Text: Juliane Gringer
Photos: Alexander Volkmann/FUNKE Mediengruppe
P. Schwandner Logistik + Transport GmbH specialises in the transport of vanes for wind turbines. In early 2023, the company brought nine of these extremely heavy and long loads to a wind farm in Thuringia. As with any form of transport of this kind, this was an exciting challenge with regard to people, technology and expertise. This article is part of a series on exceptional transport operations on BPW axles over the past 125 years. Episode 3: Wind turbine blades!
The wind vanes that the P. Schwandner Logistik + Transport GmbH team manoeuvred through the Unstrut valley in Thuringia in 2023 are 74 metres long – more than four times the length of a standard semitrailer. A total of nine of these vanes were brought to a wind farm near Keula in Thuringia, a village with a population of 500: three new wind turbines are being built near the village to convert the power of air movement into green electricity. “We transport around 1,000 wind vanes every year,” says Managing Director Peter Schwandner. “These transports are everything but standard.”
Careful planning in advance
Special vehicles erect wind vanes
Naturally, the shape and dimensions of the objects being moved are unusual in such transports: the cantilevered rotor blades are usually made of composite materials, weigh around twelve tonnes and – because of their length – require skilful manoeuvring, especially when passing through towns and villages. Special vehicles are needed here to raise the vanes in narrow passages, for example. Schwandner uses a blade lifter from the company Goldhofer. The self-propelled blade lifters have a modular design and are therefore extremely flexible. This allows the rotor blade to be tilted and rotated up to 50 degrees. Two people walk alongside and can use remote controls to operate both the self-propelled unit and the wind vane adapter, which is used when the vane is rotated or lifted.
Straightforward, target-orientated, sincere
Specialising in Special and heavy transports, the Schwandner team is deployed throughout Europe, moving not only wind turbines but also agricultural, construction and industrial machinery, among other things. Schwandner also handles marine transports worldwide. The company’s services range from providing consultation regarding the most economical transport solution, to applying for the necessary permits, to planning, handling and timely delivery. Schwandner employs about 370 people in Germany – including the Truck drivers. The medium-sized company also has a subsidiary in Eastern Europe, bringing the total in the team to around 700 people. Managing Director Peter Schwandner’s main concern for his customers is honesty: “As a company, we are very straightforward, target-orientated and 100 per cent sincere.”
A partner that remains strong in Europe
The twelve-axle transport vehicle that was used in Thuringia is equipped with BPW Axles. “We choose to buy BPW because we are convinced by the company, by its services and by its quality promise,” says Peter Schwandner. “The stability of the material is extremely important in wind vane transport because it offers reliability. If a special transport were to break down, it would be a mammoth task to get it off the motorway, for example. You can simply tow a truck. But with the vehicles we use here, that would be much more costly or even almost impossible.” BPW delivers precisely the quality that his business needs, says Schwandner: “And I value the company as a partner that remains strong in Europe”.
Zig-zagging through the whole country
The vanes for wind turbines usually come to Europe from Asia by ship, and often travel long distances: “We sometimes travel from Cuxhaven to southern Austria,” says Schwandner. “And we never take the direct route, we zig-zag all over the country.” The timing is determined by the customer: “We are told when the vanes have to be at a construction site – just in time or as an advance delivery – and then our work begins.”