Italian haulage firm Mantoan Trasporti has come a long way in its 100 years of business. While in the early days, it handled the movement of food and household goods by horse and cart, it now relies on the refined horsepower of Scania V8 trucks, specialising in the transportation of exceptional loads of up to 80 tonnes.
Mantoan Trasporti specialises in difficult transport assignments involving heavy loads such as industrial machinery and railway equipment. The most recent major contract – which will keep Mantoan engaged for the next few years – involves transporting the shells of the rail carriages needed to build the latest US high-speed trains.
Empty and unfurnished, the carriages are collected from a production site in Piemonte, and then transported in Mantoan’s distinctive green-and-white trucks across the Alpine border, through France and Belgium, to their final destination: the Port of Zeebrugge. They are then shipped to the US, where they are assembled on arrival at the Port of Baltimore, Maryland.
“Our decision to specialise in transporting exceptional loads was the right move,” says Giordano Mantoan. “That’s how we’ve managed to survive the economic crisis in recent years.
Transporting exceptional loads rely on the power of the V8
Today, Mantoan Trasporti has 60 employees and a fleet of 45 trucks, including 27 Scania vehicles, of which eight are V8s.
“For transport assignments that fall within the associated weight and size limits, we’ll use a Scania truck with an inline six-cylinder 450 horsepower engine,” says Alessandro Mantoan, who is head of logistics and transport. “But we rely on the power of V8 engines when it comes to transporting exceptional loads. To tow the semi-trailers containing railway cars – which aren’t that heavy, just very long – we use two-axle tractor trucks. On the other hand, when the cargo weight surpasses these limits (industrial machinery can weigh over 80 tonnes), we use three-axle trucks.”
A complex journey
Sorin Spiciuc, who is originally from Romania, didn’t have a truck driving license and was only 23 when he started working for Mantoan Trasporti. But today, he is considered one of their most experienced and skilled drivers, particularly when it comes to handling the challenging railway carriage assignments.
“The trip takes an average of four days,” says Spiciuc. “Driving from Italy to France is the shortest leg of the journey, but it’s also the most difficult. Some of the roads we have to use are only a few centimetres broader than our 3.5 metre-wide vehicles.”
A team of two is needed for this precision job: one in the driving seat and one on foot behind the truck-train combination, using a remote controller to steer the axle of the semi-tractor trailer. Whenever they are moving along at a snail’s pace like this with an oversized truck, they are obliged by law to be accompanied by an escort comprising two other vehicles (one ahead of the truck and one behind) to help them overcome any obstacles.
“Every single exceptional transport assignment needs careful planning”
“Once we arrive at the French border, at the Fréjus Road Tunnel, we have to wait there until nightfall, since that’s the only time it’s possible to stop the traffic from passing through the mountain,” says Spiciuc. “We have to do this so that we can drive our truck along the centre of the road and avoid hitting the walls of the tunnel. The trip then involves driving slowly for another 12 kilometres before entering French territory.”
Alessandro Mantoan says the logistics of such assignments are complex. “Every single exceptional transport assignment needs careful planning in order to get the necessary border crossing permits and organise the escorts.”
Scania – a reliable partner
In order to cope with the combination of an exceptional load and challenging road conditions, it’s essential to have reliable partners, Giordano Mantoan points out. “Thanks to the professionalism of our company and the dependability of Scania’s trucks, we can manage the challenges we face without any problem.
“Scania trucks have always been our number-one choice. Our drivers appreciate the Next Generation vehicles for their comfort and power. And we, the owners of the trucks, also appreciate them for their robustness and improved fuel efficiency. Scania trucks are the heart and soul of our company.”