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‘Our transports are getting bigger, but our roads aren’t’

Have you ever looked at a wind turbine and wondered how these giants got to their location? Believe it or not, there are people specialized in ensuring exceptional transport like this stays on track. Literally, since every bend in the road and intersection is examined and measured in advance. Lina Rombouts, in charge of the Pilots & Permits division, tells us more.

Night shift

“Pilots & Permits is responsible for the piloting and permits for all of the exceptional transport in Europe. We study routes for the wind turbine industry to see which roads we can use to transport this giant cargo. No two transport orders are alike which is what makes this job so varied!”

These types of transports are usually carried out at night between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. since objects that exceed 30 meters in length and four meters in width can’t be transported during the daytime. “The dimensions of wind turbines have nearly doubled since 2015,” Lina says, “and while they used to be 55 meters long, these days, this can easily be as much as 80 meters.”

A team of at least three pilots is required for the blades. The one at the front knows the route by heart, and gives instructions to the person driving behind the transport since they can’t see the obstacles on the road. This person’s task is to guide the trailer’s axles from a distance. The third pilot stops traffic. “Even though everyone has their own specific role, they still have to be perfectly coordinated with each other.”

Measurement is the key

 Our entire team ensures the perfect preparations are made. Preapprovals are requested from all of the municipalities involved to modify the itineraries if necessary. “We make sure the permits are in order and check the route every day. Every bend in the road has to be recorded, every under-bridge clearance height known. We also screen every route for road construction works. It has to be a well-oiled machine, but it’s always a stressful operation.”

Pilots and Permits exceptional cargo
Destination reached

According to Lina, the greatest challenge is the infrastructure that isn’t growing to accommodate the types of transport. “Our transports are getting bigger and bigger, but the roads aren’t changing. In the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany, a lot of the route can be covered by highway. In Belgium however, 80% of the transport has to take ‘back roads’. One project that really stands out in Lina’s memory only had a very short route to cover. “A 1000-ton module had arrived via the canal, and had to be moved onto dry land. Our measurements had to be accurate down to the centimeter. Pure adrenaline rush.”

The office at Pilots & Permits is always busy. One night they’ll be driving from the French border to the German border, and then have to arrange the following transport in Belgium. Every week is new and unpredictable. “80% of the success of your business depends on your employees’ motivation and expertise. My team is very responsible, and always gives their all. I’m demanding, but also super proud of my people,” concludes Lina.

About Gosselin Logistics

Gosselin Logistics is a leading provider of logistics services. With activities ranging from shipping, forwarding and warehouse storage to customs formalities Gosselin Logistics can offer its customers a constant supply chain. Heavy-Gosselin is a division of Gosselin Logistics specialized in industrial projects. 

Gosselin Logistics is a division of the Gosselin Group that has its headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium. The company was founded in 1930 and employs a staff of 800 that generates more than 270 million Euros in sales.

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