Large-scale haulage requires thorough planning. At Bohnet GmbH, this task is performed by Kevin Knaub. He not only meticulously maps out the routes, but also takes to the steering wheel himself during the nightly journeys.
At Dresden’s river port, a content Kevin Knaub sighs a breath of relief. Strenuous and partially nerve-wrecking days lie behind him, yet his load, a Siemens turbine, has now safely reached its destination. Transporting the 190-tonne turbine from Görlitz to Dresden required three days and involved the deployment of two MAN tractor units – including a new MAN TGX 41.640 with a D38 engine.
Whew! Fortunately, I have not experienced anything like that in my 16 years as a driver. We probably would have had to summon a mobile crane to lift the load over the bridge. Such a massive planning error would have been expensive, however, as well as resulting in quite an image loss for us.
Actually, no. Even though the drive to Dresden is always quite challenging due to tight conditions, we’ve already had even more demanding tours. So far, our longest transport was a distillation column. The entire platoon had a length of about 90 metres and moved via road and ship from Eschweiler via the Netherlands to Ludwigshafen. Planning that took almost a year.
Once we receive confirmation for an assignment, we see about getting the necessary permits from public authorities, inspect the transport cargo on customer premises and trace the authorised route. We use laser and yardstick to check all curve radii and the height of traffic lights and power cables and document and photograph every critical point. And if the curve radius proves insufficient at any given point, we make sure that the edge of the road is gravelled and fortified by steel plates.
I do enjoy doing both, yet I find driving to be more enjoyable. There are corners that evoke headshaking by everyone, accompanied by: “Out of the question.” And then we go ahead and make it possible. That’s what defines this job for me.
Very true, as we are always somewhat considered a traffic hindrance. Many don’t understand why we drive so slowly in some places. Some bridges, for example, must be crossed by our transport at merely five kilometres an hour, for the vibrations could otherwise damage the structure. Alas, most people don’t know that.
Indeed, very much. While we were underway with that distillation column, we even had some 3,000 spectators in a village. There was a tight bend in that place and once we finally made it through that spot, all these people started clapping. You find yourself fighting for an hour in one corner and suddenly thousands of people applaud you. In that moment, I found myself with goose bumps. That was an extraordinarily touching experience.
There are no lone fighters in this line of work. I might have learned how to approach an obstacle up to a distance of merely five centimetres, but I depend on the eyes of my colleagues for the rest. And when one of the crew says it doesn’t fit, that’s how it is. With no room for debate. We are all equals, consult with each other before, during and after the tour. It would not work any other way, and I could never do it alone.
It does so by rendering the necessary performance. In terms of comfort, the vehicle is also completely aligned with the needs of drivers: There is lots of room, with large beds and solid frames. It is essential that we be well rested, as we must drive with total concentration and focus all night long and may never make a single mistake. Our cargo is simply too expensive for error.
I drive heavy transports because I wish to do so. My father already had this job and I lost my heart to this line of work. Obviously, we are on the road a lot and dedicate time that we could otherwise spend with our families. Yet I could not imagine driving the same route every day. I do enjoy the challenge.
Images © Jörg Gläscher