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SMART machinery arriving daily

Many motorists may have noticed that rather large shipments have been arriving at Luverne's SMART plant, as part of more than 120 trucks trek toward the plant. The shipments are to bring all of the pieces of the stamping and pressing machinery to the facility, with most of them coming from South Korea.

Mike Farnick, president and owner of Power Press Sales, located in Detroit, Mich, is supervising the pressing machinery delivery and assembly.

"I'm actually serving here at SMART as a stamping press consultant," Farnick said. "It is my job to see to it that the presses are assembled properly, and efficiently."

Most of the shipments are coming to the facility via tractor-trailer combinations that are larger than many Crenshaw Countians have ever seen.

"Our biggest shipment will be coming in on a trailer with 30 axles, each containing eight wheels," Farnick said. "We have had to use combinations of 50-ton fork lifts and 90-ton cranes to lift them from the trailers."

The overhead cranes, according to Farnick, have come to SMART from DeShazo Cranes, out of Alabaster.

"The cranes from DeShazo will be here long enough to load and position the stamping line equipment," he said. "This facility will have three major stamping lines. One press here will weigh approximately 700,000 tons when fully assembled. There will be four of these presses in the plant.

"We will also be assembling two state-of-the-art transfer presses, that will weigh approximately two million lbs. each - pieces of them are already arriving," he said. "These pieces that have arrived have been being built for more than a year now, and the entire line of machinery was full assembled and tested in Korea before it was disassembled, crated and shipped by sea to the Port of Mobile.

Farnick, who said until he came to the SMART facility, never had experiences with red clay dirt, said there are definitely differences in how shipments take place.

"We have had to work extra in smoothing the roadway out around this plant, so that the trucks with the heavy machinery loaded on them can travel without losing their loads," he said. "They all have trailers that are low to the ground, and with that much weight on them, they torque and shift from side-to-side easily."

As this story goes to press, Farnick called the Luverne Journal on Tuesday to say that the largest piece of equipment was docking at Burkeville, on the Alabama River today (Wednesday). We plan to cover the shipment of this 200,000-ton piece, which will take a trailer 22 feet in width and two tractors more than six hours to make the nearly 50 miles it must travel on the road to get to SMART. The payload of the barge will begin to be offloaded on Thursday, and the shipment is scheduled to be made on Friday.

"The thing about the largest of these trucks is that they can only be shipped during the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.," Farnick said. "That's because the trucks hauling them can only travel at 15 miles per hour at top speed, and those are the hours of least traffic on the roadways."

So when you see these slow-moving vehicles on the road, do not get discouraged, think instead of all the jobs they are bringing into Crenshaw County.