Logistics provider BNSF and engineering/design firm Energo have developed fixtures that will help facilitate the transport of wind turbine components by rail and by ship.
According to BNSF, the Blade Runner transport fixtures greatly increase efficiency and drive down logistics costs when moving wind turbines. The fixtures are universal and can be used in rail or ocean transport, the company says.
Using the same technology for ocean or rail transportation will allow blades to move without the need for attached fixtures, which have historically been expensive and difficult to manage.
According to BNSF, the universal rail fixtures are designed to handle blades of all sizes, including increasingly longer blades inside the clearance windows required, making rail a viable option when compared with over-the-road trucking.
Product testing has demonstrated efficiency improvements over existing configurations, the company says.
Multiple rail tests on 45-meter blades at the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, showed a 35% improvement of clearance envelope, making rail a viable mode choice for almost any North American destination, BNSF notes. Subsequent longer route tests at speed demonstrated superior ride quality with less stress and G-forces borne by the blades when compared to current technologies.
Additionally, the ocean blade stowage design will allow the company to significantly increase the number of blades that are carried per ship.
Testing for the ocean bulk ship blade stowage was done at the Port of Houston. A land-based test of the ocean system demonstrated the nesting capability, which will allow for improved load factor for international transport. BNSF Logistics expects the new system to improve stowage rates by at least 25% over existing configurations.