Old tool, new uses

24 April 2008

While they have been around since the 1960s and their use has been widespread among specialized users, hydraulic gantries are finally enjoying a day in the sun. While they are still in the category of specialized lifting, conventional crane companies, construction contractors and specialized transport companies are discoveringa range of uses for this well designed, easy-to-use equipment.

“Our customers view them as a way to decrease cycle times and lift and move their loads more efficiently,” says Mark Davis, branch manager at Crane & Rig, based in Alberta, Canada. The western Canada distributor for Shuttle lift gantries, Crane & Rig has sold six hydraulic gantries in the last year and anticipates orders for six to eight more in the coming months.

Davis says his company recently sold two Shuttle lift ISL 50 B gantry units with a rating of 50 tons to Flint Energy, a large construction and oil field company that uses the equipment in a number of ways.

“The use of these cranes is becoming more widespread,” Davis says.

Ben Forster at Rigging Gear Sales based in Dixon, IL rents Lift Systems gantries to customers throughout the US, Mexico and Canada. Client Irondale Industrial recently rented a gantry system to move and install a huge furnace at a steel plant. The company had never used a gantry for that type of work before but was impressed with the speed and efficiency of the Lift Systems unit they rented.

“Gantry rental and sales is a good business for us,” says Forster. Following is a sampling of some of the innovative applications for hydraulic gantries in North America.

Big job for Bigge

Construction on the Empire Energy Centeris progressing at a rapid pace despite the project's complexity. Construction began on the billion-dollar combined cycle gas turbine power station in Romoland, Riverside County, CA in late 2005 and the project is on schedule to be on line in summer 2008.

Bigge Crane & Rigging of San Leandro, CA won the contract to carry out all the lifting, heavy transportation and rigging for the project.

Among the jobs Bigge is working on is the erection of an elevated gantry in conjunction with the Hydrospex Gantry Model SBL1100 for the setting of turbine and generator components, the heaviest of which weighs in at over 350 tons. The full-powered SBL1100 has a lifting capacity of 1,100 tons, and a tits fully extended height of more than 41 feet, it can lift 440 tons - a critical factor for this particular job.

The lifting capacity of the SBL1100 at higher reaches enabled Bigge to solve a logistical problem. The schedule required that, on each of the two units, the generator is set before the combustion turbine arrives on site. Because access is restricted, the 350 ton combustion turbine was to be hoisted over the generator and steam turbines already in place.

Mounted on top of the SBL1100 will bea computer-controlled Hydrospex strand jacking system. In conjunction with a swivel bar, the strand jacks will be used to offload each component, raise them to the required height and rotate them through 90 degrees for translation and final set.

Winning the contract for this project required significant engineering expertise and a large amount of equipment, according to Bigge president Weston Settlemier. “We were able to demonstrate that we could provide a turnkey solution with a significant engineering input, a large amount of equipment, and highly skilled technicians,” he says. “Beyond experience, engineering and equipment, however, we were also able to demonstrate our commitment to risk management. Our safety record was a key factor.”

Mining shovel maintenance

Periodically, large mining shovels used at coal mines in Wyoming require maintenance. Such was the case in July when contractor SKV LLC used its J&R Engineering Lift-N-Lock T1802-8-39 gantry to lift a P&H 2800 coal mining shovel at one of those coal mines.

A set of eight units of the T1 802-8-39 gantries were used to separate the upper and lower sections of the mining shovel to gain access to the machine's structural and engine components. Weighing 1,150 tons, the machine was raised about 17 feetto achieve the clearances needed.

The P&H 2800 is a very large machine, around 35 feet wide by 40 feet long. The machine's boom is 60 feet long. Once it was lifted and secured, workers replaced rails, swing components, ring gear and rollers.

Based in Wright, WY, SKV LLC uses its gantries for machine separations and upgrades for customers in the Wyoming Powder River Basin, primarily at coal mines. The company will travel outside of the service area if required.

“Use of the J&R Lift-N-Lockgantry has reduced the machine down time by three to four days on a hardware change-out,” says Ken Della, spokesman for J&R Engineering, which manufactures the gantries.

Steve Vinot, operations manager at SKV, says his company ordered the J&R Engineering gantries over a year ago and received them last March. Since that time they have used them at jobsites all over Wyoming. “We have them loaded on dedicated trailers and they stayloaded when they are not in use,” he says.

Prior to getting their Lift-N-Lock gantry system SKV used a mats and jack system to lift the machines and perform the necessary maintenance.

“The hydraulic system speeds up things considerably,” says Vinot. “Before, we'd have to leave the machines up on blocks a lot higher in the air.”

The new system is also advantageous because it allows SKV technicians to remove the booms from the shovels much more easily“We have to take the booms off a lot of the machines now, more so than we used to,” he says. “Now we can take the booms off and send them to the shop to be worked on while we are changing out the other components. This new system allows us to minimize the downtime.”

Furnace lift

More and more, hydraulic gantries are popular rental machines as contractors have discovered their attributes. Such was the case for Birmingham, AL-based Irondale Industrial, which recently rented a Lift Systems hydraulic gantry from Rigging Gear Sales, Inc. for a project at a steel plant in Ghent, KY

According to Irondale president John Kosie, the project involved moving a tilt platform for an electric arc furnace and installing it on a permanent foundation. The unit was 30 feet wide by 40 feet long and 10 feet tall and weighed around 200 tons. The task at hand in June was to move the unit south to north by around 200 feet and, once in that location, move it east to west about 150 feet. At that point the load had to be lifted about 30 feet and set in place on its foundation.

Using a Lift Systems 34PT5400WS Power Tower gantry rated at 500 tons, the task was carried out in about a week, Kosie says.

“The system was very easy to use,” Kosie explains. “Some of the guys who work for us had used them before and Rigging Gear Sales, Inc. sent out a technician who provided the necessary direction we needed. It was a challenging project from the stand point that we've done a number of these types of jobs, assembling electric arc furnaces, but this is the first time we had to accomplish this type of project without the use of an overhead crane.”

After building, leveling and aligning the runways on which the gantries move, the load was transported from south to north using the beams on top of the load and suspending the load with chokers. When the load was transitioned to move from west to east, it was temporarily cribbed so that the runways could be relocated. “When we changed directions, the gantries had to support the load from underneath,” says Kosie. “We didn't have room to put it underneath the platform.”

With 30 conventional cranes in its fleet, Irondale Industrial typically owns the lifting equipment it needs to carry out its jobs. “In a special application like this we will rent what we need from Rigging Gear Sales,” says Kosie.

Bridge span challenge

In the beautiful city of Querétaro, Mexico, the government approved a project to restore three bridges. Using two model 48A Lift Systems gantries, Transtell S.A. de C.V. (also known as Transportes Telleria) was contracted to lift, store and haul 32 bridge spans for the three bridges.

The large bridge beams are about 26 yards(24 m) long, 13 yards (12 m) wide and 3 yards(2.8 m) high and weigh 297 tons (270 tonnes)each. Using the gantries the bridge spans were lifted, moved and then placed on trailers to be hauled to the three jobsites. Conventional cranes were used to lift the spans off the trailers and place them. With a capacity of 800 tons each, the two Lift Systems gantries used some 273 yards (250 m) of track.

Juan Pablo D'Esezarte of Transtell says the job was especially challenging because the spans were built at one location, stored for a time at a warehouse and then trucked when they were needed to the jobsite. “The interesting part of the job is that they built four beams at the same time so the first one had to be lifted up and then moved 110 yards (100 m) by the gantries, crossing the other three,” he says.“T e gantries worked really well for this type of lifting and moving.”

D'Esezarte says his company also rents gantries and other rigging gear from Rigging Gear Sales.

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