Gantry systems serve as loyal lifters

By Hannah Sundermeyer13 May 2019

A versatile rigging tool, gantry systems are used across a spectrum of industries. In some cases, they offer the only solution to heavy machinery installations. Gantry systems are ideal for delicate heavy loads in tight spaces.

“Pound for pound, hydraulic gantries offer a superior cost versus capacity ratio when compared to cranes,” said Ben Forster, vice president, Lift Systems. “Mobilization costs, jobsite footprint, compact size for low headroom scenarios and site preparation requirements are just some of the considerations where hydraulic gantries can become a logical choice in lieu of a crane approach to a project.”

Gantry system projects

From rail car transports to crucial bridge restorations, ACT surveyed some of the leading companies in the industry about their recent gantry projects.

Railroad trestle replacement

Western Mechanical utilized an Enerpac hydraulic gantry for the precision lifting and replacement of bridge spans over an eight-week period. A Canadian Crown agency undertook a major project to refurbish six century-old bridges on GO Transit’s 01 Lakeshore West line, one of the seven train lines of the GO Transit system in the Greater Toronto, Ontario area. Working for main contractor Soncin Construction, Western Mechanical was charged with replacing eight bridge spans on the Humber Bay railroad bridge crossing the mouth of the Humber River in downtown Toronto.

EN-3007 Western Mechanical-1

Western Mechanical used an Enerpac hydraulic gantry for the precision lifting and replacement of Humber River railroad bridge spans over an 8-week period.

The Crown agency wished to replace and raise the 107-year-old bridge’s steel spans. Given the critical role of the bridge, the rail line had to remain open to local traffic during weekdays and could only be closed for bridge work during a 50-hour work block on the weekends. Western Mechanical opted to use its new Enerpac SBL1100 telescopic hydraulic gantry rather than a crane for the project.

“The gantry is ideal for this type of heavy lift where you are handling a long heavy structure,” said Rob Doucet, project manager, heavy lift division, Western Mechanical. “Using a crane would have been expensive, especially since we’d only be using it at the weekends.”

Western Mechanical’s challenge was to lift the old bridge span clear of the bridge and then install the new span without placing any excessive load on the partly deconstructed bridge. To achieve this, the company installed its deep truss gantry track system running parallel to the bridge and on either side, but independent of the bridge itself. Western’s track system was supported on new additions made to the two existing piers and at each abutment. This approach relied on using a gantry header beam that was wider than the width of the bridge.

AIC Gantry

Using a J&R Engineering Lift-N-Lock gantry system, Duncan Machinery Movers recently completed the installation of two, 6,300-ton Sumitomo hot forging presses.

With the gantry in place, Western Mechanical could begin the job of removing the span sections. Each steel span configuration was dual plate girder-style construction with an upper precast concrete panel deck. The top concrete deck of the bridge included a steel I-beam section creating significantly higher weight in the upper part of the span, making it top-heavy with a high center of gravity.

In selecting the Enerpac SBL1100 gantry system for this lift, Western Mechanical maximized the freedom of movement offered by using a telescopic gantry.

Press picks

Duncan Machinery Movers recently completed the installation of two, 6,300-ton Sumitomo hot forging presses. Each press had several pieces of auxiliary equipment including a billet furnace, roll forge and trim press. The client stamps aluminum auto parts for various manufacturers.

To assemble the press, the crew was responsible for performing three gantry picks utilizing a J&R Engineering Lift-N-Lock Boom T1102-4-32 gantry with a capacity of 550 tons. Weighing 164,000 pounds, the crown sat on top of the press. Once the crown was positioned in front of the press, it was then rigged to the gantry bridals. Once the crown was rigged to the gantry, it was then lifted 25 feet into the air to clear the pieces of the press that had already been set into place.

The crew then utilized the gantry’s hydraulic drive to transport the crown along the gantry track until it was in position over the rest of the press. Once over the rest of the press, the crown was then lowered and set into its final position.

Transformer transport

Berghorst & Son was recently tasked with bringing a replacement transformer into a local power company’s generating plant.


Berghorst & Son was tasked with bringing in a replacement transformer weighing 720,000 pounds, 30 feet long, 11 feet 9 inches wide and standing 16 feet tall. 

The ABB Transformer weighed 720,000 pounds, measured 30 feet long, 11 feet 9 inches wide and 16 feet tall. Transported in on a Schnabel railcar, the massive transformer was unloaded from the railcar to Berghorst’s Goldhofer trailer and then hauled to the generating plant. To transload the transformer to the trailer a Model 44A, 400-ton capacity, 4-point Lift System gantry system was utilized.

Berghorst & Son used 8-inch to 40-inch, 100-ton lift links and two lift beams that were 36 inches deep by 32 feet long and weighed 328 pounds. Berghorst used 8 to 55-ton shackles and eight Twin Path Extra Tufxks Kevlar slings rated at a 125,000-pound capacity in the vertical position. The slings were attached to the Schnabel car adapters on the transformer.

Critical beam support

Just six weeks after opening to the public, structural flaws were discovered in a pair of critical steel beams supporting the Salesforce Transit Center in downtown San Francisco, CA. Bigge was able to provide the right combination of equipment, engineering solutions and technicians to assist with a temporary emergency support structure.

The main girders requiring support spanned laterally under a landscaped rooftop park. Suspended below was a level to accommodate transit buses one level above Fremont Street. Municipal transit trains occupy corridors below street level. Bigge dispatched two pieces of equipment to serve as temporary support: a 1,100-ton capacity Enerpac gantry system and 700-ton capacity J&R Engineering hydraulic gantries.


After structural flaws were discovered in a pair of critical steel beams supporting the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco, CA, Bigge rigged two separate gantry systems to serve as a temporary support structure.

“The electrically powered, self-contained Enerpac gantries made for an ideal solution for this job,” said Gedge Knopf, general manager, major projects division, Bigge. “Their ease of set up, deployment, operation, plus the modern design make them much more favorable than diesel-driven hydraulic pump solutions. Coupling this equipment with our in-house engineering and the experience of our technical crew, we were glad to meet the challenges this job presented.”

Engineered Rigging

Dagen Trucking transloaded a 480-ton generator from a Schnabel railcar to an 18-axle SPMT for temporary storage before the final transport for overseas shipment.  

Initial deployment on Fremont Street, a heavily traveled automobile corridor between the Financial District and the Bay Bridge onramps, lasted a week while emergency repairs were made. The gantries were then deployed a block away on First Street, where they spent the next four months.

Generator lift and haul

Dagen Trucking is a specialized trucking, shipping, rigging and warehousing group located in Castleton, NY and offers port, crane, heavy-lift and transport services to clients in the northeastern U.S. and beyond.

Engineered Rigging (ER) recently supplied technical and operational oversight for Dagen Trucking to support the company’s heavy lifting operations at the Port of Albany. From ER, Dagen had purchased a 1,000-ton Enerpac SBL1100 gantry system including 600-ton side-shift units, gantry track and lift beams.

A recent project involved transloading a 480-ton generator from a Schnabel railcar to Dagen’s 18-axle self-propelled modular trailer (SPMT) for temporary storage on stands in their warehouse for maintenance and then final transport to a ship’s tackle for overseas shipment.

“Dagen’s unique blend of transport, heavy-lift and warehousing options offers the client the best option for accomplishing the shipping and maintenance requirements in the safest and most efficient manner,” said Jeff Dagen, owner, Dagen Trucking. “This is just one recent example of the turnkey services they provide to clients with oversized loads or complete project applications. Supplying a certified Enerpac technician/operational engineer onsite was important to the successful completion of the project for ER and Dagen Trucking.

Generator replacement

Mammoet crews safely and successfully replaced a 40-year-old main electric generator at a nuclear power facility in Minnesota. The exchange meant that the plant would likely meet the set license extension requirements and prove it was a profitable asset, ultimately allowing it to continue operations in the future.

Mammoet Gantry Project

Mammoet utilized its own tower system to replace a 40-year-old, 1-million-pound electric generator in Minnesota.

Each of the two pressurized water reactors can generate about 550 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about one million homes. The one-million-pound generator was lifted from its location utilizing a tower system built by Mammoet, and a containerized winch system with a capacity of 650 metric tons. It was slid out of the facility and transported off site on 24 axle lines of self-propelled modular trailer (SPMT). This specific generator was one of the oldest operational generators in the United States.

Once the old generator was moved out, the new generator was brought in and installed using the same method in reverse. This method allowed the client to continue maintenance work on the unit until just before extraction, which optimized project efficiency. During the installation, Mammoet succeeded in realizing more efficiencies, including the accelerated removal of equipment that was no longer needed. Ultimately, the complete re-installation was finished three days ahead of schedule.

Vessel load out

PSC Crane & Rigging utilized its 1400 Series 700-ton capacity J&R Engineering Lift-N-Lock boom gantry to load out several large vessels from a temporary laydown yard onto over-the-road transporters. The largest vessel was 18 feet in diameter and 260-feet long, weighing in at 650,000 pounds.

PSC Crane & Rigging has three J&R Lift-N-Lock gantry systems in its fleet, a 1100 Series, 1400 series and 1800 Series, including all accessories, including power links, stabilizer bars, engineered track sections and a 400-ton power rotator. The 1800 Series is equipped with J&R’s Equalizer System, which features PLC-controlled synchronization of all gantry movements as well as load indication, overload warning, lift housing, out-of-level warning indicators and remote-control capabilities.

Two-out, two-in gantry system

Weitz Industrial recently completed a ball mill replacement project that was over a year in the making. In 2017, Weitz contracted with Birmingham, AL-based G&R Mineral Services to provide 3D scanning services and conceptual planning to assist their client in the removal of two existing ball mills and replace with new.

Weitz Industrial

Weitz utilized three separate Lift Systems gantry systems from Rigging Gear Sales for a ball mill replacement project.

The client, Ash Grove Cement Company based in Louisville, NE, was planning for a 2019 plant outage.

PSC Crane

PSC Crane & Rigging utilized its 1400 Series J&R Engineering Lift-N-Lock boom gantry to load out several large vessels from a temporary laydown yard onto OTR transporters. 

Fast forward to January 2019 for the actual plant outage. Weitz utilized three separate Lift Systems’ Model 44A and one Model 48A from Rigging Gear Sales to make the picks. One gantry system was dedicated to inside the building, one system operated outside the building to lower onto a trailer and the third system was dedicated to the laydown yard.

In addition to the gantries, Weitz also utilized a 360-degree rotating platform, dolly rail, track stands and a 4-axle self-propelled modular trailer (SPMT). These were all integral parts in making this challenging project happen.

Each ball mill weighed approximately 330,000 pounds and had to be replaced within a tight window to minimize overall downtime. Approximately 70 feet in length, the ball mills had to pass through existing building columns spaced 59 feet apart. This meant rotating the ball mills 45 degrees on the turntable to exit the building.

When it was all said and done, the existing ball mills were removed, and two new ball mills installed in a little over two weeks. This project was originally scheduled to take up to four weeks.

A challenging gantry system transport

Tradelossa utilized a Lift System gantry for the reception, transload and transportation of two gas turbines and two gas generators to the combined cycle plant in Los Ramones, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

The reception of all components was done from a rail car to a Goldhofer Faktor 5 for the cargo transportation. Using skidding techniques, the jacking equipment was positioned aside the rail to complete the loading to a short configuration. Tradelossa staff used two gantry systems to transload the cargo from the short configuration to the Faktor 5. According to Tradelossa’s rigging team, the ambitious operation faced three key challenges.

The first was completing the transportation and rigging of all components following the extraordinarily tight schedule that the client was demanding for this project. The second challenge was to complete the project in record time as well as achieve high customer quality standards. Tradelossa’s focus on total safety requirements for this project can be attributed to their personnel expertise and unique equipment, the company said.


Tradelossa utilized a Lift System gantry for the reception, transload and transportation of two gas turbines and two gas generators in Los Ramones, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

The third challenge was the troublesome weather conditions during the project, making all rigging operations more difficult. At the project site in Los Ramones, Tradelossa had to install two gas generators and two gas turbines. The components were installed 20 feet above the ground at the combined cycle power plant by using two gantry systems.

The project was completed in two weeks and involved a Lift Systems gantry and a J&R Engineering Lift N Lock gantry, both with 500 tons capacity. The two gas turbines measured 33.1 feet long, 14.4 feet wide, 14.4 feet tall and weighed up to 257 metric tons. The two gas generators measured 26.9 feet long, 12.7 feet wide, 14.4 feet tall and weighed up to 291 metric tons.

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