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Concrete pumper leaves Hartsfield-Jackson for Japan

Special Photo
A 95-plus-ton Putzmeister 70Z-Meter concrete pumper truck is loaded into a Volga-Dnepr Group Antonov AN-124 cargo aircraft, at Hartsfield-Jackson. The truck was headed to Japan, to assist in efforts at the damaged nuclear power plant.

Special Photo A 95-plus-ton Putzmeister 70Z-Meter concrete pumper truck is loaded into a Volga-Dnepr Group Antonov AN-124 cargo aircraft, at Hartsfield-Jackson. The truck was headed to Japan, to assist in efforts at the damaged nuclear power plant.

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

marauz@news-daily.com

The largest truck-mounted boom on the market was recently delivered by the world's largest manufactured cargo airplane, from the world's busiest airport, according to Dave Adams, president and CEO of Putzmeister America, Inc.

A 95-plus-ton Putzmeister 70Z-Meter concrete pumper truck, last week, departed Hartsfield-Jackson via an Antonov AN-124 cargo aircraft from Volga-Dnepr Group, said Adams. The truck was headed to Japan to assist in the disaster-relief efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. The plant was crippled by last month's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami.

Warren Jones, aviation development manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, explained that the truck was loaded onto the cargo aircraft on April 8, and left Atlanta's airport on April 9, at 7 a.m., headed for Tokyo. The truck was to be driven from Tokyo to the accident site, he explained.

The truck has a 70-meter boom and can pump up to 210 cubic yards of concrete per hour, explained Jones.

"With its capabilities, it's ideally situated for the assistance in Japan," said Jones.

Though the airport has moved large shipments on various occasions, it has never moved something as heavy as the truck, and in one single piece, said Jones.

"This is the largest piece of freight, weight wise, we've moved out of Atlanta from our records ... We're just happy we are able to assist them [Japan] in their time of need," he said.

Adams added that Putzmeister America feels hopeful that its piece of equipment will be used to better the situation at the nuclear reactor site in Japan.

Training for operators that will handle the boom truck is occurring now and will proceed the following week, he said. The truck should be placed at the job site soon after.

It took about 48 hours to get the equipment from Atlanta's airport to Tokyo, due to the 180,000-pound load. Three refueling stops were needed to get the truck to the large island.

Adams said the Georgia Department of Transportation assisted his company in getting the equipment to Hartsfield-Jackson, from South Carolina, by providing them with a route the heavy truck could navigate. It was an eight-hour drive, he explained.

"A machine like this would have to be taken apart, typically, to lighten the load to go across bridges and other roads that are limited ... Georgia [Department of Transportation] helped us find a route to drive it from South Carolina to here, without taking it apart," he explained.

He said about three weeks ago, the machine was pumping concrete at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Adams said a shipment of a piece of equipment as large as the boom truck is normally unheard of and is a large expense. Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc., which is overseeing operations at the reactor site, is paying for the cost of the machine and its transportation.

"A lot of people wonder about the cost of the machine, [and] it's a lot of variables," he said. "I'll just say it's over $2 million."

The president and CEO said the company knew its equipment was going to be effective for the operation, because of its 70-meter boom, which almost covers the length of a football field. The boom is typically used to place concrete, and not to shoot water, which the power company began using in an effort to cool the reactor after the disaster.

"But it can pump water just as effective," he said. "In fact, it can pump water at three times the rate of most fire trucks and it has a boom that is very flexible ... an articulated boom that can be used in the right shape to put the water right where they need it."

Putzmeister America contacted Tokyo Electric Power Company, to see if it would try one of its boom trucks, said Adams. The power company agreed and a 58-meter boom truck, originally headed to Vietnam, was redirected and sent on a boat to Japan, he said.

"Within two days it was pumping water and doing the job and that's when they decided they needed more," said Adams. "They needed units like that, only bigger."

Adams said the Putzmeister 70Z-Meter concrete pumper truck is the biggest in the world. Putzmeister only has three trucks of this kind, which are all located in the U.S. The company is sending two of these trucks to Japan -- the one from Atlanta's airport and the other departing from Los Angeles International Airport, he said.

In addition, Putzmeister Germany, the parent company of Putzmeister America, will send two 62-meter truck mounted concrete pumps by air, he said. One truck was sent about two weeks ago, he explained.

The site at the nuclear power station will eventually have a total of five boom trucks.

"I think because of the duration of the activity that will be taking place there, we won't expect it to come back," said Adams.