Record beam from Modulift

By Euan Youdale16 September 2011

Modulift's lifting rig for Harland and Wolff

Modulift's lifting rig for Harland and Wolff

Modulift has designed and manufactured a lifting rig to assemble Repower's 5 MW wind turbines for Harland and Wolff Heavy industries in Northern Ireland.

Responsible for the unloading and assembly of the clean power generators for Vattenfall's Ormonde Offshore Wind Farm Project, Harland and Wolff also had to load them back onto the barges when assembled for installation in the Irish Sea, creating a need for a rig that could multi-task.

UK-based Modulift's remit was to design a rig which could not only lift the individual turbines and towers separately and assembled, but also lift three wind turbine blades in one go, enabling the blades to stay in their calibrated sets for each turbine, at all times.

Using the same principles of its existing products, Modulift engineered a safe, lightweight, and cost-effective rig, allowing Harland and Wolff to continuously store and load from January until the end of July, said the company.

Modulift's rig consists of three main elements. Firstly, a giant 16 m long, 500 tonne lifting beam. Due to the nature of the lift and the need for minimising the overall weight of the rig itself, Modulift had to be able to design and build the beam to weigh less than 40 tonnes without compromising its capabilities, said the manufacturer.

"The lifting beam was also designed to include inspection hatches and was built to ensure that these hatches would not compromise the strength of the beam. The beam was an exciting milestone for Modulift, proving their technical achievements in designing highly engineered lifting equipment," said a company spokesman.

The second was the design and fabrication of a 48.5 m spreader that weighed no more than 9.6 tonnes to maximise the capacity of the cranes. The beam had to be easy to assemble in situ and capable of lifting the wind turbine blades, which, in their set of three, weigh 75 tonnes and span 61.5 metres.

"We spent a lot of time planning the best solution for their requirements and still needed to be able to turn this project around in record time," said Sue Caples, Modulift operations director and head of engineering.

"With the barges already on their way from Germany we had to battle against the weather to get the components finished and transported to Belfast in time to enable the project to stay on schedule, with the first barge arriving in early January," Caples added.

The components were taken by ferry to the Northern Ireland city of Belfast on a number of trucks. "With Belfast experiencing its coldest winter in 16 years, snow storms threatened to delay delivery. Luckily the dedication of all parties involved enabled both the lifting beam and the lattice spreader to be delivered before Christmas, and tested and commissioned in time for its first use in early January," Caples concluded.

As demand for heavy lifting is set to increase, with Modulift receiving a record number of orders for its MOD 400 so far in 2011, said the company, Harland and Wolff are expected to use their new 500 tonne lifting beam on many projects to come.

In addition, Modulift is standardising its new lattice spreaders for future customers wanting to lift loads of up to 100 tonnes.

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