Transporting a Production Line to Russia. The Devil Sits in the Detail.

Jeroen de Ryck
Jeroen de Ryck

Transporting a complete air separation plant, consisting of several large 85-ton oversized units and over 50 standard and oversized truckloads of parts and materials from 4 different countries via road and ocean to Moglino in Russia. A complex project, but just a regular day’s work for the Ahlers’ projects and machinery business unit.

Planning and Organization

The receiving company in Moglino ordered a complete air separation plant from their supplier in Italy. The entire plant was transported to Moglino, Russia. The parts and materials came from Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Korea. A total volume of about six thousand freight tonnes had to be moved, and over 50 regular and oversized truckloads were engaged to transport the cargo from Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

The largest units leaving the factory in Italy were two cold boxes, where the largest one was 35 meters long, 5,5 meters wide, and 5 meters high. We first transported these cold boxes by road to the Port of Marghera (Venice), leaving for Ust-Luga port in Russia by chartered vessel. Upon arrival at the destination port, these units were reloaded onto trucks and transported to the final Jobsite. Another lot of heavily oversized units were shipped by vessel from Masan, Korea, via Zeebrugge, Belgium, to St. Petersburg, Russia. Upon arrival to St Petersburg, these units were reloaded to trucks and delivered to Moglino, Russia.

Oversized Challenges

Transporting oversized units can be very challenging—the bigger and heavier the cargo, the bigger the challenge. Each route has limitations in terms of the size and weight of the load that can be transported. This can be because of bridges or tunnels, other landmarks or buildings that make it impossible. Most of the oversized cargo was shipped through the Port of St. Petersburg and transported further to Moglino, but this was not an option for the two largest units.

For these units, transporting them from the factory in Italy up to the nearest port was already a challenge. Because of all the required works on the route, such as railway crossings, electrical wire lifting, and removal of street furniture – covering a distance of approximately 250 km took six days. However, the main challenge was the transport on the Russian territory. As previously conducted route survey showed that transport from St Petersburg was not feasible, we found an alternative route using the Port of Ust-Luga. Port of Ust-Luga is mainly a bulk cargo port, so the challenge here was that there was no suitable equipment available to unload the units from the arriving vessel. Ahlers team designed and certified special beams and spreaders, making it possible to handle this cargo safely.

The main hurdle for the remaining leg of these cold boxes was several bridges that needed to be crossed en route to the final job site. The composition of the trailers, together with the cargo, was too heavy to cross these bridges. After an agreement with the relevant transport authorities, certain civil works were done, and whenever the load was too heavy for a bridge, we installed temporary fly-over bridges. This operation was done for three bridges in the Pskov region. To assist with installing these temporary fly-over bridges, suitable cranes were brought to the location, and normal traffic was re-routed for the duration of this operation.  Transporting oversized cargo through Russia poses operational challenges and equally carries legal and procedural challenges. Permits to move oversized units through tunnels, towns, and across bridges require obtaining authorizations from local authorities and infrastructure owners. These are then submitted to the federal authorities for obtaining the final permit for the entire route. Having a local presence with local knowledge helps facilitate this process.

Customs Challenges

Another big challenge for this project was customs-related. The product here was a complete air separation plant. The seller needed to import the plant from various origins to Russia. All paperwork that needed to be submitted to the Russian Customs Authorities was arranged and managed by Ahlers customs specialists.  

For the buyer, it was essential to import the plant as a whole production line because then a zero percent import duty would apply. This means that a classification decision was needed from the Russian Customs Authorities, allowing all components to be imported under 1 HS code. Preparation and application for a classification decision take four to six months and entail a lot of paperwork. The Customs Authority requires an extreme level of detail regarding information about the parts. This ranges from designs of the plant itself to technical details of each smallest component that needs to be imported. Basically, they need to ensure that each component, nut, and bolt is an integral part of the production line.

All this information needed to be submitted to the Customs Authorities while the actual procurement of the parts was still ongoing. With projects as complex as this, the complete list of components is subject to change. For example, parts may be procured from another supplier if one supplier has no parts available. But with the parts list already submitted, you would have to start several additional procedures with the Customs Authorities to update the list of parts for the classification decision. Our team’s extensive knowledge and experience with Russian Customs’ rules and regulations ensured a favourable classification decision. In this specific project, Ahlers took care of the customs process for both the seller and the buyer, making importing into Russia as smooth as possible.     

Why Outsource Your Project Logistics?

If you outsource your project logistics, you can leverage the knowledge and experience of your logistics provider. Especially when exporting to or importing into Russia, local knowledge and expertise are vital.

Having a logistics provider that can also take care of all customs issues decreases the risk of delays or other issues. Having the same provider handle the logistics and the import formalities increases the chances of all shipments arriving without hassle or delay due to customs issues. It helps when one single team has a complete view of the project. 

If you have any questions about project logistics, contact one of our specialists.

Author Bio

Jeroen De Ryck profile

Jeroen de Ryck is Global Business Unit Manager Projects & Machinery at Ahlers. Ahlers provides state-of-the-art logistics support in sustainable supply chain management, warehousing, projects & machinery logistics, secured transport, trade logistics, after-sales services, and data analytics. Their extensive experience and knowledge of local markets make Ahlers your ideal partner for business in China, Russia or the CIS countries.

Header Image provided by Ahlers


This blogpost is sponsored by Ahlers

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