Boom Logistics – supplier of integrated lifting solutions for Australian industry – has spent the last few years transforming its business to be more cost effective and flexible to meet customer demands, while also making significant inroads to becoming a major player in the country’s booming wind farm sector, writes Jan Arreza.
According to Boom Logistics’ chief operating officer Tony Spassopoulos, the company has been involved in wind farms for over 10 years.
“At first, we were involved in wind farm maintenance works, and then, we secured the installation contract for Suzlon Energy at the Oakland Hills wind farm, where it was a crane-only package,” Spassopoulos added.
“The next logical step with the Australian market was having the ability for combined electrical and mechanical completion work, delivering projects to our customers with a total package.
“After Oaklands, we went into the Bald Hills wind farm, where we delivered a total package offering of crane, mechanical and electrical installation for Senvion.”
Completed and fully operational from 2015, the Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria consists of 52 turbines, each with a rated power of 2.05MW, a hub height of 80m, and a rotor diameter of 92.5m.
Boom utilised its 750t crawler crane – originally introduced for use on wind farm projects – due to the advantage of offering higher capacity lifts at specialised industrial sites.
The company also made use of its other major assets and resources from within its business to install the major components of the turbines.
In early 2017, Boom Logistics was awarded a contract with Vestas to provide services for the construction and delivery of the Kiata wind farm in north western Victoria.
Boom Logistics once again mobilised its high capacity 750t crane to site in July of last year to install the Vestas 3.45MW turbines to a height of 117m, the highest operating turbines in Australia at the time. Boom’s experienced personnel completed the full cranage, mechanical and electrical installation of the turbines across a period of three months.
“Boom has always had the equipment base – the 750 crawler is a great machine; however the 750 is only one part of it – there’s a lot more than one big crane on a wind farm site, there are often a multitude of assets and experienced crew all working together to get the job done, safely,” Spassopoulous said.
Boom Logistics has a fleet of 300 cranes – up to 750t in capacity – 200 travel towers with reach up to 70m, as well as all the ancillary equipment required to deliver on these projects.
“We’ll have teams onsite offloading and laying the hardstands out with the components for installation, before we start installing the components.
“Our team will install them in several phases with several teams – one crew would take care of putting up the base towers, another one might come through to do the nacelle, while another comes in to do the blade install, etc.
“Then once it’s all up, we send in people to do the electrical configuration as well, so we’re offering a total package of work for the client throughout the entire run of the project.”
According to Spassopoulos, more often than not, there are two or three factors that might determine what crane to use on a job.
“The developer’s infrastructure and planning approvals for the project does impact crane selection, factors such as road access and pad size,” Spassopoulos said.
“The other factor that is now coming into play is that hub heights are getting higher, which means that potentially cranes that were once highly beneficial in relocation between hardstands, are no longer suitable because they don’t quite have the capacity at hook height.
“Boom’s larger capacity all-terrain cranes prove beneficial in base installation, offering fast relocation. Typically, we would run our 400t to 500t class all-terrain class cranes for base install and preassembly which can include installing the first two or three tower tubes. Also, each main crane will have a secondary crane paired with it in the 100t to 200t class, as well as several offloading machines.”
Although, with turbine size, and hub heights increasing, Boom’s fleet is growing this year with the addition of two 750t all-terrain cranes.
“The pair of LTM1750s will prove an invaluable asset in meeting our clients’ demands in construction, following through to maintenance support,” Spassopoulos said.
Currently, Boom Logistics is working on ACCIONA Energy’s $258 million Mt Gellibrand wind farm project, located in the Colac Otway Shire on Victoria’s Western Plains.
The first towers were installed in December last year, where Boom is using its 500t all-terrain to perform base tower installation, followed by a crawler crane installing the nacelle. The blades are then installed using the 500t crane configured with 47.3m boom and 63m luffing fly working with a team of skilled personnel with extensive expertise to complete the installation.
Through the course of the project, 44 steel towers in total will be installed at the site, positioning the wind turbine generator to a hub height of 87.5m. At their highest point the blades will reach almost 150m into the air.
Each blade weighs approximately 17.5t, while the four tower sections collectively tip the scales at 220t. Over the complete installation process, more than 18,000t of turbine infrastructure will be moved into place.
“We are well underway on ACCIONA’s Mt Gellibrand project in Victoria. It’s a good-size project for us and we’ve been there for several months now, and will continue through to June this year,” Spassopoulos said.
“It’s all about safety first and then getting the right line-up of personnel – having experienced site and safety managers, the right engineers, the right supervisors, the right riggers, the right crane crew, the right mechanical technicians – and ensuring everyone works well together.