A 70-ton industrial autoclave meant to be installed at ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Vattiyoorkavu finally reached its destination city on Saturday. It is expected to reach the space centre on Sunday. The vehicle has covered four states in almost a year. A staff member travelling with the cargo told ANI that they started the journey on 8th July 2019 from Maharashtra. They travelled across four states and have finally reached Thiruvananthapuram.
Kerala: A truck, carrying an aerospace horizontal autoclave for delivery to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, reached the city today a year after starting from Maharashtra. Staff say, “Started in July 2019 & travelled across 4 states. Hope to deliver this today” pic.twitter.com/XNaCjXa1C3— ANI (@ANI) July 19, 2020
The cargo has a height and width of 7.5 metres and 6.65 metres respectively. Unique Chemoplant Equipments manufactured it at its Ambarnath factory. The company specializes in heavy-duty industrial machinery. ISRO has paid around nine crores for the equipment that includes transportation. This autoclave is going to be the largest one installed at ISRO’s facility at VSSC. The autoclave can’t be dismantled to be transported in pieces, and had to be transported in a single giant piece.
The difficult yet important journey
The sheer size of the cargo travelling on the 74-wheel Volvo FM heavy-duty truck has caused a lot of trouble while moving it from Nasik to Thiruvananthapuram. A team of 30 staff members comprising of engineers, electricians and other experts facilitated the journey. The vehicle moved at a pace of about 5 KM per day. The local authorities and experts with the cargo worked together to clear the path for the vehicle.
While it was moving, no other vehicle was allowed on the road. At many places, the authorities have to remove tree branches and even remove electricity poles to clear path for the vehicle. At two locations, they had to install iron girders to allow smooth passage over bridges. The journey was halted for about a month when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed on 25th March.
An employee of a private agency that was assigned to shift the autoclave from Nashik to VSSC told HT that lockdown made the movement miserable. The vehicle was stopped in Andhra Pradesh for a month due to lockdown. Their agency had to intervene, but it took a few days to acquire all the permissions.
Purpose of the autoclave
Industrial autoclaves are basically pressurized vessels that play a crucial role in the manufacturing of advanced composites, especially in the aerospace industry. This large cylindrical piece of machinery will enable ISRO to manufacture cost-effective, extensive and light-weight structure needed for satellites and launch vehicles.
Once it reaches ISRO’s facility, it will take another three months to install the autoclave. In this period the engineers at ISRO will integrate it with the electrical systems and controls.