In September 2016 Vic’s Crane & Heavy Haul dispatched its team of professionals and a plethora of lifting and hauling equipment to the City of Marquette, MI, USA, to complete the barge roll off, haul and installation of three 643,500-pound Wartsila natural gas engines.In still pictures the job looks pretty simple: offload the engines from a barge, haul them to the plant and install them in place using gantries and a jack-and-slide system.
But watching a time-lapse video of the project, one realizes that this job was anything but easy. Because there was no reasonable route for the engines to travel over the road, Vic’s team devised a plan that would mean offloading the engines from a local beach in Marquette on Lake Superior and then hauling them at night through the City of Marquette to the new natural gas-fueled power plant.
The first phase of the project would be the toughest part of the plan to get approved, according to Vic’s Crane & Heavy Haul Project Engineer Sean Lipinski.
“I would say that the biggest challenge of the job was convincing the Marquette Board of Light and Power, Wartsila and the city of Marquette that the public beach landing was the best option for unloading,” Lipinski said. “This gave us the most efficient haul route to save the customer, and essentially the citizens of Marquette, money.”
Vic’s sent Lipinski out to 3D laser scan the beach and lakeside to collect data in order to develop a plan for excavation, matting and grillage placement, and to verify ramp angles and water/barge elevations.
“Months prior to any equipment moving we worked many long days and hours back at the office developing plans for crane matting, truck matting and grillage placement to ensure we wouldn’t have an effect on the public beach directly under the equipment,” said Lipinski. “It required a lot of persistence to convince the city to allow us to unload on the public beach due to the concern of us disturbing the environment and shoreline of the lake.”Restrictions galoreThe beach roll-off location was the best option because hauling the engines from the local port through the City of Marquette was too challenging. There were city restrictions due to the size and weight of the engines and complicated power line lifting and removal would be required. Plus there were corner navigation issues on the narrow streets of Marquette. Each engine measured 19 feet 9 inches tall, 46 feet 8 inches long and 13 feet 5 inches wide. All three engines were secured to a barge that measured 220 feet by 55 feet by 12 feet deep.
The first challenge was creating a temporary landing on the beach. The beach required a large amount of preparation prior to the barge arriving due to the uneven ground and some concerns with soft spots, as well as trying to achieve the optimal ramp angle for unloading, according to Lipinski. Vic’s team created a plan that would involve building a 20 by 20-foot temporary landing pad that consisted of two layers of six 4 by 20 by 1-foot crane mats and then two more to help taper down the ramp.
“We also had four 4 by 20 by 1-foot steel grillages to take the direct loading of the barge ramps,” said Lipinski. “We laid eight 45-foot barge ramps on the landing to create a 16-foot wide unloading platform. To finish off the landing pad, we used 8 by 14-foot by 6-inch truck mats to mat out the ramp and entire beach route to minimize our impact on the sand below.”The temporary landing was roughly 75 to 100 feet from the base of the landing pad to the roadway.
“We were very lucky to have good weather during the project, and we didn’t have to deal with many waves or tidal effects, but it was definitely a large concern,” said Lipinski. “The day after we unloaded, the waves were very violent and would have made the roll-off procedure unsafe.”
The assist crane, a 110-ton capacity Grove TMS 9000E, lifted and placed the timber mats and grillage for the offload pad. For offload operations, Vic’s team selected a 14-axle line Goldhofer PST-H (self-propelled platform trailer).
“After the barge arrived, we installed the ramps and began removing all the tie-downs on the load,” said Lipinski. “To aid in offload operations, when the engines arrived at the port on the ocean vessel, they were loaded on the barge onto our staging stands and beams to allow for us to self-load the self-propelled platform trailer by raising the hydraulic cylinders on the axle sets. Loading them onto our equipment allowed us to make sure the placement of the engines was going to work with our unload procedure.”
After securing the engines and rolling them off of the barge, they were staged until evening on a frontage road near the beach. Meanwhile, the trailer was reconfigured to 22 axle lines for weight distribution on city streets. The gross load of the trailer and engine was 867,550 pounds and the transport length was 128 feet 6 inches long.Lots of ‘jumping’Even though the 2.5-mile route to the power plant was fairly short, it was not challenge free, to say the least.
“We had to use grillages and barge ramps to ‘jump’ many culverts, utilities and a steam tunnel for Marquette University due to the extreme axle loadings this load produced,” said Lipinski. “This process took place three nights in a row, one engine per night, and the grillages and barge ramps were cleaned up each night to ensure there was no interference with daily traffic on Wright Street in Marquette.”
The engines, delivered by Vic’s SPMT, and the three accompanying generators that arrived by truck, were then installed over the next week. At the power plant the crew used Vic’s 500-ton Lift Systems 24PT500LT gantry system with a 350-ton capacity Grove GMK 6350 for assistance and lifting of the 159,000 pound generators to a slide track system.Back at the beach, Vic’s crews removed the temporary landing in the reverse of how they assembled it.
“After we left, it would be hard to know that anything of this magnitude took place due to the expert planning and execution of our team,” Lipinski said.