Relocation and Demolition of STS QC05

The Port of Veracruz is on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in south-central Mexico a little over 300 kilometres east-southeast of Mexico City. The Port of Veracruz is the main seaport on Mexico’s east coast and the backbone of the State of Veracruz’s economy. The new Port of Veracruz in Mexico is considered the most important port project of the past 100 years. This port expansion represents one of the biggest and most important public works accomplishments during this century. It will open up globalization opportunities between Latin America and other coastal regions around the world. It is anticipated that investment in the new Port of Veracruz will reach $1.5billion USD on phase 1 alone.

The jewel in the crown of new Port of Veracruz is the Specialised Container Terminal which will see a direct investment of $450million USD to reach annual capacity of 2.1 million TEU. Operated by Hutchison Ports, phase 1 of the Internacional de Contenedores Asociados de Veracruz (ICAVE) Specialised Container Terminal was complete in 2018. Phase 1 covers a total Surface of 42 hectares; with a container capacity of 1.8 million TEUS per year; a new quay length of 507 meters and 14 meter draft.

Upon completion, the new ICAVE container terminal will see Hutchison Ports investing in 12 new Super Post Panamax quay cranes from Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company Limited (ZPMC), with an approximate cost of $10million USD each. These new quay cranes will replace the older equipment by offering greater technology and efficiency, and the ability to service the largest vessels afloat.

After 22 years of continued service, Mitsubishi STS QC-05 had completed its productive life cycle and as such was surplus to operational requirements. As a result, Hutchison Ports ICAVE made the decision to dispose of QC-05 to make way for the arrival of new QC’s.

As Hutchison Ports preferred global crane disposal contractor, O’Brien Specialist Crane Services were engaged by the ICAVE engineering team to develop a proposal for the disposal of QC-05 that would ensure minimum disruption to port operations and have no adverse impact on the new terminal infrastructure, all the while offering a cost-effective solution that is in line with Hutchison Ports ambitious sustainability strategy.

As only 507 metres of the planned 1,050 metre quay had been complete during phase one of the Specialised Container Terminal, quayside area was at a premium with every square metre used for terminal operations. Therefore, it quickly became apparent that the demolition of QC-05 could not take place in its current location on the quayside crane rails. It was proposed that QC-05 would be relocated from the crane rails to a remote demolition area at the boundary of the ICAVE terminal. This would remove all disruption of the demolition works away from the quayside operation.

Following a detailed engineering study on QC-05, an SPMT transport arrangement was developed that utilised 46 axle lines, 2PPU’s and various steel support beams to manoeuvre the QC from the quayside to the remote demolition site following existing terminal roadways. The SPMT relocation took less than 2 hours, carried out in the early hours of a Sunday morning to further limit terminal disruption.

From a very early stage in the project, the client was keen to investigate the demolition method of Controlled Collapse as the benefits were fully understood following countless successful projects carried out by O’Brien SCS across the Hutchison Ports network. An initial desktop study was carried out to determine the feasibility of the Controlled Collapse method, the results of which were positive. The client had expressed concerns surrounding the structural condition of QC-05 due to severe corrosion. The next stage of the project saw O’Brien SCS dispatch a team of engineers from the UK to carry out a full and detailed structural survey to verify the QC’s strength to withstand the SPMT relocation and demolition pre-weakening procedure.

It was noted from the structural survey that almost all structural and bracing members had suffered from considerable corrosion, significantly reducing the QC’s structural integrity. However, the structure was deemed stable for the SPMT relocation. The O’Brien SCS engineers then set about to develop a pre-weakening design which would allow the controlled collapse of the QC, while still maintaining sufficient structural strength to avoid uncontrolled collapse during the cutting operation, taking into consideration the level of corrosion.

Another key consideration for the O’Brien SCS engineering team was protection of the terminal infrastructure during the relocation, laydown and demolition of QC-05. For the setting down of QC-05 in the demolition area O’Brien SCS developed a temporary rail system which would spread the loads imposed to a suitable level while securing the crane against moving due to wind loading in all directions. It was also important that a sufficient friction coefficient was applied between the temporary steel rails and the concrete yard surface so as to resist movement during the Controlled Collapse.

As the QC was being relocated to a remote demolition site, it gave flexibility to the O’Brien SCS team to determine the best possible location, to not only limit disruption to port operations, but also to a more beneficial position to aid in protecting the concrete yard surface. QC-05 was positioned at the boundary of the ICAVE terminal and in such a way that during the controlled collapse the crane structure would travel outside of the operational port and onto adjacent waste land. The benefit of this was twofold, first it reduced the size of the demolition area within the container terminal thus significantly reducing disruption, and second, as the area where the QC would come to rest was of made-up ground, there was no requirement to protect this from damage resulting in the controlled collapse, reducing engineering and costs.
Following the planning and mobilisation stage, the O’Brien SCS team arrived in Mexico for the project execution carrying out all works involved in the preparation and actual demolition of QC-05. Once at ground level the crane structure was cut into suitably sized sections for recycling using oxygen and propane cutting equipment. All different waste streams were segregated during the scrap processing with all hazardous materials such as oils and lubricants being removed prior to demolition. Inline with the Hutchison Ports Sustainability Strategy and O’Brien SCS’s own environmental commitment, over 98% of QC-05 was recycled.

The O’Brien SCS works on this project were complete ahead of schedule, on budget and without any health, safety, or environmental incidents causing almost zero disruption to terminal operations to the absolute delight of Hutchison Ports and Puerto de Veracruz Authority.

The O’Brien SCS team carried out all aspects of this demolition project in-house including;

  • Initial site survey, feasibility study & calculations,
  • Assessment of QC structural integrity,
  • Provision of a ground load/impact study,
  • Provision of risk analysis,
  • Implementation of environmental control measures,
  • Design of unique pre weakening operation,
  • Design & installation of quay deck protection,
  • Design & installation of all temporary works,
  • Planning, supervision and execution of all works,

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