With end users demanding an increase in the payload and height of hydraulic gantries, it is up to the manufacturer to provide a design that still offers a safe and efficient way to lift and position heavy loads. Katherine Weir reports
Telescopic hydraulic gantry type lifting systems offer a flexible solution for end users, often being used on skid tracks to provide a means for moving and placing their heavy and awkward loads.
International hydraulic equipment manufacturer Enerpac has a portfolio of high pressure hydraulic tools, including three series of gantries: Super Lift (SL), Super Boom Lift (SBL) and Mega Boom Lift (MBL). Peter Crisci, Enerpac integrated solutions, says, “Hydraulic gantries are a safe, efficient way to lift and position heavy loads in applications where traditional cranes will not fit and permanent overhead structures are not an option. Gantries are placed on skid tracks to provide a means for moving and placing heavy loads, many times with only one pick.”
New from Enerpac this year are two hydraulic telescopic gantry systems, the SL400 and SBL900. Crisci says, “As with all Enerpac gantries, they are completely self-contained, meaning all hydraulic and electrical components are built into every leg, so you simply need to attach electrical power and the gantry system is operational.”
The SBL900, launched in May 2016, has a foldable boom, a maximum lift height of 11.3 metres and can handle up to 600 tonnes at the top of the second stage. Each leg can be controlled individually or via the Intellilift wireless system.
Released in August 2015, the SL400 gantry has a capacity of 399 tonnes to a lifting height of 3.16 m and 195 tonnes to 9.1 m.
An end user who uses Enerpac, among others’ equipment, is international heavy lift and transport company Mammoet. Peter van Oostrom, Mammoet director of global equipment, says, “We primarily use the electrically driven hydraulic gantries from EIS [Enerpac Integrated Solutions]. Mostly the SBL 1100, but also the SBL 900 and SBL 500.
“For the North American market we also make use of hydraulic gantries from Lift-N-Lock, diesel or propane powered. All include skid tracks and header beams, which enables us to perform vertical and horizontal movements. We even have features to supplement the system with additional lifting, such as strand jacks, and positioning, such as side-shift systems on the top. Capacities are up to 1,068 US tons [969 tonnes] or 267 tons [242 tonnes] per leg.”
Lift-N-Lock hydraulic boom gantries from Wisconsin, USA-based J&R Engineering are available in capacities from 100 to 2,600 US tons (90 to 2,359 tonnes) with higher lift capacity models available on request for project applications, the company said.
Kevin Johnston, J&R president, says, “All Lift-N-Lock gantries have integral self-propel, powered by a hydraulically driven planetary gear drive that directly drives the loaded axle. This allows the operator to drive one or more lift housings at a time to align the gantry to the load; then once the load is lifted, all four housings can be driven together to the final location where the load will be placed.
Safety is key
John Vermeeren, director of global operations at Mammoet, speaks about the company’s strong safety focus. “We are in continuous dialogue with vendors to enhance the safety features of our equipment. For example, tailor made tracks underneath the gantries, designed by Mammoet, that provide for a more stable and safer gantry operation. With regard to providing and maintaining stability of the systems we use stabilisation bracings or stabilisers.”
For Italy-based manufacturer Officine CLP, it has recently seen demand for increased payload and height, which will require “additional efforts in terms of built-in safety, more precision in fabrication and a focus on machine user-friendliness.”
The company’s latest product in this area is the 1021-1260 ‘Super1000’ that can lift up to 600 tonnes at 13 metres. Roberto Pellegrino, CLP technical sales, explains the versatility of this model, “The Super1000 can be supplied complete with skid tracks, header beams, powered side shift trolleys, lift links and other ancillary accessories. The base and wheels are designed to fit already existing guide tracks.”
In terms of safety, the company believes that automation is not necessarily the way to go with hydraulic gantries. Pellegrino explains, “At CLP we believe that automation should be limited to the minimum as the hydraulic lifting gantries are working in many different jobsites and used for very peculiar projects, where the operator’s attention is of top importance.”
The company does, however, supply certain automatic functions, including the automatic levelling of the four towers during lifting and lowering, both unloaded and loaded, and a mechanical extension that is hydraulically set to the desired position and mechanically locked.
Another Italian company, Fagioli, describes gantry lifting systems as “one of the most reliable and usable lifting devices on the market due to its safety structure and components.” The specialized transport and heavy lift company has a portfolio of gantries from a selection of manufacturers.
“Safety is our main priority,” says Rudy Corbetta at Fagioli. “Our gantry systems are suitable for performing lifting operations up to 800 tonnes in restricted areas, or within warehouses where the standard crawler cranes have no access due to their dimensions. Moreover, the gantry lifting system is also used to change the configuration of the trailers during challenging heavy transports.”
South Africa-based heavy lift and transport company Vanguard says that investment in skilled personnel and excellent planning for a job are key in upholding high safety standards. Bryan Hodgkinson, Vanguard director, says, “The pre planning and engineering before any lift is very important. Operating and lifting with gantries when no one job is exactly the same as another, requires skill, experience and aptitude by the operators. The manufacturers need to remain continuously aware of this aspect to gantry use and in their focus on developing safer to use machinery. Their emphasis must be on tools that aid and practically assist the operator in his work and not on dumbing down the need for an operator.”
Vanguard, like Fagioli, has a selection of hydraulic gantries from other manufacturers, as well as a selection of its own models, ranging from 70 to 1,000 tonnes in capacity. Hodgkinson continues, “We believe that replacing cable control with remote control has been the biggest advancement in safety to date.”
Lift Systems, based in Illinois, USA, has been manufacturing gantry systems since the 1980s and has recently added new technology to its range. It is gearing up to launch an 800 ton (726 tonne) power tower boom-style hydraulic gantry system.
The company recently launched its CARL system with touch screen, an update of the CARL control system used in its hydraulic gantry systems and mobile pick and carry lines of equipment, the company says. Ben Forster at Lift Systems, says, “We are excited about all of the new sensor technology and its applications in precise machine control.”
Talking about the latest model in development, Forster says, “We’ve just completed factory testing of our 24PT800WT 800 ton [726 tonne] capacity power tower boom-style hydraulic gantry system. The first two legs of this system will be headed to a repeat customer in China who also already owns several models of Lift Systems power towers. This two-stage unit has 200 tons [181 tonne] capacity per gantry leg throughout the stroke of the system to 10.7 metres.”
CLP is working on remote service communication via GSM (global system for mobile communications) or internet with its machines, to provide the customer with a fast service response without having to wait for the physical presence of its technicians.
Pellegrino adds, “The powered links, which allow moving the load transversally on the lifting beams, will have the possibility to be used as powered skidding units. Driving on the same support tracks that run the hydraulic gantry legs will be able to move up to 500 tons [454 tonnes] safely and easily using the same radio remote control of the hydraulic gantry.”
Vanguard is developing a new sideways traversing system. Hodgkinson says, “We have recently been involved in the lifting and placing of large turbines and the tolerances for final alignment are very tight. Our new ultra sensitive traverse system will be a big help.”
This article was taken from the July 2016 issue of International Cranes and Specialized Transport magazine.