LIBERTY Ostrava is now the proud owner of one of Europe’s longest vehicles, which is more than 25 metres long, all so that it can better support its customers across Europe. The steelworks has been trialling a new Tatra vehicle since October to transport 24 metre long threaded bars, far too long for normal vehicles. The vehicle is the longest in the history of the Koprivnice-based Tatra vehicle maker. The special Tatra undercarriage was further developed by another regional company, Partner Ipex, according to its own specialist technical design.
The need for a special vehicle arose in the Ostrava mill when it was decided early last year to transfer the finishing section of the threaded bars and their accessories from Luxembourg to Ostrava. The move was part of the plant’s decision to increase its production of added-value products. The vehicle, along with other technologies such as special saws, was part of an investment to enable the Ostrava mill to carry out threaded bars finishing.
Bars of the final length reaching up to 24.2 m are rolled at the Medium Section Mill. They can now also be processed further at the Threaded Bars Service Centre of the Ostrava mill. The plant ordered a unique vehicle for their transport between these two operations because standard trucks are only able to carry products with a maximum length of 16 meters. The final products will continue to be transported to customers by rail.
The unique vehicle is 25.3 m long and is equipped with a 300 kW Tatra engine and an Allison automatic gearbox. Partner Ipex has added an extra axle to the original six axles of the Tatra’s undercarriage model Tatra Force, which is used primarily for vehicles used in mining and by integrated rescue forces. This means the vehicle now has the required total load capacity of 70 tonne, while during the trial loads of 50 tonnes were achieved. The vehicle has a license plate and complies with all traffic code parameters but it is not expected to drive outside the Ostrava plant premises.
The adjustments carried out by Partner Ipex from Frenštát pod Radhoštěm took about ten months to complete despite the difficulties caused by COVID -19 and the unstable situation in the automotive sector. Like the undercarriage and the adjustments, most of the sub-deliveries of the required components were provided by manufacturers from the Moravian-Silesian region.
The mill searched for an experienced driver for this exceptionally long vehicle for more than six months before finding Jiří Soldán, who had previously worked as a driver of special military vehicles in the Czech Army. Jiří liked the opportunity to sit down behind the wheel of the world‘s longest Tatra truck.
“It is a challenge to drive such a vehicle. I have had to drive through the mill a couple of times to find the way I can easily go through. I have to remember that the rear part could get out of the road when making a wider turn. It gives me a hard time when I need to go past the waiting cars at the dispatch area. But thanks to the five controlled axles this giant is surprisingly easy to control,” said Jiří Soldán.
Top picture shows driver Jiří Soldán with the 25m truck.