Projects, Victoria

Metcalf completes complex bridge lift

Metcalf Crane Services was set the challenge of assembling and then lifting a 250 tonne-plus pedestrian bridge into position. A new Tadano Demag CC3800-1 crawler crane was purchased specifically for the project.

The lift was for the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), and the Western Program Alliance (WPA). The project involved major construction works for the Old Geelong Road level crossing removal project in Hoppers Crossing on the western outskirts of Melbourne. 

Works were undertaken by an alliance of McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald and Metro Trains Melbourne in partnership with LXRP. This team won the $355.5 million package for the removal of the Old Geelong Road and Werribee Street level crossing removals in early 2020.

For Metcalf Crane Services, the key element of the project involved the installation of a new pedestrian bridge. The bridge weighed in at an impressive 257.5t, inclusive of all the rigging, and was installed at a 31.5m radius. The configuration used was SSL_3 ‘vario’ with 78m of main boom, and the superlift tray was set at 21m with 325t of counterweight.

John Meekins, engineering manager for Metcalf Crane Services and responsible for lift planning on the project, provides some background on the lift.

“Metcalf Crane Services was engaged back in November of 2019. We were involvedthroughout the entire process, including where we would temporarily assemble the bridge and its final placement. The lift eventually took place in July 2021, so two years of planning went into this lift. 

“It was a complex project. We were set up in a car park with a rail corridor on one side and, on the other, we had a major gas main. This meant we were very constricted when it came to space on-site once the crane was in place. When the bridge was fully assembled it measured 49m in length and 9.1 metres wide, which added to the complications of limited space,” said Meekins.

“The bridge arrived in four ‘U-shaped’ sections on various floats and Metcalf Crane Services was challenged with the task of lifting the sections and then rotating 90 degrees and splicing the sections together.

“We implemented a triple crane lift strategy, which included our new Tadano Demag CC3800-1, Demag AC350, and GMK5250L to rotate and splice each individual section together.”

The Tadano Demag CC 3800-1 crawler crane can lift up to 650t at a 12m radius, has a max load moment of 8,484mt and a 195m maximum tip/sheave height. The lattice boom crawler crane model provides the ideal combination of a compact footprint and heavy lift capacity for this type of bridge work.

The lift was complex, with a rail corridor on one side and a major
gas main on the other.

“This was the second job for the Tadano Demag crawler, and it went straight from its first to this one. We spent one-and-a-half weeks splicing the bridge together and it took another week to fully dress and clad the bridge. All up we spent two-and-a-half to three weeks preparing the bridge for the lift. 

“We had originally planned to install the bridge during the day, but the wind speed was more than double the maximum allowable, so we returned later that evening and used the Tadano Demag CC3800-1 for the final install,” said Meekins.

Metcalf Crane Services had to prepare for a number of additional elements and obstacles, including the design and manufacture of steel bogmats for the crawler. A runway was constructed for the crawler because it was required to track 12m with the load on it. This involved intricate planning and several conversations with Tadano’s heavy lift team.

“We were engaged very early with this project, and we worked closely with the structural engineers on the methodology of how to complete the lift safely,” said Meekins. 

“We were involved at the beginning of the design stage, discussing the various elements of the project, including where the lugs should be positioned for the lifting, rotating, and splicing of the sections.

“We prepared 18 revisions to the plan before we finally agreed on the methodology for the lift, which is understandable as there was no margin for error,” said Meekins.

Being involved early in these large infrastructure projects is typical of the way Metcalf Crane Services has developed the relationships and partnerships with Tier One builders.

“With this type of project, we always encourage our clients to contact us as early as possible, because this enables us to work on providing a viable solution for them,” said Meekins. 

“Occasionally, we have been involved with projects where the lugs are placed in a less-than-ideal position, for example. These types of issues can be avoided if we are engaged in the design phase of a project.”

Tim Metcalf, owner and director of Metcalf Crane Services, is a long-term fan of the Tadano Demag product, and this is reflected in the crane fleet he runs. As a result of this, Meekins and Tadano’s Howard Dean are in close contact on a regular basis.

“Howard is very responsive to my calls, which can be quite frequent,” said Metcalfe. 

“A wide variety of projects cross my desk and I examine each of them to determine the optimal crane for the job. I read the manuals and, if I have unanswered questions, I call Howard and he and his team will come back and clarify any issues.”  

The 650t Tadano Demag crawler is the newest crawler in the Metcalf fleet and this was specifically purchased with this project in mind. The fleet also includes a 600t lattice boom truck mounted crane, down to a 4t crawler. Currently, 80 per cent of the fleet is Tadano Demag.

Metcalf Cranes Services has been operating for 26 years and, over this period, the business has built a solid reputation as an innovative, solutions-focused crane specialist within the construction sector and other industries, such as wind, roads, rail, telco and water. 

“We had numerous dual and triple lifts, all without an issue, very well set up and co-ordinated. Their safety and communication was at the highest standard at all times,” Jeff Trewin, superintendent at Western Program Alliance, offered as feedback regarding the project.

David Chuong, senior project engineer at Western Program Alliance noted: “With the target bridge install date being July 2021, November 2019 was when the project commenced discussions with the team at Metcalf.

Metcalf Crane Services prepared a simulation of the bridge lift and integrated the 3D animation with the drone footage of the lift.

“The team was outstanding in collaborating to come up with a suitable method to install the bridge. Site constraints and the rail corridor environment was the key challenge. Hours were spent planning to the centimetre the way that the bridge would be assembled and lifted into position. The Metcalf team knew their cranes’ capabilities back to front which was essential in mitigating major risks and to set the project up for success.”

Meekins explains more about Metcalf’s capabilities.

“As a result of our 3D animation capabilities, we prepared a simulation of the bridge lift and integrated the 3D animation with the drone footage of the lift. Increasingly, we are preparing 3D animations for our clients, so they can ‘virtually’ see the lifts happening well in advance of the actual lift. We find this puts their mind at ease and we can address any concerns in the lead-up. 

“Although we do work with rigging houses, we provided all of our own rigging equipment for this particular lift. We designed the rigging set-up, worked out the various tensions at each point and through each sling. WorkSafe was heavily involved during the lead-up to the lift and we worked hand in hand to ensure every base was covered. We purchased the spreader bar and the slings specifically for this lift, so all the rigging equipment was brand new,” said Meekins.

The Metcalf Cranes Services spreader bar has a 300t capacity and is manufactured by Maxirig. Metcalf purchased the bar and had it painted in its distinctive green livery. The slings above the spreader bar were 6m SpanSet slings with a 200t capacity. 

Below the bar, there were a number of slings joined together because the lifting points were so far apart. These varied in size and included lengths of 12m, 8m and 4m. 

“As the lifts get more complex and heavier, the rigging side of the business is increasingly important to Metcalf Cranes Services,” said Meekins. 

“Our Demag AC500-8 recently installed 80t pre-cast modules that were designed around six lifting points. This is not ideal; however, we were able to design and supply a rigging solution that resulted in a safe and successful lift.”  

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