Michele Marraffa interview
Exceptional transport in ports
Exceptional transport in ports
Michele Marraffa, Founder of Marraffa Trasporti Srl and his son Giovanni, Project Manager of the same company.
I am Michele Marraffa, founder of the present Marraffa srl, which was created in 1977.
As soon as I completed my diploma as an industrial expert, among other studies here at the “Augusto Righi” here in Taranto, my passion was lorries, so I bought a lorry, which I looked-after jealously, and I started working in transportation.
We were always very attentive to what the market needed, and tried to take advantage of this, up to the point where we reached the level of “exceptional transportation”, where we could handle 1,100-1,200 tonnes of goods on our self-propelled vehicles.
So it really has been a continuous growth.
We provide a lot of training for our freelance contractors, and we don’t have employees or workers, we only have contractors.
If we find the right contractor and we have the right machine, then we can take on the insurmountable.
The work has changed enormously: no, there’s no comparison at all.
In 1977, I used to drive a vehicle without power steering, but nowadays it’s unthinkable – vehicles are really, how can I put it? Luxurious, like lounges.
But that’s not all, there’s a technology… We can handle… we handled a platform of almost 700 tons in the port of Taranto with simple joysticks, so it’s an enormous evolution.
But the harness itself: the cables to lift hundreds of tonnes in the past had to be of enormous dimensions.
Today we are talking about (minimum) dimensions because the steel has also evolved massively, all the technology has evolved.
You can harness loads in total safety because you go up with the platforms.
And one of the primary objectives where we put in a lot of work is attention to safety standards.
My name is Giovanni Marraffa and together with my brother Pasquale, I am part of the second generation of our company, Marraffa srl.
The big challenge ahead for us is to be able to use new technologies to be able to travel on the same roads that we’ve had for decades.
What does it mean “to be able to drive”?
It means being able to distribute the weight of the product over several sets of axles.
The axles are basically the wheels that you see underneath the trucks, utilising a type of axle that is described as “hydraulic”, so the weight per axle is distributed equally over the whole truck.
In fact, these are not even trucks any more – we use a technology called SPMT, so they are really motorised trailers.
The acronym means that the trailer itself is motorised, and therefore has a completely different traction from traditional trucks, which are towed by a motive force.
A few months ago in the port of Taranto, on the Polisettoriale quay, we handled two 700-tonne oil platforms.
To give you an idea of the scale, a fully loaded lorry travels at a weight of 44 tonnes, so 700 tonnes is the same as if we had moved 15 or more lorries at once.
We transported these two platforms using motorised trailers, these Self Propelled Modular Trailers, which can be raised and lowered hydraulically.
So, with this technology we were able to self-load the two platforms from the quayside and transport them individually under the ship’s cargo derricks.
With two 700-tonne derricks we loaded these two platforms onto the ship.
They were destined to complete the Eni Offshore jetty, at that time off the port of Taranto.
We started in the port of Taranto around 2012-2013.
In 2014 we carried out the most important transportation job of our working and corporate lives, probably still the most significant to date.
At the time there was a huge order which had to be shipped, placed by Modomec and Belleli.
The biggest piece was 70 metres in length, nine metres in diameter, and weighed 500 tonnes, to be taken from near Massafra to the port of Taranto.
It was something really unthinkable for us before then.
Just consider that there were almost 9,000 tonnes of iron sitting here in the province of Taranto, needing to be loaded in the port of Taranto.
Otherwise, if we had not confirmed the feasibility of that shipment, it would surely have gone abroad and therefore we would have lost the contract at that time – we are talking about 2014 when the loading took place, so the work started two years before, two years before the actual transportation.
That exceptional transportation was something special, really special, and I think it took a few years off our lives; for me, for the family, for the operators, because until it departed, and until we arrived in the port and the ship’s cranes finally lifted it up, we didn’t hold our breath but really… we were living with a knot in our stomachs for several months, but when the ship had it harnessed securely, I felt almost like I was lifted 10 metres in the air.
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