C&L, Cranes & Lifting, International, Projects, SPMTs

Mammoet breaks record for heaviest load transported

Mammoet breaks record for heaviest load transported in Lithuania by shifting a Residue Hydrocracking Unit for ORLEN.

Mammoet has showcased its extensive transport and engineered heavy lifting capabilities by shifting and installing a 1500-tonne Residue Hydrocracking Unit (RHCU) at a Lithuanian refinery, breaking a Lithuanian record in the process for the heaviest load transported.

  • Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive the latest news from Australasia’s lifting industry.
  • Don’t miss a lift and subscribe to our monthly magazine.
  • Download our latest digital magazine to catch up on the biggest news and developments in the crane industry.

Working on the ORLEN Lietuva refinery in Mažekiai – the only one of its kind in the Baltic states – Mammoet was contracted to bring the unit in from Italy and then moved into the refinery. Planning on the project began in 2016, according to Mammoet’s Global Sales Director, Edvinas Ivanauskas, working closely with ORLEN and the Lithuanian Transport Authority to investigate different methods, technologies, and solutions to complete the job.

“We looked at all kinds of different options,” said Global Sales Director, Edvinas Ivanauskas. “We considered bringing it by water and by a neighboring country. We also considered building a temporary jetty close to the refinery; however, this was not feasible due to the environmental impact assessment. When selecting the best route, you must carry out a lot of investigation in terms of the ground, the bridges and the weather conditions.”

Cutting the RHCU and transporting it in parts was also investigated. However, this approach would require welding it back together at the site using a specialist welding machine, of which there are only two in Europe. The team therefore took the decision to transport it in one piece.

Constructed in Italy, the unit was shipped to the city of Klaipeda on a heavy lift Jumbo vessel equipped with two 900-tonne cranes to lift it into its port. Preparations had to be made to get the correct load introductions and ensure that the port could receive such a heavy vessel and cargo.

“A port is usually six or seven tonnes per square meter for standard operation,” said Ivanauskas. “Basically, we took the approach to strengthen the quay and the areas around it to be able to handle the vessel. We sought special permission from the terminal owner and port authority to get approval.”

Mammoet breaks record for heaviest load transported in Lithuania by shifting a Residue Hydrocracking Unit for ORLEN.
Two 900-tonne cranes were required to unload the unit at the dock. Image: Mammoet.

After successfully unloading the RHCU, Mammoet began transporting the unit by road on its 145km journey. The reactor was transported using 88 axle lines of PST and conventional trailer, pulled by two prime movers.

The journey took around 17 days, with the convoy travelling at an average speed of three to five kilometres per hour with movements mostly at night. This was to avoid damaging the asphalt in the summer heat and to minimise disruption for traffic and the public.

Despite this, the route still posed its challenges: summer in Lithuania can bring heavy rainfall and, in the weeks leading up to the transportation, there was a downpour. To prevent the convoy from getting stuck in the ground, steel plates were laid across the gravel routes to spread the loads.

Electric cables also needed to be temporarily disconnected, and a permanent bridge constructed for the convoy to use. Five existing bridges also needed to be reinforced, as well as culverts bridged, and several bypasses erected.

At one stage, the team had to overcome an 8 per cent slope in a small valley. With the ground unstable, sheet piling was used, and two additional prime movers called in, to support the convoy.

Transporting the mammoth RHCU gained much media attention and as such, drew quite a crowd of onlookers. People would arrive as early as 4am to see the convoy, and around 500 people flocked to witness it perform one turn and capture the moment on their phone cameras.

Transportation of the unit was the most difficult part; by comparison, installation of the unit was much more straightforward, according to Mammoet. The lifting of the unit was carried out using a gantry crane and LR11350 tailing crane.

Mammoet breaks record for heaviest load transported in Lithuania by shifting a Residue Hydrocracking Unit for ORLEN.
According to Mammoet, the lifting was the easiest part of the job thanks to its custom gantry and LR11350. Image: Mammoet.

The cranes first performed a tandem lift of the unit, so that operators could drive the trailers out from underneath it. The gantry crane then lifted the top of it, whilst the LR11350 followed its movements to keep the hook of the gantry straight.

The operation was completed in roughly seven hours, and to schedule, meaning work elsewhere on the site could continue promptly.

Mammoet’s transportation of the RHCU made record books for being the heaviest load ever transported in Lithuania; additionally, the lift was the first time that a gantry crane had ever been used to perform a lift in the country.

Send this to a friend