By Tony Ends


BRODHEAD – A pair of 210,000-lb. fermenting tanks made their way out of the west along State Highway 11 Sunday afternoon, Dec. 20.

Taking up both sides of the two-lane highway, they crawled along at about 10 mph, in an entourage of support vehicles and police, and at times a string of traffic backed up or snaking around side roads.

Residents all along the way were out in the inordinately warm winter weather, taking all manner of photos and films of the massive shipment through Wisconsin’s quiet countryside.

On their semi tractor-trailers, each load was just under 150 feet long, more than 26 feet wide, stood 19 feet 8 inches high and weighed more than 474,000 lbs.

“This necessitated detours for traffic because of a total road blockage, use of dollies when crossing bridges, sign removal, moving or cutting power lines and no parking areas along the route,” said Green County Sheriff Mark Rohloff, who took his turn Sunday helping guide the huge rigs through the area.

Edwards Rigging and Moving, based in Shelbyville, Ky., provided logistics for the big move through southern Wisconsin, a feat that can run 6 months to a year in advance for painstaking planning and engineering.

For the huge tanks destined to arrive at the DuPont Industrial Sciences plant in Beloit, the voyage began across the ocean with manufacture by Beotech of China.

“They were loaded on a freighter and shipped from China to the port of New Orleans,” said Danny Cain, a corporate staff member for Edwards, responsible for ensuring safety and managing risk for the move.

Safety of the transporting crew of 13 Edwards primary moving crew, the public, and, of course, the massive tanks rode on Cain’s shoulders.

He’s accustomed to the responsibility. Edwards has been in this business since 1961. It moves all sorts of gigantic loads – transformers, generators, nuclear reactors – for every sort of manufacturer and power plant imaginable, all over the country.

Cain had planned well for DuPont’s Beloit plant fermenters. He had plenty of help on hand, but the transit was not without a few snags en route.

Utility crews lined the route at the ready to lift or take down power lines suspended over Highway 11. Wisconsin State Patrol assigned four troopers to the shipment, and Sheriff’s and Highway Departments in four counties assisted.

Green County highway department supervisor Dick Marty and Commissioner Jeff Unschell helped with the move along Highway 11, too.

It takes a 650-ton crane to lift a load of this size off a barge or flatbed. After coming up the Mississippi River, the pair of tanks were off-loaded at East Dubuque.

“The convoy came into Wisconsin on Highway 80 through Hazel Green and then east on 11,” Rohloff said. “The most trauma was in Gratiot where I understand three utility poles were pulled down from a snagged wire.

“Originally expected in Monroe at 6 p.m. Saturday, they didn’t arrive until about 2 a.m. I’m not sure about traffic congestion in Grant or Lafayette counties, but you can imagine the delays going through the villages with all of the power lines to move.”

After spending the night off-road in Monroe, the journey Sunday was less eventful, though a detour near Juda was required and slowed the journey down.

Arriving safely in Beloit Sunday afternoon, the caravan still had to make it through city streets with more than 30 power line configurations dropped or lifted to let it pass along the way.

Edwards employs a Goldhofer Dual Lane trailer that permits over-the-road routes with bridges that require greater dispersion of heavy loads.  It has a three-point hydraulic loading system designed to protect cargo from stress due to the length of a load. This trailer can also elevate over inclines along any route and then lower for overpasses.

Along with the dual lane trailer, Edwards uses a hydraulic platform trailer and suspension beams to get heavy loads home.

DuPoint acquired Genencor in 2011. One of the world’s largest developers and manufacturers of industrial enzymes, Genencor was in the midst of a $30 million expansion of its Beloit plant that year.