When things get heavy

The logistics of the heavyweight load.

We enjoyed the recent story about a commercial airline having to lay on an extra flight to account for the extra weight of a posse of travelling Sumo wrestlers.

It was like a little snapshot of the sort of calculations that people in logistics have to make every day. Whether air, land, sea or rail, if something’s too heavy then there will be problems!

Fortunately, logistics engineers and transport planners are VERY smart cookies. To them, the seemingly impossible is but a challenge.

Which is why history is littered with instances of quite ridiculous feats of transportation; stuff that makes you want to say ‘no, they didn’t’.

But they did. Because that’s the thing with logistics, it does.

So, in that spirit, we thought we’d give a little shine to some of those achievements, past and present.

Naturally, we’ve converted all weights back into ‘Sumo’ for context. Because, y’know, why not?

Statue of Liberty

200,000 kg

Shipped by sea from Paris to NYC.

Approx. 1667 Sumos!

As statues go, this one is kind of a big deal. You may have heard of it. Gifted by France to the US all the way back in 1885, it had to be split into 350 separate pieces, packed into crates and then shipped across the Atlantic on the French ship Isere. Then it was just the small matter of putting all the pieces back together again.

Space Shuttle Endeavour

78,000 kg

Shipped by road in California.

Approx. 650 Sumos!

There’s something very fun about the idea of watching a piece of era-defining technological advancement designed to be blasted spacewards at ridiculous speed… having to be escorted veeeery slowly along California highways on the back of a truck. The shuttle took up six lanes of traffic (which wouldn’t really work, in say, Slough) and, because of the crowds that lined the roads to watch, it became half logistical marvel, half Disney parade.


Oil Rig

24,000,000 kg

Shipped by sea from the North Sea to Hartlepool.

Approx. 200,000 Sumos!

Actually this was only half an oil rig (the top bit), but nonetheless, it was HEAVY. The Brent Delta rig in the North Sea had been decommissioned and somehow needed to get to the Port of Hartlepool. The solution? Something even heavier. Cue the Allseas Pioneering Spirit, a vessel as long as six jumbo jets, and weighing 403,342 tonnes (that’s 336,118 Sumo wrestlers to you or I). Needless to say, it got the job done, no bother.


A MASSIVE boulder

308,000 kg

Shipped by road for a US art installation.

Approx. 2,567 Sumos!

I know what you’re thinking – why are you trying to move a big rock, anyway? Duh, for ART!! This boulder needed to get from Riverside County, CA to Los Angeles County Museum of Art for an installation called ‘Levitating Mass’. It took a WEEK, driving at no more than 10mph on a truck with 176(!) wheels. And then they made it levitate.*

*That last bit may not be factual. But is it any more impossible sounding than moving a boulder that big?