“Proper preparation is essential for a project like this one”
IF A PROJECT IS TO BE CARRIED OUT SUCCESSFULLY AND WITH HIGH QUALITY, THEN PROPER WORK PREPARATION IS VITAL. PROPER PREPARATION IS ALREADY HALF THE WORK. WAGENBORG DEVOTES A LOT OF TIME AND ATTENTION TO THE PROCESS THAT PRECEDES THE ACTUAL IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS PROJECTS. BUT JUST WHAT IS INVOLVED IN WORK PREPARATION? WHAT EXACTLY HAS TO BE DONE AND ALLOWED FOR? TO GET AN IDEA, WE TOOK A CLOSE-UP LOOK AT ONE OF WAGENBORG’S PROJECTS AND WE TALKED TO PROJECT COORDINATOR BERT MAATHUIS.
Exchanging a 150-tonne transformer in Berlin
Köpenicker Straße in Berlin, Germany. It’s now the decisive moment. All the preparations have been made and exchanging the 150-tonne transformer can begin. The old transformer has already been removed from the combined heat and power plant and the new one is waiting on a barge nearby to be lifted into place by Wagenborg’s LR1400 crawler crane.
All the different operations have been properly coordinated and everything has gone without a hitch. The skid system – with which the new transformer will be slid onto its foundation – has already been set up and is ready for use.
Everything under control
“Proper preparation is essential for
a project like this one,” says Bert Maathuis. “We’ve already prepared the project in minute detail in the weeks prior to actual implementation.
There’s a lot more involved than you might at rst think. Royal Smit Transformers in Nijmegen gave us the assignment for exchanging the power plant’s old transformer here in Berlin for a new one. That may sound simple, but there’s actually a great deal involved. We rst decided on the best transport solution. There are obviously a number of different ways of tackling a project like this.
We decided to rst transport the new transformer from the construction facility in Nijmegen to the harbour by road (still in Nijmegen). We did that using a modular trailer. When we arrived at the harbour – which is now ten days ago – the transformer was transferred onto an inland waterway barge using
a 700-tonne mobile telescopic crane. Transport here by water went well.
As you see, the barge with the new transformer has arrived and everything is now ready for transferring the transformer onto the skid track using the crawler crane. The transfer is about to begin.”
Why use an LR1400 crawler crane?
For this project, Wagenborg has opted to use its LR1400 crawler crane.
But why exactly? Is that actually the smartest transport option? “Initially, our preference was for a different solution,” Bert Maathuis explains. “A bit further along there’s a quayside where we would have enough space to transfer the transformer onto conventional trailers using mobile cranes and then transport it a short distance by road to its nal destination. In that case we wouldn’t have had to bring in and mobilise the crawler crane. However, the quayside turned out not to be strong enough to take the weight, so that option had to be abandoned. On the other side of town there was also a big inland harbour
that we could use, but that would have meant crossing the entire town with the 150-tonne transformer. Not ideal either!
To avoid having to do that, we looked at exactly what was possible at the Köpenicker Straße site. Unfortunately, we couldn’t use mobile cranes there because they couldn’t quite bridge the distance to the barge. But the LR1400 crawler crane could, which is why we decided to use it.”
Is the site strong enough?
The quayside a bit further away wasn’t strong enough to take the weight, so how can you be sure that the ground
is strong enough at the actual site? “Before tackling the job, we went to Berlin to inspect the site so we could determine the best transport solution. We also did a soil test to be certain that the ground was in fact strong enough.
We used special measuring equipment to check the strength in a number of places. It turned out to be really solid. In fact, it had served as a parking area for cranes back when the power plant was being built. So it was ideal for mobilising the crawler crane.”
Ballast in the barge
The barge with the new transformer awaiting transfer is moored in a small inlet. The Wagenborg team have now attached the lifting equipment to the transformer and the LR1400 gets to work. There are some ballast blocks in the barge behind the transformer. Bert Maathuis explains why: “We needed the ballast blocks to keep the barge balanced on its way here.” But why was the transformer not just positioned amidships? Then the ballast wouldn’t have been necessary, would it? “As
you can see,” says Mr Maathuis, “the transformer was indeed placed towards the bows of the vessel rather than amidships. That was deliberate. The narrow inlet here at the site meant that there wasn’t enough room to allow the barge to enter any further in order for the crawler crane to lift the transformer from the middle of the barge.
The way the barge is now positioned does not allow the crane to bridge the distance to the middle of the vessel with a weight of 150 tonnes on its hook. That’s why we positioned the transformer towards the bows, which meant that ballast was needed to keep the vessel trimmed.”
What else is involved in a transport like this one? Do you have to have certain permits? “Yes indeed,” says Bert Maathuis. ”A transport permit was necessary, for example, to take the transformer from the Royal Smit Transformers factory in Nijmegen to the harbour by road. We can move a 150-tonne transformer by road, but we can’t just do it during rush hour! As soon as we’d decided on the transport solution, our engineering department made a transport drawing and that was the basis for the permit application. Even though it was only a short distance to the harbour, there were still some obstacles to deal with. We needed to cross the railway, for example. For that to be possible, power to the overhead cables needed to be switched off temporarily and the cables had to be raised using special forklifts.
That enabled us to cross the railway. Some traffic lights also had to be swivelled out of the way so the convoy could pass.
We also needed a permit to transport the body of the crawler crane. That meant that we noti ed the authorities of the starting and nishing points and they then decided on the route for which they would issue a permit. So there’s a lot involved in preparing our projects.”
While we’ve been talking, the transformer has been transferred onto the skid track – a perfect lift by the LR1400. But that perfect lift was only possible because of some top-class work preparation.
The new transformer will be slid inside onto its foundation along the skid track. The LR1400 will then load the old transformer onto the barge, which will take it back to Nijmegen. When it gets there, the same 700-tonne mobile crane will unload it.