Liebherr Mining Equipment SAS, France is shifting its global export shipments via the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge from road transport to inland navigation
The Liebherr Mining Equipment plant in France is in Colmar, close to the River Rhine. The plant produces heavy duty hydraulic dredgers, which can have an assembled weight from 100 tons to 800 tons, and dump trucks weighing up to 180 tons, for the mining industry. These machinery parts can be up to 19m long, 5m wide and 4m tall, and weigh around 100 tons.
Annually around 1000 machines leave the factory for Antwerp and Zeebrugge, for shipping to global markets, in Australia, Africa, Asia, etc. Heavy duty, multi-axle low loaders and ad hoc permits are required for road transport.
A detailed study, partly financed by French Waterways (VNF - Voies Navigables de France) under its PARM (aids to modal shift aid) plan, shows the advantages of inland navigation.
In a 3-month trial, 40 machines weighing an aggregate 7,000 tons and totaling 375 packages were moved by barges, saving an estimated 134,000 road kms and 240 tons of CO2E.
It has been shown that inland navigation is not only more environment-friendly, but also safer and more cost-effective. According to VNF, in a full year 800 truck loads can be replaced by 47 barge loads.
Zeebrugge cannot be accessed by inland navigation, unless barges are sea-going. It is not clear whether Zeebrugge is still served by road from Colmar, or partly by road from Antwerp.