● PackSolve was contracted to prepare five 120-tonne locomotives for shipping to Australia.
● Crating the locomotives was impractical, so PackSolve used its expertise in Heatshrink wrapping to safeguard the train for transportation.
● Working closely with the logistics and rigging crews, the trains were wrapped and ready within 5 days.
● An industry leader in packaging solutions across mining, food, manufacturing and many more sectors, PackSolve’s skills, R&D and operational excellence could deliver the wrapping project ahead of customer expectations.
By wrapping five 120 tonne locomotives for export, PackSolve again shows why it is a leader in the industrial packaging space.
Shipping a locomotive is no small feat. Weighing over a hundred tonnes, the locomotive must be protected from the elements it will be exposed to during a sea voyage. In addition to this, any exported item must be protected. Yet packing a locomotive in a timber crate is impractical as well as expensive, adds weight and complicates logistics.
PackSolve was approached to help package five refurbished locomotives destined for Australia. The customer required something more innovative than crating and PackSolve’s services were recommended. With over two decades of industrial packaging experience under its belt, including solutions for mining, Steel, Power sectors & export projects, PackSolve is perfectly positioned to resolve this specific issue.
“The customer wanted an alternative to crating, so we recommended using the power shrink method,” said PackSolve’s Jay Smuts. “The machinery is covered with a volatile corrosion inhibitor or VCI plastic that is then moulded to the shape of the locomotive. VCI is designed to reduce chemical and other interactions between the locomotive and external elements such as seawater. We’ve used this technique countless times on other types of heavy machinery, so we could scale and adapt to the locomotives.”
Every 120 tonnes,13x3x3 metre locomotive was wrapped comprehensively. But this creates a specific challenge: normally any lifting requirements would be handled by a crate. But there is no crate here to attach rigging to. Additionally, the locomotives were separated from the bogies – the wheelbases – and would be lifted back onto these in the final shipping position.
PackSolve tapped its close relationships with rigging crews and experience in this area to strategically install zipped hatches in the Heatshrink plastic, exposing lifting components. This enabled the riggers to easily attach cables and chains without damaging the wrapping.
Similar care was taken inside the locomotives. Open vents and sensitive areas were covered to ensure maximum protection. All of this was done in collaboration with the customer – the logistics firm shipping the locomotives – their riggers and the owners of the locomotives. Coordination was key: at times the 120-tonne locomotives had to be lifted and manoeuvred during the wrapping process.
There is no manual for this type of job. Many of the processes were developed by PackSolve, which supports extensive R&D in many packaging areas including heavy wrapping. Its teams applied their experience in terms of best practice as well as international standards. This helped considerably, as they only had a few days to complete the job. Starting on a Friday, all five locomotives were ready to be shipped by the following Tuesday.
“The team did an exceptional job,” said Ryan James, Group Sales Manager at PackSolve. “But that’s the PackSolve culture. We support innovation, development, training, teamwork and collaboration. These are part of our strategic pillars. So, when a big and bespoke job like this arrives, we are ready to apply our knowledge and deliver the best solution for everyone. It also shows how the wider PackSolve culture works: our people are skilled and trained, we have rigorous health & safety and medical cover, our operations could ensure the right components were involved and our client service assigned the right people to the job.”
This project doesn’t simply demonstrate that PackSolve can wrap locomotives, which is a technical achievement in its own right. It shows how the PackSolve family is experienced and ready to tackle any major packaging job. From fruit juice drums to crating industrial gearboxes to wrapping locomotives for export, PackSolve’s investment in its people, processes and technology gets the job done.