Big Carl, the 5,000 tonne capacity super heavy lift ring crane (with the nomenclature SGC-250) owned by Belgian headquartered heavy lift and transportation company Sarens, has been assembled, rigged, and is ready to start work at the Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station construction project. Its first lift is scheduled for Monday 23rd September.

The crane will be on site for the next four years during which time it will lift more than 600 pieces of pre-fabricated components. The heaviest lift will weigh 1,600 tonnes. One of its key lifts will comprise raising the dome of a building that houses prefabricated reactor building parts; then it will lift these prefab parts out of the dome building and slew them into the new reactor building. The dome building is used to ensure large components can be built on site in covered, factory-like conditions and is designed to help save time and improve quality. The dome will be lifted via 12 lifting points which will be equalised using Sarens’s Sarspin load levelling system.

Lifting procedures on the HPC project will be discussed at the forthcoming World Crane and Transport Summit in Amsterdam on 13 November.

The crane will run on over 6 kilometres of ArcelorMittal steel rail. Three lift locations, comprising 48.5 metre turning circles, are linked by lengths of straight track. The crane runs on 128 wheels for slewing and lifting and on 96 wheels for travelling. It uses hydraulic cylinders to switch from the ring to straight rails.

The configuration of main hook block (which weighs 105 tonnes and has a capacity of 3,200 tonnes) has now been set, although the SGC-250 will be re-reeved for its heaviest lifts. The main block can take up to 60 falls of 50 millimetres wire rope. The jib hook (which weighs 58 tonnes and has a capacity of 1,600 tonnes) can take a maximum of 40 falls.

“It’s the crane’s first job and I am confident that everything will go very well because we have done lots of testing already,” said Hendrik Sarens, owner and director at Sarens. “Everything has gone as planned and we are ready to do the first lift. No doubts about that.”

Rob Jordan, EDF construction director at Hinkley Point C, added, “The crane is an impressive piece of kit and a world beater. It allows us to innovate in the way we build the power station, lifting complete pieces out of our factory bunkers and into place across the site. Pre-fabrication helps us boost quality, gives better conditions for skilled workers and saves time – that’s good news for the project and an example of learning lessons from success at other projects.”

 SGC-250 top facts

  • Sarens claims Big Carl is the biggest land-based crane in the world.
  • It is 250 metres tall in its tallest configuration.
  • At 40 metres radius it can lift 5,000 tonnes.
  • It takes up to 5200 tonnes of counterweight.
  • It is powered by six powerpacks, with each powerpack comprising two engines. The crane can operate using just one powerpack – but at a much reduced speed.
  • At HPC the SGC-250 will run between three lifting points linked by rail. In total, there is over 6 kilometres of track.

The SGC-250, also known as ‘Big Carl’, is scheduled to remain at Hinkley Point C for the next four years

The SGC-250, also known as ‘Big Carl’, is scheduled to remain at Hinkley Point C for the next four years

One of its key lifts will be moving prefabricated reactor building components from inside the domed building (seen here between Big Carl and the luffing jib tower crane) where they are being assembled and stored and slewing them into the new reactor build

One of its key lifts will be moving prefabricated reactor building components from inside the domed building (seen here between Big Carl and the luffing jib tower crane) where they are being assembled and stored and slewing them into the new reactor build

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”I am confident that everything will go very well,” states Hendrik Sarens, owner and director at Sarens

The SGC-250's 128 wheels for slewing and lifting and on 96 wheels for travelling

The SGC-250 runs on 128 wheels for slewing and lifting and on 96 wheels for travelling

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Three turning circle lifting sites are linked by straight sections of rail. In total, there are more than 6 km of track on the site

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The main hook block weighs 105 tonnes and comprises two double hooks

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One of the crane’s six powerpacks. Each powerpack has two engines

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The SGC-250 can carry up to 5200 tonnes of counterweight

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The SGC-250’s operator. He has previously worked on Sarens’ SGC-120 in Newcastle, UK and the company’s SGC-140 in Kazakhstan

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Part of the crane’s control pannel

Big Carl, Sarens SGC-250 at Hinkley Point C

Although the crane has a maximum lifting capacity of 5,000 tonnes (at a 40 metre radius) its heaviest lift will be 1,600 tonne

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