Logistics for University of Vienna's elephant research program in South Africa

Large, heavy and above all sensitive. Logwin transported a special loudspeaker by air freight to South Africa for a research project

Aschaffenburg/Vienna – Elephants can communicate even over great distances using acoustic signals that are inaudible to the human ear. In order to investigate this form of communication more closely, the University of Vienna has had a special loudspeaker built – in supersize format. From August onwards it will be based in Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa, where it will send out low-frequency sounds of other elephants in order to observe the reactions of members of the species. Logwin transported the highly sensitive equipment to the elephants over several legs by truck and aircraft – and ensured that the high demands placed on protective measures were observed over the entire journey.

Project leader Dr Angela Stöger and PhD student Anton Baotic are conducting the University of Vienna's elephant project as biologists and animal communications researchers. Anton Baotic was in charge of the elaborate arrangements for the loudspeaker's transportation, which required him to grapple with an exotic and yet fascinating subject: logistics. Since the special loudspeaker was too large for simple parcel shipment, Anton Baotic was forced to look for a different means of transportation to South Africa and so he searched for service providers who could help him. "It was important from the outset to have good and competent advice," the scientist says. "My contact at Logwin told me about special transport projects for very large and heavy objects. The fact that Logwin has gathered so much experience with similar projects won me over."

The logistics service provider worked together with the scientist to develop a transport plan. The loudspeaker was taken as air freight from Vienna to Port Elizabeth, from where the journey now continues by truck to the national park. However, the loudspeaker had to make an intermediate stop for protective purposes before it went on board the aircraft.


Large device for low-pitched sounds

The so-called subwoofer weighs 200 kilograms and its longest side measures 1.73 meters. "What is special about the loudspeaker is not its size or its weight – it is also highly sensitive," says Sales Manager Manuel Gramann, who is responsible for the project at Logwin. "It mustn't be turned on its head or exposed to excessive vibration." This is why Logwin first took the loudspeaker from the university to a packaging company, where it was inserted into a special custom-fit wooden case. A protection device was fitted to the exterior to allow subsequent checks to be made on whether the consignment had been handled as per instructions. Everything would be OK provided the indicator field did not turn red. Logwin remained in close contact with the airline prior to departure to ensure that everything would run as planned. Everyone involved in ground handling ultimately had to be familiar with the protection requirements for the sensitive freight.

Besides the loudspeaker, Logwin also transported extra technical equipment such as amplifier and cabling, which added around 70 kilograms to the total weight. Logwin transported the entire shipment from the packaging firm to Vienna Airport, from where it continued its journey to Port Elizabeth as air freight. As equipment for scientific purposes, the loudspeaker was exempt from customs inspections – Logwin had already completed the appropriate formalities prior to departure. Logwin's office in South Africa took receipt of the consignment at Port Elizabeth Airport and now arranges for all further handling and onward transport to the national park.

"We are planning to deploy the loudspeaker in the very near future," explains Anton Baotic. "Smooth transport was therefore very important for us. My colleagues and I can now concentrate once more on the actual research project."


Communication over several kilometers

The destination of the special loudspeaker was Addo Elephant National Park, 70 kilometers northeast of Port Elizabeth. With a size of 180,000 hectares, it is South Africa's third largest national park. The project researching the acoustic communications of elephant bulls will be starting there at the beginning of August. The animals communicate in the wild over several kilometers using sounds in the infrasound range. These very deep, low-frequency sounds are inaudible to humans. Elephants in the park will be subjected to recordings of fellow elephants emitted by the subwoofer, and the reactions to the different sounds will be documented and subsequently analyzed in the cognitive biology laboratory at the University of Vienna. The loudspeaker will make the return journey to Austria after several years of intensive research.


About Logwin AG

Logwin AG (Grevenmacher, Luxembourg) provides efficient logistics and transport solutions for its customers from industry and trade. In 2014 the group generated sales of 1.1 billion euros and currently employs about 4,300 staff. Logwin operates in all main markets worldwide and has around 180 locations on six continents. With its two business segments Solutions and Air + Ocean, Logwin AG is one of the leaders in the market.

The Logwin business segment Air + Ocean performs international air and sea transportation as well as customised and complex logistics solutions within its global network of locations.

Logwin AG is listed in the Prime Standard of the Deutsche Börse. The majority shareholder is DELTON AG, Bad Homburg (Germany).


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