Complex heavy lift – TATA Chemicals Europe


As part of an ongoing project to decommission and demolish a redundant chemical facility, the client enlisted the expertise of the heavy-lift team within O’Brien Specialist Crane Services to carry out a number of complex lifting operations.

This project is one of the biggest, most complex, and high profile demolition projects to be undertaken in the UK over the past five years. Apart from the sheer scale of the project, one of the biggest challenges to face the demolition and heavy-lift teams was the quantity of live services which crossed the site. Most of these in close proximity to buildings to be demolished and in some cases going underneath or through the centre of the redundant assets. It was imperative that these live services were not damaged and, at every stage of the project, they remained live. The services included HP Steam, IP Steam, HV & LV electric cables which connected several important stakeholders such a TATA Chemicals, E.on & INEOS.

In the early stages of the project, three assets were identified as unsuitable for traditional mechanical demolition due to the services which ran below. The assets were all high-level conveyor gantries. It was determined that the safest method of removal was to dismantle the gantries using heavy-lift mobile cranes. However, because of the unique, and complex, design of the structure, this was not going to be straight forward. The longest of the three gantries consisted of a 40-metre centre span, supported by two cantilever sections, one of which was 20 metres long in horizontal position, and the second was a 45 metre angled incline section rising from ground level up to 20 metres high. After reviewing the structural design and calculating the weights of each section, the O’Brien Specialist Crane Services team devised a solution for the safe removal of the gantry. Two 500 ton mobile cranes were needed to carry out the dismantling. The 40 metre centre section was lifted free first using one of the cranes. The second section to be lifted was the 45 metre incline cantilever. This had to be lifted in two sections, but due to the cantilever design, they needed to be lifted at the same time by both of the heavy-lift cranes and then separated whilst still being supported by the cranes. The dismantling of the 130-ton gantry was completed in four lifts, the second and third gantries were dismantled in the same way using the 500-ton cranes.

The O’Brien Specialist Crane Services team carried out all aspects of the lifting operations including:

  • Initial site survey
  • Calculations of load weights
  • Design of dismantling sequence
  • Ground loading calculations
  • Installation of crane pads
  • Provision of risk analysis
  • Provision of detailed lift plan’s
  • Planning, supervision and execution of lifting operations

The lifting operations were successfully carried out over a two day period during which time the service remained live and undamaged.

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