Load-in & load-out
Mammoet safely transports and installs six transformers in a deep cave for a hydro-electric power station in Kafue Gorge, Zambia.
Mammoet has successfully completed the transport and installation of six new transformers down a 1.2-kilometer-deep cave for the Kafue Gorge Upper hydro-electric Project in Zambia. By ensuring on-time delivery, Mammoet helped the power station to keep running whilst the old transformers were replaced and moved out one after the other. The hydroelectric power plant, run by the Zambian state-owned Zesco electricity company, supplies around 40% of Zambia’s power capacity. This is an essential facility to help meet Zambia’s increasing power demand.
Mammoet had already transported and installed the first four out of a total of ten new transformers back in 2012. In 2015, Mammoet also won the next contract to transport and install the following six new transformers. In total Mammoet transported and installed ten new transformers and moved ten old transformers out of the powerhouse inside the cave. Our experience in this part of the world and with the first project enabled us to optimize the transport route from the Netherlands to Zambia – ensuring on-time delivery and safe transport and handling through multiple handover points.
Mammoet collected the transformers at the manufacturing facility of Royal Smit Transformers in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and transported them on a barge to the port of Antwerp. The transformers were then handled from a river vessel onto an ocean vessel and taken by sea over 9,000 kilometers to Walvis Bay in Namibia. As we learned from the previous project traveling via Namibia was the most efficient route. The transformers were then transported on conventional trailers using two prime movers over 2,200 kilometers to Kafue Gorge.
Each new transformer weighing 105 tons had to be driven down a 1.2 km-long tunnel inside a cave to the installation area. This road is on a gradient with just a few centimeters clearance above the transformers in some places requiring safe and careful maneuvering. Mammoet reconfigured the trailers to fit the confined space and used two trucks – one at the front to pull and one at the back to push – with Mammoet professionals working in close coordination to safely and securely negotiate the steep slope.
Every two weeks, Royal Smit Transformers did the work to disconnect the old and reconnect the new transformers one at a time – while Mammoet moved them in and out of the powerhouse. The old transformers were loaded and the new transformers were offloaded using an overhead gantry crane. Since working height was very limited inside of the cave, Mammoet designed and fabricated a tailor-made lifting frame – in collaboration with Royal Smit Transformers – to maneuver the transformers into place. After each new transformer had been running for 24 hours without incidents, preparations were started to disconnect and replace the next transformer.