Development by degrees: Klimer president Jay Gordon talks to AI

27 April 2010

 A double-decker platform provides a work area for a spray plaster application at the Palisade Palms

A double-decker platform provides a work area for a spray plaster application at the Palisade Palms project in Galveston, Texas, US

Klimer prides itself in the ability to push the boundaries of mast climbing equipment production. Jay Gordon, Klimer president, talks to Euan Youdale about some of the projects which have influenced new designs

Canada-based Klimer Manufacturing Inc. has provided mast climbing equipment since 1993. Its most recent advancement came in response to a quotation request from NASA's Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

As a result, Klimer secured the contract to design and manufacture a circular twin mast platform system to provide access to the exterior skin of the Aries Rocket for testing at the space center.

"We further developed our twin mast system to accommodate the circular configuration. It was the only way we could address the space constraints adequately," explains Mr. Gordon.

"The design of the mechanical components of the leveling system were particularly challenging as they needed to pivot yet provide structural rigidity to the outer edge of the circular platform."

The platform's mechanical leveling system was designed using standard twinning kit components combined with a custom platform section.

"Throughout the design process I was concerned that the mechanical leveling system would be prone to binding due to the high loads induced by the circular configuration, but our engineering manager Jeff Murray assured me that he was able to validate the design through our detailed modeling process," comments Mr. Gordon.

Winning combination

The practice of combining existing equipment with custom design has proven to be a success time-and-time again, says Mr. Gordon.

"We develop new accessories or custom items and combine them with our standard equipment modules. The end result is a cost-effective yet customized solution using proven components and technology that produce reliable performance on each project."

Mr. Gordon continues, "Whenever possible our customization is done with bolt on or pin on components, such that they can easily be removed at the completion of the project."

Once the project is complete, the customer owns a standard piece of mast climbing equipment that they can continue to use on their typical projects.

"The benefit to our equipment owners is that they can utilize any of these modifications or accessories to solve similar challenges since everything we do is compatible with earlier models and they are typically bolt/pin on solutions," adds Mr. Gordon.


The progression to such technological feats as the Marshall Space Centre project can be seen in the company's recent history. An example is the development of Klimer's twin mast systems. The original design of its KPM-8 mast climbing work platform allowed for a straight or linear span of 30m.

When Ashman Court Motel, Sterling Heights, Michigan, US, required access to its masonry restoration project, with 38 m of linear coverage and spanning a 20m long canopy, the company designed and engineered a bolt on twinning kit. The kit utilized standard platform sections and reduced the bending moments to allow maximum span to be increased to 40 m.

"The design also provided better flexibility at the location of the mast columns," adds Mr. Gordon. "The system is straightforward; it simply bolts on to our standard platform and repositions and reduces the maximum bending moment.

"It utilizes slots to accommodate imprecise jobsite conditions allowing easy installation and a device to later convert the loose tolerance slotted connections to a precise pin connection that ensures accurate automatic leveling capability."

Multi-surface access

The second incremental advancement came three years later when Boone Pickens Stadium at Oklahoma State University, Michigan, US, required access to all surfaces of a 42 m high rectangular stairwell, measuring 8.8 x 11.8 m.

"With most mast climbing platforms it would have required two twin mast platforms or four single mast platforms. Our approach was to develop a unique twining kit that required the use of only two standard KPM-8 single mast machines to provide access," explains Mr. Gordon.

The bolt on kit allowed two single mast machines to be oriented back-to-back, connected together with standard platform sections. The system was completed with an automatic leveling system that plugged into an existing receptacle on the control panel.

Later on in the project the same equipment was utilized in single mast configurations to 15 m lengths and twin mast configurations to 34 m with no additional equipment required.

Powered platform

The next development came when Klimer was asked to provide a powered platform system allowing access to three walls, the ceiling and the structural curtain wall of a 90 m tall atrium at The Marriott Hotel Atrium in Grand Rapids, Michigan, US.

"The atrium, although architecturally pleasing to the eye, was a difficult shape to platform out with straight components. The narrowest side was a radius curve with the atrium widening out to a larger radius curve at the curtain wall.

"We adapted our rectangular twin mast to a six sided platform that filled the atrium void with less than 100 mm clearance around the perimeter," explained Mr. Gordon.

Additional demands on the system saw glazing materials moved from the interior of the building across the atrium at elevation. They were later to be installed on the exterior of the structural steel.

This requirement lead to the development of a multileveled work platform with overhead gantry system and hydraulically deployed cantilevered platforms which would provide intermittent access to the exterior façade.

The second level platform and gantry can be combined or utilized as two separate accessories to aid in the installation of unitized panels.

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