Large Power Transformers (LPT) are large in dimension, and heavy in weight. They can cost millions of dollars and weigh between 100 to 400 tons. For example a 765 kV, 750 MVA, three phase transformer with size 56 ft (W) x 40 ft (L) x 45 ft (H) can weigh 410 tons They pose unique requirements to ensure safe and efficient transportation. Hence the weight and dimension of large power transformers need careful planning and the critical transportation aspect should be kept in mind.
Power transformers can be transported by rail, road, air and sea route. Depending on the size of the transformer unit and on the route and transport conditions, a transformer may be transported completely or partially assembled. LPTs have to be transported with bushings, conservator, cooling arrangements and all other minor accessories removed. If the transformer tank has been drained for transportation, it is necessary that the oil should be replaced by dry air or nitrogen maintained at a slightly positive pressure above the atmosphere. This ensures the dryness of the winding during the entire transportation.
Large power transformers cannot be transported on normal rail cars. The heaviest load a rail-road normally carries is 100 tons whereas the LPT can be 4 times of that weight. A specialized rail-road car called Schnabel car, is used to transport extremely heavy loads. Some LPT are designed and made as an integral part of the Schnabel car. The transformer is designed so that it can be attached to rail car frames with the help of a pinning system. These cars may have 20 or more axles depending on the weight of the transformer to be transported.
When LPTs are to be transported via road, special permits are also required from various government agencies. Before issuing these special permits, careful inspection of the entire route through which the transformer has to pass, is carried out. Inspection of bridges and their load bearing capacity are of prime importance while issuing such permissions. Hasty permits may lead to serious accidents as one happened in Madhya Pradesh in year 2011, in which a huge trailer carrying a 380 ton power plant equipment on Sagar-Bhopal road was washed away when the bridge through which the consignment was passing collapsed due to the heavy weight killing at least 3 persons and damaging the power plant equipment.