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Innovative lifting beam wins award

Innovative lifting beam wins award

The Innovation category in the Lift of the Year Awards presented at the 2017 CICA National Crane Conference in Adelaide went to Edwards Heavy Lift (EHL) and RUD for their joint design and fabrication of a lifting beam for Bechtel. This is used for servicing methane compressors at the Chevron Wheatstone project in Onslow (WA), writes Greg Keane.

Bechtel initially contacted Stuart Edwards of EHL to design and supply a lifting beam that could reach outside the path of the JDN overhead cranes used at Wheatstone. A counterweighted beam was rejected as being comparatively cumbersome in both set-up and operation, as well as being heavier.

Edwards’ design comprised the lifting beam, an oversize ring for attaching it to the hook of the overhead crane, an air hoist and a pneumatic rack-and-pinion drive for trolleying the hoist along the beam, a pedestal hand control, and a steel cabinet with fork pockets for transporting and storing the beam. The beam uses air hoists already on site and surplus to requirements. Limit switches prevent over-travel of the pneumatic drive.

EHL engaged RUD to fabricate the lifting beam, as it did not have its own facilities for this. The two parties have a history of working together on projects.

Two kits were supplied: one for each of the two trains in operation at Chevron’s Onslow facility. They are used at 11 locations on site, and are stored in Perth when not in operation.

The kit requires an initial set-up to centre the hoist on the beam but after this, there is no ongoing requirement to do this before operation.

Its primary purpose was to remove the compressor housings, but it can now be used for removing and installing gearboxes on the compressors, and removing the internal rotor when a compressor requires a rebuild.

The hoist can lift off centre, and then trolleys the load to the balance point of the beam before the overhead crane is moved. The smooth, precise operation of the hoist and trolley is important for protecting the high quality machined faces on the compressor casing and internals from damage.

The hand control impressed site personnel with its large, easy-to-read actuating buttons. In summer months in Onslow, the high temperature and humidity can impair vision through safety glasses, and at times operators were forced to remove gloves to get a better feel for the actuator buttons of other equipment. This is not an issue with the lifting beam controls.

The transport cabinet also drew favourable comment, as it provides access to the air hoist from both sides for servicing and maintenance.

When asked if the lifting beam was site-specific or could be used in other applications, Edwards told Cranes and Lifting: “It could be used anywhere the reach of a gantry crane needs to be increased.  For smaller applications where cost was an issue, the pneumatic rack-and-pinion travel drive could be replaced with a hand chain drive and it could be supplied without a storage cabinet.”

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