Transporting the abnormal

Generators and transformers are not light objects, and with South Africa’s unusual spacing requirements to take into consideration, it takes a specialised company to deliver the components that keep the country running.

Operating a large flotilla of vehicles unique to South Africa, heavy transportation specialists Rotran is able to deal with specialised loads through a fleet that can carry abnormal loads.

Within its large fleet, Rotran claims to be owner of the largest highway truck in the world. The truck is able to cater to 2.75 kilowatt/per tonne and possesses a huge 709 kilowatt engine built by international heavy equipment giants Caterpillar.

In the past five years the company has invested significantly in new equipment. The new additions have increased the company’s yearly load capacity from 9,000 tonnes to 24,000 tonnes.

Working in South Africa provides the company with a unique set of circumstances, as the country’s loading conditions differ to those in Europe. While in Europe trucks and trailers operate within an average spacing of 1.55 metres, in South Africa Rotran is forced to operate with as much spacing as possible of between 2-2.5 metres.

This specialised equipment is not easy to come across, and Rotran has, for the past five years, worked very closely with Nicolas Industries, who have built all the new equipment purchased by the company since 2005.

Aiding the big boys

Rotran is part of South African electricity public utility group Eskom, for whom it transports transformers.

Eskom, the largest producer of electricity in Africa, operates a number of notable power stations across the country, including nuclear-fuelled facilities.
Rotran, which was formed out of Eskom’s need to transport transformers, has often been tasked by its parent company with transporting generators, thermal power stations and nuclear components.

The company worked to successfully deliver of an Advanced SytholReactor for mining, energy, chemicals and synfuels company Sasol — a task that involved delivering a load that was 21 metres long, nine meters high and nine meters wide.

The huge reactor formed part of the Secunda Growth Programme and has since proved essential to improving that area’s economic prospects.

Adopting the young

With a workforce of a relatively advanced age, Rotran has opted to undergo a major recruitment process in recent years, with the company addressing the age of its workforce by introducing a younger generation of workers.

Starting with a training programme for younger drivers, the company took on a selection of under-privileged, previously unemployed young adults.
Once they had reached an acceptable level of expertise they joined the company’s full-time operation, working alongside an older generation who will gradually pass the baton of knowledge on.

The youngsters, despite having the fortune to join such an remarkable company, will not have it all their own way, with tough working conditions for some drivers who could be on the road for periods of up to eight weeks.

Larger loads

Rotran’s yearly loads have continued to climb, from around 13,000 tonnes of cargo transported in 2007 to 15,000 tonnes in 2009.

With its enlarged fleet the company’s load capabilities have rocketed from its 2007 figures with the company transporting close to 24,000 tonnes in 2010.
With an increased workforce mixing youthful vigour with invaluable experience, and continuous growing loads, Rotran is looking to a bright future with it specialist skills proving to play an essential role in its clients’ operations.