Transporting cable drums: so that energy flows smoothly

Electricity from wind power is a renewable source of energy and is therefore one of the most important elements for sustainable energy supplies. Transporting cable drums plays an important role in this process. For cable drums are an important part of the infrastructure for transporting the power from the place where it is generated on land or out at sea to its final destination. We explain what needs to be considered in logistical terms when transporting components that are extremely heavy.

Transporting cable drums: so that energy flows smoothly

Geothermal, hydroelectric, solar and wind power are all examples of renewable sources of energy, which are increasingly set to replace fossil fuels in the future. Logistics plays a key role to enable the completion of projects like wind farms and power lines. This is because of the enormous volumes needing to be transported: Extremely heavy, long and bulky components like rotor blades, cable drums and generators have to be conveyed from A to B. Transporting heavy-duty or hazardous goods, items with huge dimensions for installation purposes or complex systems automatically trigger a large number of challenges. Storage areas must be available, materials or cranes need to be sourced and it is necessary to obtain permits for special transport operations that include unusual lists of requirements. It is essential for companies to provide intelligent transport solutions and enable a combination of different means of transport. Logistics specialists play a key role in this process because they ensure that the infrastructure required to expand the use of renewable energy sources is transported and installed reliably and efficiently.

Best practice example: transporting cable drums for SuedOstLink

A number of domestic and international projects are facing up to the challenge of the energy revolution. They include, for instance, the planned SuedOstLink power line, which is designed to transport electricity over a length of 780 and 540 kilometers from north-eastern Germany – to be more precise, from the grid connection points at Klein Rogahn near Schwerin in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Wolmirstedt in Saxony-Anhalt – to a site near Landshut in Bavaria through underground cables. Firstly, this is necessary because large, conventional power plants are gradually being shut down in the south of the country. Secondly, Germany is aiming to primarily use electricity from regenerative sources by 2050 as part of the energy revolution.

In this project, DC underground cables will ensure that the electricity is able to flow at all. The Rhenus Group has been handling the multimodal transport operations for the cable drums for this construction project. You can read in our Case Study how we have delivered 280 cable drums, each weighing 85 tons, from France to Germany.

The ingredients for successfully transporting cable drums

Cable drums, which carry the heavy and bulky coils for cables, are crucial items of cargo when building power lines and they create a wide variety of logistical challenges. They have to be transported precisely and safely over large distances and in difficult conditions. Transporting them involves using specialist vehicles like heavy-duty trucks and specially configured trailers to support their weight – and careful route planning is also necessary to avoid any obstacles. To minimize environmental pollution and maximize efficiency, multimodal transport solutions are used, which include transport by railroad and ship.

Using the latest technology plays a critical role in the efficiency and safety of the transport operations. Advanced tracking and management systems make it possible to monitor the services at any time and provide real-time data about the location, the condition of the consignment and the probable arrival times.

Successfully handling these kinds of major projects requires intensive cooperation between energy corporations, building firms, local authorities and an established network of subcontractors and partners, which make available additional expertise and resources. Interim storage at so-called “intermediate storage places” makes it possible to assemble the cargo before dispatching it on its final journey. The large number of players involved and the complexity of the individual stages create special challenges for the planning work, but collectively they make a crucial contribution to the success of the project.


Check list: how to transport cable drums

  1. Preparing the transport operation
    Check the infrastructure: It is necessary to ensure that the port sites and other transshipment points used are suitable for transporting heavy and bulky cable drums.
    Make available the machinery: The special equipment required, like mobile cranes to load the cable drums, must be made available.
  2. Completing the transport operation
    Loading process: The process for loading the cable drums on the different means of transport should be carefully planned – and suitable lifting equipment must be used.
    Plan the transport routes: A detailed transport route should be prepared, taking into consideration the geographical and infrastructure conditions.
  3. Monitoring and safety
    Comply with safety standards: The transport route and all the transshipment points have to be monitored during the transport operation in order to guarantee the highest safety and environmental standards.
    Risk management: Measures must be adopted to minimize the risk caused by outside incidents like strikes or geopolitical changes.
  4. Time management and coordination
    Set transit times: Precise transit times must be set and followed to optimize the supply chains.
    Communications and coordination: A continual flow of information between all those involved must be maintained to guarantee smooth operations.
  5. Handling challenges
    Flexibility in the face of natural phenomena: It is necessary to prepare for challenges like low water levels by using vessels with a shallow draft, for example.
    Handle any challenges that occur in a flexible manner: Flexible plans must be developed to cope with unexpected problems and delays in order to still meet the project goals.
  6. Forward-looking planning and scalability
    Planning for future projects: Preparation work for future expansion and new projects should take place by scaling the logistical capacities and resources.
    Innovations and using technology: Using the latest technologies for tracking and controlling the transport operations is necessary to continually improve the process efficiency.

Green Power to Bavaria: SuedOstLink and 85-Ton Cable Drum Transportation

Conclusion: transporting cable drums as a complete solution

Transporting cable drums requires a well-conceived combination of the right route, suitable means of transport and specialist equipment. A competent logistics specialist, which focuses exactly on the specifications of the cargo and the needs of its customer, is crucial here. The greatest priority involves ensuring that the cable drums arrive at their destination on time, in an undamaged state so that the customer is relieved of any concerns. Transporting cable drums is more than just a logistical challenge – it is a major factor in the energy revolution process to create energy systems. By optimizing the transport routes, reducing emissions and creating efficient logistics processes, these transport operations are making a significant contribution to achieving climate goals and ensuring a sustainable future for energy.

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