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.
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.
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
One of the crane’s six powerpacks. Each powerpack has two engines
The SGC-250’s operator. He has previously worked on Sarens’ SGC-120 in Newcastle, UK and the company’s SGC-140 in Kazakhstan