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Vocational Profile: Oversized experts

Jan. 5, 2017
Berard Transportation is up to the task of hauling heavy loads

A 65-ton electrical building needs to be transported from Texas to North Dakota. A 200,000-lb. skid must travel over 80 mi. in Louisiana. Two vessels weighing 250,000 lbs. each and reaching 28 ft. in loaded height need to be transported over public roadways.

What these moves and many more like them have in common is that they were all handled by Berard Transportation, a New Iberia, LA-based heavy hauler with over 70 years of experience in moving and rigging procedures.

“One of the main challenges we face today is the difference in oversize and overweight regulations in different jurisdictions,” Brett Berard, vice president of operations, says. “We understand the need for safe highways, but sometimes federal, state and local regulations are contradictory.”

As an example, Berard cites a recent plan to haul an oversize load from Louisiana to North Carolina. “Different regulations in Georgia and Tennessee are not allowing transit,” he says, “so our customer is working on ways to lighten the load.”

Another challenge relates to hours-of-service regulations. “The rules don’t always fit well in our industry,” Berard states. “Some loads have day or night restrictions, so we may have to stop and park for hours until we can continue, and then we may have a situation where the driver can’t get a full rest period. On top of that, there’s almost no parking available for oversize loads, so we often have no safe haven when we’re forced to stop.”

In some cases, Berard notes, law enforcement escorts can override rules, but that is not always the case. “And there is a gray area when it comes to federal regulations,” he adds, “so different interpretations of the rules can add to the challenges of legally handling oversize loads.”

Highway moves handled by Berard Transportation include loads ranging from 160,000 to over 500,000 lbs. The company’s main customers are in the oil, gas and power generation markets.

To haul a variety of oversize loads, the company invests in the latest equipment designed for super-heavy transport. In the fleet are heavy-haul tractors with high horsepower engines, low-range transmissions and planetary drive axles, highly specialized trucks, lowboys, extendable trailers, long load dollies, and conventional flatbeds and drop decks. Berard also owns and operates one of the largest fleets of self-propelled modular transporters in the U.S., including 10-ft.-wide platform models.

Very talented drivers, many with technical expertise in the operation of specialized equipment, and teams as large as 40 people (consisting of escorts, spotters, and maintenance personnel with fully equipped mobile service trucks)  accompany each haul. “Everyone knows our equipment and is fully versed in each aspect of the move,” Berard states. “Behind the scenes, our highly capable in-house maintenance department makes sure every piece of equipment is serviced and ready to go.”

The planning and survey stages required for many of Berard Transportation’s loads can range from as few as eight weeks for shorter moves without excessive height concerns to as long as one year for larger moves with major route and traffic implications. Complicating matters are permit requirements and changing regulations and costs.

“This work is definitely challenging,” Berard says. “With our experience and dependable equipment, though, we can carry out every project in a safe and timely manner, so it’s also very rewarding.”

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