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My First Project Cargo: Importing A Tunnel Boring Machine From Canada

ICE Stories


From dropping the cargo onto the wharf to saving thousands of dollars in tax duty for the client. ICE’s Melbourne Director and Branch Manager, John Mangiafico, shares the successes and challenges in handling his first project cargo at ICE, in 1993.

My first project undertaking at International Cargo Express involved the importation of a LOVAT tunnel boring machine. This endeavour was made possible through the collaboration of Trans Urban, who facilitated the purchase of the equipment in Canada, and our team at ICE, in conjunction with our Canadian partners.

A crucial element in our success was the early notification of the shipment. This allowed our customs clearance agents to swiftly apply for a tariff advisory with Australian Customs, which, in turn, yielded a favourable response confirming that the items could be imported duty-free. This initiative resulted in significant cost savings for Trans Urban, eliminating the 5% duty.

The arrival of the equipment took place on mafi-trailers transported by a break bulk vessel. Given the substantial size and weight of the machinery, we engaged a 100-tonne crane to be positioned at the wharf, enabling the transfer of the items from the mafis to the low loaders.

The subsequent journey to Laverton via the low loaders necessitated meticulous preplanning, as securing road permits and escort vehicles was mandatory for the safe transport of this equipment.

However, our journey was not without its challenges, and unexpected obstacles arose during the execution of our plan. At the wharf, as the stevedores were preparing to move the equipment from the mafis to the transport vehicle, they inadvertently removed the lashing equipment. Compounded by the uneven ground, the main head of the tunnel boring machine toppled and struck the ground. Thankfully, no injuries occurred, but the incident raised concerns about potential damage to the internal mechanism. In response, we had to pivot, arranging for a surveyor to inspect the site and equipment, and prepare a detailed report for all stakeholders. Remarkably, the item underwent a thorough inspection by technicians, revealing no apparent damage or issues.

We were appreciative of the rapid resolution and turnaround in this unforeseen situation.

Both the shipper and consignee expressed their delight at the timely delivery of the tunnel boring machine and its subsequent successful use in their projects.

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