Portugal’s largest heavy-duty haulage operation breaks all records

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A colossal task.

90 metres long, 710 tonnes in weight: this haulage job breaks all records. Heavy-duty haulage specialist LASO Transportes transported two Efacec transformers more than 16 kilometres to the port of Leixões in Portugal. Two Actros vehicles for loads of up to 250 tonnes and an Arocs equally for loads of up to 250 tonnes provided the drive for this show of strength.


Building the two transformers was no trouble for Efacec, the Portuguese specialists for transformer stations, but their transportation was: long before manufacturing began, the company asked LASO Transportes, one of the largest heavy-duty haulage specialists in Europe, whether it was at all possible to get these giants to the port at Leixões, north of Porto, so that they could be shipped from there to the USA.

It was to take eighteen months of planning and building until the convoy measuring 90 metres in length, 6.20 metres in height, 5.90 metres in width and weighing in at 709.6 tonnes could take to the roads.

The route between the Efacec plant in Leça do Balio and Leixões is only 16 kilometres long. That said, without a feasibility study in which traffic signs, street lighting and telephone masts, bends, inclines, roadworks, bridges, lateral inclines, junctions, roundabouts and road analyses (including ground pressure) are taken into account, it’s a no-go.

Not to mention building a new entrance to the port, special permission from the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport and an expert report from the Portuguese Office for infrastructures!

On 3 February 2017 everything is finally ready. Two policemen on motorcycles, a patrol car and members of the Portuguese Road Safety Organisation as well as 30 LASO staff eagerly await the start.



All ready!

9.30 p.m. In front of us stand two Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy-duty haulage tractor units for loads of up to 250 tonnes and a Mercedes-Benz Arocs for loads of up to 250 tonnes, the container for the transformer, 11.30 metres long, 3.90 metres wide and 5.50 metres high, two chassis, each with twelve axles and twelve escort vehicles with staff from LASO, Efacec and the Portuguese police for public safety. Weighing in at almost 710 tonnes, this special convoy is travelling on a total of 228 wheels.

Pedro Marques from LASO Transportes gives the drivers of the two Actros trucks and the Arocs their last instructions: “We’ll stop on the incline to couple the third tractor unit. It will push slowly and as hard as possible from the rear. On bridges, only stop if I give the command to do so.”


With a huge escort.

10 p.m. It stops raining just as the transport operation begins. The motorcycles set off with flashing blue lights. Behind them are three LASO vans bearing the words ‘Convoi exceptionnel’ in large writing (special transport). They will block the traffic on the Via Norte highway in the direction of Maia-Porto.

The first bend – of 90 degrees – requires a combination of slow forward and backward movements. Repeated until the last tractor unit, which until now was pushing, can change the direction of travel and change to the front of the convoy. The second 8x6 Actros is also incorporated as a tractor vehicle. A counterweight ensures that it can also bring its tremendous power on to the road.



Final spurt.

6.00 a.m. After a journey of many hours the convoy reaches the roundabout in the Rua Serpa Pinto road, one of the most difficult sections of the route. Several places only offer a few centimetres tolerance; the team checks the distances incessantly. Then there is another change of direction for the convoy as there is no other way of getting around the roundabout. Experience, complete concentration and visual judgement are essential! The operation takes two hours. Then, at eight in the morning, the transformer finally reaches the port of Leixões – also thanks to the entrance, built specifically for this purpose, via which all heavy-duty haulage operations can be completed from now on.

The tension amongst the LASO staff relaxes perceptibly. They have every right to be proud of their fantastic performance. But everyone knows: next Tuesday they will have to repeat this difficult transport operation. The second transformer is shorter, but somewhat higher and wider. Does that worry a team that had to pull down and rebuild a bridge to complete a transport job? Or a team that transported 525 tonnes along a 140 kilometre route in six nights? Of course not!


“Mercedes-Benz is a reliable partner.”

Paulo Franco, LASO Transportes S.A.



LASO Transportes: Internationally established.

“Thanks to its diverse range of services and transportation types, LASO Transportes S.A. is one of Europe’s largest transportation companies specialising in road haulage,” explains Paulo Franco, managing director of the company. At an international level LASO focuses on special transport operations, particularly in Spain, Mozambique and Morocco. At present LASO boasts a fleet with over 500 trucks and 1000 trailers, including 203 tractor units with a star. Mercedes-Benz “is a reliable partner which provides us with the necessary security to be able to provide the best performance on the market. The vehicles are a complete guarantee for reliability and consumption. Also the service is excellent,” explains Paulo Franco.

With regard to both its market position and its daily business, environmental aspects are a priority for LASO. “For us it is a matter of course that we analyse our fleet with regard to fuel consumption and pollutant emissions. In the light of this, we have decided to only order new vehicles compliant with Euro VI,” the managing director adds.