When it comes to transportation of particularly large or heavy goods, motor transport is the often used means due to a number of reasons – the development of the road network and road infrastructure, high speed, the ability to perform loading and unloading work almost anywhere. For powerful modern trucks and road trains, there are some nuances that allow to perform such transportation. Which exactly? Let’s try to figure it out.
In fact, any cargo, the dimensions of which protrude beyond the vehicle carrying it is considered oversized. Most often it is industrial equipment, construction and road-building machines, mining, drilling and quarry machinery, marine vessels, as well as a number of other machines and mechanisms, which can be transported whole or in parts by a truck, auto train, or even a whole a column of equipment (for example, if it is necessary to transport a huge BELAZ dump truck weighing several hundred tons). Cargo may be in the category of oversized on one or more parameters. For example, lengthy — that is the length exceeding the permissible by local legislation. In the Russian Federation, the Road Traffic Regulations set the permissible length for a single vehicle — 12 meters, for trailer vehicles — 12 meters, for a road train — 20 meters. However, this does not mean that a load exceeding this length and beyond the dimensions of the vehicle in front or behind cannot be transported on a public road. It is possible to transport such oversized cargo, but this will require special coordination and authorization measures, adherence to the speed regime, a special sign indicating large cargo – and often assistance in the form of departmental vehicles with flashing lights. In many respects this also applies to the width dimension: this parameter in our country should fit in the figure of 2,55 meters (2,6 for refrigerators and isothermal vans), and everything that is above that is considered to be already a large cargo. The height of the vehicle from the level of the road surface shall not exceed the mark of 4 meters. There are a number of rules regarding the speed of vehicles. When driving on major routes, it should not exceed 60 kilometers per hour, and when driving on bridges — 15 kilometers per hour.
But these are only the requirements related to the safety of all road users. Others are those that make the transportation business profitable for those adhering to regulations. After all, the transportation of oversized cargo by road is a troublesome matter, but also profitable: the prices for it exceed the tariffs for standard cargo transportation. After all, a truck or a road train is able to deliver bulky cargo even to remote points where no railway tracks are built and you cannot reach by water. And there are more than enough such places on the map of Russia. Yes, and to unload the car, as we have already noted at the very beginning, is much simpler: neither the airport loading area nor the railway station are required for it.
However, we mentioned profits. In order for it to become what the carrier expects, a whole staff of logisticians is carefully studying the route, all the restrictions on it and the costs associated with the trip. After all, you will need permission for oversized transportation, payment of state duty, and coordination of the route and the package of documents associated with its passage.
Needless to say, a thorough study of the route is associated not only with the planned profit. After all, along the way there are power lines, tunnels, bridges and other potential obstacles — and the quality of road pavements in Russia varies greatly. Therefore, the transportation route for oversized cargo is coordinated in the most detailed way with the Rosavtodor authorities (federal road agency), the traffic police and a number of other authorities.
Other important points are also taken into account — for example, visibility ahead and behind the vehicle must be free from interference. Oversized cargo should not greatly reduce the maneuverability of the truck or road train, as well as the length of the stopping distance. And also — not create serious pollution for the environment. For this reason, toxic goods are transported in special packaging.
We emphasize that all the above requirements for the transportation of oversized cargo are observed very carefully — after all, their violation can not only entail heavy fines, but in principle make the completion of the trip impossible.
The cost of delivery of oversized cargo, depending on the region may vary significantly. This is due to the different quality of the roads, the price of fuel, the average wage of drivers, the quality of the carrier’s vehicles (pricier vehicles transform to pricier fair per kilometer) — and, of course, the complexity and urgency of the order itself. Many oversized loads require complex attachment to the vehicle, which also affects the price. Despite the high price of transportation of oversized cargo there is often no alternative: after all, a very large number of goods of this kind have a unique and high cost worthy of such expense. Due to most cargo items having high value carrier reliability and good professional reputation are essential.
In addition to cargo being above permitted dimensions for public road transportation, it may also not meet the established standards for mass. Overloading trailers, especially if done regularly, leads to the Administrative Code fines, escalating rapidly with each infraction. Speaking about the mass of the loaded vehicle, we clarify that there are two standards: on the permissible mass and on the axle load of the truck (road train). The permissible mass is, to put it simply, the mass allowed by the manufacturer for use, which consists of the weight of the car itself and the weight of the cargo it carries. If a truck weighing 8 tons has a permissible weight of 24 tons, it is possible to transport them 16 tons of cargo.
Of course, in a two-three-axle truck and a 5—6-axle road train, the permissible masses will be different. Installed for different cars norms are listed in Appendix 1 to the Government Decree №272. So the allowable weight of a two-axle truck is 18 tons. Three-axle — 25 tons, 4-axle — 32 tons, 5-axle — 35 tons (for road trains, trailers and semi-trailers, with the same number of axles, slightly more: 28, 36 and 40 tons, respectively). For road trains with 6 or more axles, the permissible mass can reach 44 tons. With the greater weight of the loaded vehicle, a special permit for transportation will be required. If the weight of the truck with the cargo exceeds 80 tons, an agreed route will be required for bridges and other difficult sections of the route.
The second important characteristic — the axle load — describes, as it is easy to guess, the load that a single axle of the vehicle carries on the road. The load on the rear axle of any type of commercial vehicle is always stronger — it is usually behind the cargo compartment (and ahead of the cab and engine, the load from which is significantly less. To control this important parameter, the term «maximum axle load» is usually used), meaning pressure from most loaded axis. To impose restrictions on the passage of vehicles with a particular axial load (for example, 5 tons per axle), on certain sections of the route, appropriate traffic signs are set to restrict the transportation of oversized cargo.
Of course, there are a lot of other important issues related to the transport of bulky goods — such as the actuation of the parking brake on a slope of 16% and the availability of wheel chocks — which we will not touch on in this short article.
The last thing that, perhaps, should be touched upon in the conversation about the transportation of oversized cargo is the question of accompanying such operations. In addition to the forwarder, who is in the cab and along the route, coordinates all issues with a pre-planned route, at certain stages of the route, the transport performing the transportation is accompanied by traffic police cars, whose employees notify road users, reducing the risk of traffic accidents. Sometimes for escorting trucks and road trains transporting oversize, armed guard services — but this practice is more often applied to the transport of dangerous or high-value goods than those that differ from standard ones by their weight or size.