Solutions for industrial installations: the air chain hoist

Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary measures. The construction of a lab for cancer treatment in an underground garage called for plenty of experience and expertise, and a good idea: the SCHOLPP air chain hoist.

The city and island nation of Singapore is an impressive, world-class financial metropolis, home to enormous skyscrapers and the largest port in the world. And right in the heart of it, there is a new cancer research center. The focal point of the treatment clinic is a cyclotron, weighing umpteen tons and valued at several million euros. SCHOLPP’s mission was to convey this extremely heavy, extremely expensive particle accelerator securely and precisely into a former underground parking garage. To do this, SCHOLPP made use of hydraulic, pneumatic, and electric media, as well as possibly the most important equipment on the project: an air chain hoist, whose hook carried this massive object.

Laying the foundation stone 2.0

“It was like laying another foundation stone for the building,” explained Matthias Liebsch, the specialist engineer in charge of planning and design. “Lifting the heavy cyclotron was a major challenge.” SCHOLPP had to integrate several bungalow-sized components of the system, each weighing up to 80 metric tons, into the former underground parking garage of a hospital.

The individual parts could only be carried into the interior of the building one at a time through a narrow opening in the facade – mind you, this had to be done in exactly the right order for installation. When designing a custom installation concept, there was thus a whole range of factors that needed to be considered and kept in mind. “First, all the constituent parts of the machine had to be somehow passed up to 30 meters through a small opening into the building, where many of them then had to be correctly oriented, rotated, and assembled,” Liebsch said, summarizing the key variables.

One idea, two configurations, three types of power

Whereas machinery is usually installed using a mobile crane, in Singapore SCHOLPP additionally required a crane runway with two different configurations. Components weighing up to 40 metric tons were moved under electric power using a crane bridge with trolley. SCHOLPP had to find a different solution for the particularly heavy cyclotron. The engineering team therefore designed a tandem crane bridge with air chain hoist for the lifting tasks. This made it possible to lift and lower weights of up to 100 metric tons using pneumatic power. For the correct horizontal positioning of this central piece in the longitudinal direction, SCHOLPP made use of the electric drives of the crane bridges. Lateral movement was provided by a hydraulic shifting device, while the rotating hook on the large air chain hoist provided the necessary rotation.

Heavyweight no match for air chain hoist

First, the chain hoist was positioned directly above the cyclotron using the tandem crane bridge and lateral shifter. Then, the chain hoist lifted its first real load. With it, SCHOLPP carefully lifted the particle accelerator out of the transfer station, millimeter by millimeter, handling it with kid gloves – it was essential that the installed sensor system and other delicate attachment parts were not damaged in any way. The tension reached unmeasurable levels. Was there really enough height remaining?

After this lifting motion, the suspended cyclotron was moved forward using the tandem crane bridge and positioned laterally using the hydraulic lateral shifter. Again, this was done millimeter by millimeter, everything feeling like it was in slow motion. The first moment of relief – the vertical gap between the top edge of the threshold and the bottom edge of the cyclotron was large enough.

Once the cyclotron was in position above the set-down point, it needed to be laboriously rotated, the horizontal position of the chain hoist had to be adjusted, and finally it was lowered into place with extreme precision. “On account of the spatial conditions and the necessarily extremely slow nature of the work, our team was really quite tense during the entire lift,” recalled Matthias Liebsch. “But the main thing is, we did it and it was a success – an extraordinary project for all involved!”

Benefits of the air chain hoist

What role did the air chain hoist play as an individual lifting tool? The space for move-in and maneuvering was incredibly limited both in terms of height and width. In spite of their weight and size, the components had to be moved very precisely and set down in exactly the right place. “This project was only possible using this piece of equipment and no other technology and, because of its compact nature, no other comparable product. Furthermore, an air chain hoist offers a great deal of reliability and a low likelihood of malfunction,” added Matthias Liebsch.

For SCHOLPP, the purchase of the air chain hoist was a worthwhile investment since, even on its first outing, it demonstrated its innovative power both literally and tangibly. The sturdy and compact air chain hoist will continue to lift and move heavy components reliably and with great sensitivity, including in potentially explosive areas.