• gantry
  • hydraulic turntable
  • forklifts
  • manlifts

When a steel mill in McMinville, Oregon decided to make a change in their operations process, they ended up with a problem: their existing configuration of cranes wasn’t going to work for the operation going forward. The two overhead double girder bridge cranes were 130,000 pounds each–and they needed to swap positions.

We had a history with these cranes; we had originally assembled them and moved them into place a few years ago, using our gantry system. The clients trusted our Portland-based, machinery moving crew to complete this next tricky and time-sensitive move using that very same system.

Seven inches and 24 hours: working with restricted time and space

From prior experience with moves like this, we knew one thing for sure: accurate measurements were going to be more than critical. If we had even a quarter of an inch of clearance, our team would be able to complete the swap–but we had to be absolutely certain about the calculations to avoid any chance of metal hitting metal.

Since the building had limited headroom, when all was said and done, our team would be working with seven inches of clearance.

And space wasn’t the only limiting factor. In order to move the cranes, the mill had to be shut down for production. We had a 24-hour window to complete the swap; our team would get set up while production was still in progress, then make the swap once the shutdown started. No room for error, no space to spare.

The Process

Planning: We took meticulous measurements to confirm the stack-up height of the cranes and equipment to avoid collision.

Movement: Using our custom-designed gantry system and hydraulic turntable, we lifted one crane off its rails, and lowered it enough for the other crane to be lifted and passed overhead. Once that crane was placed, we lifted the lowered crane and set it in its new position. A secure, positive connection between the lifting equipment and the crane itself allowed us to rotate while the two were connected.

Support: We also supported the client with end-stop and access platform modifications. Since the move changed the orientations of axis to the control cab, the control platform was changed and extended so the cab could be reached.

The Result: A satisfied client, a safe move, and minimal disruption

Due to our careful planning and sound experience, the job went exactly according to plan, with no mishaps or unexpected surprises. We’re pleased to say the client was very happy with the end result.

This method of handling overhead cranes is one of the safest ways to move them. Other options usually involve some type of modification to the building itself, such as tearing out the roof or sheet metal, or opening the side of the building to install temporary rails. The huge advantage to our gantry system is that it allows us to move these massive cranes without any disruptions to the building structure–even in tight spaces with minimal overhead clearance.
We’ve used this system for several other clients, including two different steel mills and two hydroelectric dams. So far, we’ve moved up to 150,000 pounds, and we have the capacity for up to 400 tons.

If the job calls for installing new cranes, refurbishing older cranes, swapping positions on shared rails, or “leapfrogging” the cranes to switch positions, our gantry system works for any industry that makes use of overhead cranes.