ship them over the roads. In conjunction with these pieces, about 285 smaller crated pieces were staged at the port based on a pre-planned load sequence, and then loaded to over-the-road (OTR) trucks and delivered to the FTP at an average rate of 10 trucks per day.
“As each piece came off, a load plan was developed for each one,” White said. “And it all had to be married to a delivery sequence. In other words, as the stuff came off the ship, it was moved to a large warehouse, checked in, and given a designation—so that when the trucks arrived, we knew exactly when and how to send it.”
Edwards’ responsibility within the larger project centered heavily around the check-in and organizational processes—getting the right pieces on the right trucks and barges, and keeping the schedule flowing. For the truck pieces, once on the road, further details had to be attended to: the weight, along with the overall travel height of nearly 14 feet, required the use of very specialized trailers to pass DOT requirements in reference to overhead bridge clearances and weight distribution on the numerous bridges on the route. (And the cherry on top: White also admitted that organizing a lot of truck drivers can be like herding cats.)
With the barges, as the cargo came off the ship, the ship provided a stow plan. “Basically: these pieces are here—those pieces are there,” he explained. “You need to work with the Port to decide which pieces go on which barge, but before we ever got to that point, we had to engineer a stow plan for each barge—to coincide with the stow plan on the ship, which coincided with the delivery schedule for the client.
“You then have to coordinate available space on the barge, and account for the structural integrity of the barge. Certain pieces have to be loaded a certain way, facing a certain way, and at the same time, you have to calculate the space required for all of this to fit on two barges.”
All of this, of course, required some pretty sophisticated machinery. “We used two 500-ton cranes, making a two-crane pick out of the hopper barges,” White said. “This method required using two 170-ton modular spreader bars—additionally requiring four 12-foot, 85-ton (vertical lift) wire rope slings, supplemented with four 18-foot, polyester 100-ton (vertical lift) slings.”
Moreover, Edwards used their four-post 500-ton gantry system to transfer loads from their onsite transporters to their OTR equipment—using anywhere from 55- to 200-ton shackles, depending on the piece being picked.
To maneuver all of this cargo, on both water and land, Edwards enlisted the services of quite a few companies—from a range of areas within the industry. Ports America New Orleans handled stevedoring services, staging, and sequencing of outbound OTR loads. Ceres Barge Lines provided hopper barges, and were extremely helpful with barge stow plans based on the delivery schedule. Buddeke River Terminals, out of Louisville, provided dock services, staging areas for press components, and flexibility with the delivery schedule. And Maxim Crane provided the two 500-ton cranes.
“Additionally, Louisville Metro/Jefferson County Police provided seven escorts per move, and handled traffic control perfectly, without incident,” White remarked. “State and City permitting offices were also very cooperative and understanding of our needs to get the project delivered to Ford.”
Permitting becomes almost as detailed a facet within an operation like this as any other component—a part of the equation not lost on White. “You’re trying to juggle the timing of the barge, the timing of the cranes, and the timing of the permits— because you marry that up with the city permits, which are only good for five days. You’ve got to bring this all together at the terminal in Louisville and stage onsite—with a pre-planned loading schedule.”
As an added bonus, the ripple effect on a job like this can be mind-boggling. White had to make sure every schedule was aligned and timed out precisely, so cranes would be ready at the point of receiving in Louisville to lift the cargo off the hopper barges, and have transporters ready to get it all to the plant.
He knew that every detail throughout the month-long journey from New Orleans to the plant in Louisville was designed so that the cargo would arrive at the plant at a specific time. “You also have to coordinate with the unloading schedule at the plant. They want certain pieces at certain times, because they have specific ways of unloading them—and they’re strict about when you can be at the plant. There’s a tight window.”
And then there are the inevitable snags that can, and likely will, happen at any point along the way. Case in point: the ship coming from China (a nearly 60-day journey) made several scheduled stops en route to New Orleans. “I’ve got barges waiting according to the ship’s ETA, but at the last minute, I get an update that the ship would be a week late,” White revealed. “Then the ship’s stow plan wasn’t exactly as we had originally planned, which of course effects everything else down the line. But you have to be prepared for this, however unpleasant.”
Suffice it to say, Edwards Moving & Rigging is pretty well prepared for snags at this point. Once the cargo finally did arrive, the well-planned operation of organizing, unloading, and transporting began. The end result?
“We met our customer’s delivery schedule on time and within budget, with no safety incidents or related issues,” White confirmed. “We received emails from the end user, press manufacture, as well as from our direct customer—acknowledging a job well done.”
With around 3,500 man-hours (10-12 people involved, all told), and seven months between receipt of RFQ and final delivery dedicated to the job, Edwards proved once again why they remain one of the most trusted names in the heavy haul and rigging business.
“The expansion at the Ford plant represents the creation of new jobs in a region where Edwards got its beginnings, so we were proud to have been a part of that kind of continued job creation and economic expansion,” White said. “In our industry, a lot of our ability to secure projects like this comes from relationships. Our attention to detail, trust, the planning side of things—that’s what distinguishes us.”
For more information, visit www.edwardsmoving.com.