Engaged at Victoria’s West Gate Tunnel Project to help lift a range of girders and steel portals, JYC’s two Tadano CC3800s have been put to the test over the past 18 months completing a range of dual lifts on the WGTP. JYM Heavy Lift Manager Ben Musson provides an update on the project, its difficulties, and a range of the heavy lifts completed by the joint venture.
With big investment in infrastructure projects comes the need for big investment in large machinery capable of completing the task at hand.
Victoria’s A$10 billion West Gate Tunnel project fits that bill. As part of the state’s ‘Big Build’ that seeks to improve current infrastructure such as regional rail, urban rail connections and urban connecting roads, the West Gate Tunnel project is one of the major infrastructure projects taking place nationally, with cranes and other heavy machinery dominating the suburbs of Port Melbourne, Footscray and Docklands.
One of the companies at the forefront is Johnson & Young Cranes, putting its joint venture with McKay United, ‘JYM’, to full use. After the two businesses noticed a gap in the market for larger capacity crawler cranes, they decided to put their assets together to form the JYM brand circa 2020. The joint venture’s fleet contains three Tadano CC2200s and two Tadano CC3800s that possess full SSL, boom boost and split tray capabilities.
JYM’s two CC3800s have now been operating on the West Gate Tunnel Project for the last 18 months, working under the JYC banner during the joint venture’s contract for the installation of the heavier components of the numerous bridges that make up the intersection of Footscray Road and CityLink. Ben Musson, seconded as JYM’s Heavy Lift Manager for the project since 2021, says the JYC and WGTP engineering departments worked “hand in glove” in producing concepts to ensure machine program was consistent with an efficient workflow.
“On top of my role, we added JYC’s Lift Designer Brendan Thorne to the team so we could work together on creating CC3800 concepts for all girders in this area to ensure operational change management and program changes can be facilitated to suit machine availability within the project,” he said.
The main scope of work for the CC3800s so far has been the installation of the girders that, to date, have topped out at 289 tonnes. The CC3800s, however, have also installed a range of steel portals that were responsible for transitioning the girders from their steel berths to the precast segment above the Footscray Road area and Dynon Road area. The Tadano crawler cranes completed lifts on steel portals of up to 459 tonnes.
One of the main challenges for the team at JYC was transporting the crane from site to site in a congested, dense, urban area, with lots of traffic surrounding the operations. Using such a large crane as the Tadano CC3800, a lot of counterweight and boom sections were needed for the job. This presented a “logistically difficult” challenge, according to Ben, as the team wanted to establish the cranes in the right configuration for each lift to ensure optimal efficiency ensued.
“To fully derig, reassemble, and relocate the cranes, we needed to deploy 30+ semi loads, two floats for the tracks of the crane and a seven-line platform for the main car body,” said Ben. “Additionally, thanks to the tight nature of the jobsite, we needed to make full use of the limited space we had to lay components down. At times, this entailed the delivery of components for the crane in reverse order and sometimes take possession of the roads to allow space for the boom and SL mast to be assembled.”
Helping in the assembly and disassembly of the Tadano crawlers was any one of JYC’s numerous LTM1250 all-terrain cranes, with some mobilisation processes requiring the use of JYC’s LTM1400 all-terrain crane. Further complicating the project, however, was the prevalence of Coode Island silt – a young sedimentary soil in the Yarra Delta that is known for being highly compressible. To overcome this, the team at JYC worked closely with the West Gate Tunnel Project to ensure crane platforms were not constructed any thicker than necessary, according to Ben.
“On multiple occasions, we used the SL tray for the pick operation because it produces a far lower and more uniform track pressure,” says Ben. “This especially helpful in the ‘Bridge 70’ areas of the project, as the pick of the load became more precise with the use of the tray, resulting in less margin for error.”
“As an engineering team, we reduced the complication by placing the SL tray at a lesser radius than was required for the lifted load, which resulted in the tray floating before the load is raised, assisting the operator with any fine adjustments during the lift,” he continued. “In many cases we also returned the tray to a lesser radius as we lost weight on the placing of the load. This saved additional costs on platforms as the dimensions of the overall platform could be reduced to support the tray.”
For Ben and the team at JYC, the Vario SL feature – which ensures the finetuning of the floating of the tray – has been pivotal across the team’s work on the West Gate Tunnel Project. Able to assist in avoiding any obstacles encountered during the slewing of the crane, the feature also allows the luffing of the back mast and tray from 11m to 21m, dependent on the load’s weight and radius.
“Though many older machines can change SL mast or derrick radius, not all can stay ‘on chart’ when adjusting the mast radius, and so they should not conduct this under lifting conditions,”
says Ben. “Without the Vario SL ability, many of the lifts would not have been able to be performed.”
Further to the precise nature of the lifts JYC completed, georeferenced CAD files were also provided for the project so that accurate survey marks for the cranes, the SL tray, and the load’s centre of gravity could be accurately recorded, which further assisted the team on site in their accuracy when lifting and configuring.
To provide additional reduction in platform thickness, the project engaged RBG to design some heavy-duty mats for the crane, at a width of 7.5m and a weight just short of 10t each. Constructed from 310UC sections – larger than what is generally found under a 650-tonne crawler crane – a minimum of 10 mats were required under each setup, according to Ben.
“We have also performed pick and carry operations on the heaviest girder to date at 289 tonnes, which required a runway of 20 mats,” he says. “This brought the gross weight of the crane up to around 1500 tonnes once the load, rigging and fabricated mats had all been added together. It was important that we produced georeferenced CAD files to know the impact we would be having on the ground around the project, allowing us to ensure precision throughout the lift.”
A key part to the successful lifts completed over the past 12 months for JYC and its two Tadano CC3800s was the rigging equipment supplied. Because of the confined, precise nature of the tasks at hand, the West Gate Tunnel Project supplied several Enerpac sync hoists to help with the load stabilisation and exact positioning of the loads. As most of the lifts on Bridge 70 held some interface with the road, rail, CityLink or bike paths, ensuring the loads were precisely trimmed and efficiently enacted was imperative, as the location made the lifts “extremely time critical”.
“It was essential that we completed the work required of us in the allotted timeframe, or else the project could have seen delays for weeks on end,” says Ben. “Ultimately, this collaborative approach between the JYC team and the West Gate Tunnel team has thus far served both parties well and provided the desired outcomes for the project.”
The dual lift:
The difficulty of the lifts required of JYC were encapsulated by the dual lift completed at the intersection of Appleton Dock Road and Footscray Road. Requiring the use of both CC3800s in and amongst the four rail lines, three roads and one bike path that all needed to be fully closed down by the WGTP, JYC needed to employ all its engineering nous to work within the parameters of the project’s lifting procedures.
“In this instance, the main challenge was ensuring the SL tray would float while maintaining less than 90 per cent of capacity, with the addition of the 20 per cent dual lift factor,” says Ben.
JYC deployed both cranes in SSL_2 with 84m of boom and 325 tonnes of SL counterweight, and SSL_3 with 90m of boom and 325 tonnes of SL counterweight respectively. In accordance with the approved lift study, both cranes required the 325 tonnes of SL counterweight at an SL radius of 21m. However, because of the 20 per cent dual lift factor not being “actual”, the SL tray “would not raise with the actual load on the hook in reality”, according to Ben.
“To overcome this issue, we once again turned to the versatile Vario SL option,” he said. “We started with the SL trays at 13m and 15m respectively, which meant that the tray would rise with a smaller percentage of the total hoisted load. As the cranes took more of the load, the SL vario mast radius was increased while ensuring that the crane did not exceed 90 per cent of capacity.”
Overall, in lifting the girder, the first crane had a load share of 74.454 tonnes, picking at a radius of 63.38m and placed at 66.98m and the SL positioned between 15m and 17.8m. The second crane had a load share of 70.64 tonnes working at 63.9m to 70.9m and the tray at 13.2m to 17.9m at to maintain the under 90 per cent operational capacity required and ensure the tray floated throughout.
To ensure there were no unforeseen clashes, JYC also produced a full three-dimension model to simulate the lift manually and engaged with the crew in a collaborative manner to agree on how the lift should proceed.
“On the day of the lift we had two crews of six, consisting of one operator, one rigger observing the tray, two ground riggers for the rig up and pick, and two riggers up on the scaffold for the placement of the girder, with the lead rigger controlling the lift switched between ground and scaffold crew as required,” says Ben.
“Ultimately it’s the team on the ground who make it happen, and JYC are fortunate enough to have the best in the industry in both engineering and crane crew departments.”
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