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Construction and Engineering

Surveying: ‘The future is here’ – KHL Group – Laser-View | Laser-View

By Construction and Engineering, Editor's Choice, Industrial automation, Sensors, Structural monitoring

The days when surveying meant a group of people holding up poles and measuring angles and distances, marking out a site with yet more poles, are long gone, and the techniques used today are becoming more and more sophisticated all the time. BIM (building information modelling) is a term that was coined only a few short years ago, but is now the key to unlock the data needed on a big project.

Source: Surveying: ‘The future is here’ – KHL Group – Laser-View | Laser-View

New approach makes lightest automotive metal more economic, useful

By Automotive Industry, Construction and Engineering, Editor's Choice, Fabrication and metalworking, Metals Production, News, Steel production

Magnesium—the lightest structural metal—has a lot going for it in the quest to make ever lighter cars and trucks that go farther on a tank of fuel or battery charge.

Magnesium is 75 percent lighter than steel, 33 percent lighter than aluminum and is the fourth most common element on earth behind iron, silicon and oxygen. But despite its light weight and natural abundance, auto makers have been stymied in their attempts to incorporate alloys into structural car parts. To provide the necessary strength has required the addition of costly, tongue-twisting rare elements such as dysprosium, praseodymium and ytterbium—until now.

A new process developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, should make it more feasible for the auto industry to incorporate magnesium alloys into structural components. The method has the potential to reduce cost by eliminating the need for rare-earth elements, while simultaneously improving the material’s structural properties. It’s a new twist on extrusion, in which the metal is forced through a tool to create a certain shape, kind of like dough pushed through a pasta maker results in different shapes.

Initial research, described recently in Materials Science and Engineering A, and Magnesium Technology, found the PNNL-developed process greatly improves the energy absorption of magnesium by creating novel microstructures which are not possible with traditional extrusion methods. It also improves a property called ductility—which is how far the metal can be stretched before it breaks. These enhancements make magnesium easier to work with and more likely to be used in structural car parts. Currently, magnesium components account for only about 1 percent, or 33 pounds, of a typical car’s weight according to a DOE report.

“Today, many vehicle manufacturers do not use magnesium in structural locations because of the two Ps; price and properties,” said principal investigator and mechanical engineer Scott Whalen. “Right now, manufacturers opt for low-cost aluminum in components such as bumper beams and crush tips. Using our process, we have enhanced the mechanical properties of magnesium to the point where it can now be considered instead of aluminum for these applications—without the added cost of rare-earth elements.”

A new spin on things

Researchers theorized that spinning the during the extrusion process would create just enough heat to soften the material so it could be easily pressed through a die to create tubes, rods and channels. Heat generated from mechanical friction deforming the metal, provides all of the heat necessary for the process, eliminating the need for power hungry resistance heaters used in traditional extrusion presses.

The shape of things to come

The PNNL team designed and commissioned an industrial version of their idea and received a one-of-a-kind, custom built Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion machine—coining the acronym for ShAPE™.

With it, they’ve successfully extruded very thin-walled round tubing, up to two inches in diameter, from magnesium-aluminum-zinc alloys AZ91 and ZK60A, improving their mechanical properties in the process. For example, room temperature ductility above 25 percent has been independently measured, which is a large improvement compared to typical extrusions.

“In the ShAPE™ process, we get highly refined microstructures within the metal and, in some cases, are even able to form nanostructured features,” said Whalen. “The higher the rotations per minute, the smaller the grains become which makes the tubing stronger and more ductile or pliable. Additionally, we can control the orientation of the crystalline structures in the metal to improve the energy absorption of magnesium so it’s equal to that of aluminum.”

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Spinning a magnesium alloy as it is pressed through a die to create tubes rods and channels is more energy efficient and actually improves the alloy’s mechanical properties, making them more useful in structural components for vehicles. Credit: PNNL

The push to save energy

The billets or chunks of bulk magnesium alloys flow through the die in a very soft state, thanks to the simultaneous linear and rotational forces of the ShAPE™ machine. This means only one tenth of the force is needed to push the material through a die compared to conventional extrusion.

This significant reduction in force would enable substantially smaller production machinery, thus lowering capital expenditures and operations costs for industry adopting this patent pending process. The force is so low, that the amount of electricity used to make a one-foot length of two-inch diameter tubing is about the same as it takes to run a residential kitchen oven for just 60 seconds.

Energy is saved since the heat generated at the billet/die interface is the only process heat required to soften the magnesium. “We don’t need giant heaters surrounding the billets of magnesium like industrial extrusion machines, said Whalen. “We are heating—with friction only—right at the place that matters.”

Magna-Cosma, a global auto industry parts supplier, is teaming with PNNL on this DOE funded research project to advance low cost magnesium parts and, as larger tubes are developed, will be testing them at one of their production facilities near Detroit.

PNNL’s ShAPE™ technology is available for licensing and could help to make a dent in the ‘s magnesium target, and slim down cars which currently weigh an average of 3,360 pounds.

​Hydraulic gantries: above and beyond – KHL Group

By Construction and Engineering, Editor's Choice, Excavation, News
PSC in the USA using a 700 tonne capacity J&R Engineering telescopic hydraulic gantry lifting system

PSC in the USA using a 700 tonne capacity J&R Engineering telescopic hydraulic gantry lifting system

The hydraulic gantry lifting system has become standard equipment in the lifting business today because of its cost effectiveness and project versatility. They can be used to lift and position heavy loads in applications where traditional cranes will not fit and where permanent overhead structures for jib cranes are not an option. In addition, they can be integrated with rail systems. According to Kevin Johnston, president of J&R Engineering, a US manufacturer of specialized lifting equipment, “our Lift-N-Lock hydraulic boom gantries, with their increased height capabilities and safety features, require considerably less of an investment than mobile or overhead cranes and can perform many of the same tasks. Gantries can also work in confined spaces or low overhead areas while remaining mobile and easily transportable.”

The following high-profile case study from one of J&R’s clients – Ohio, USA-based PSC Crane & Rigging (PSC) – illustrates some of the advantages of using a telescopic hydraulic lifting gantry for a challenging job:

PSC was commissioned for a heavy lift and transportation job as part of the Dugway Storage Tunnel project in North East Ohio. The Dugway Storage Tunnel will be 4.5 km long, with a diameter of 8 metres. It is designed to collect, store and treat wastewater and rainwater with the objective of reducing the level of environmental pollution in Lake Erie. The work called for PSC’s assistance in the set up and assembly of a 27 foot (8.2 metre) diameter tunnel boring machine (TBM). PSC was tasked with loading the TBM components onto 20 lines of self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) and transporting them approximately half-a-mile from the TBM equipment staging laydown yard to the location of the installation shaft.

The main TBM component weighed 450 tonnes. Once the TBM components had been transported to the installation shaft, PSC then offloaded them from the SPMT lines using a 700 ton hydraulic gantry system from J&R Engineering as a lift tower. The hydraulic gantry system was used in conjunction with an 800 tonne Enerpac strand-jack system atop 80 foot (24 metre) girder beams. These spanned a shaft that was 50 ft (15 m) wide and 200 ft (61m) deep. The TBM components were then lowered into position. There were six main components that had to be lowered into position and the total assembled weight was 609 tonnes. PSC then skidded the TBM assembly components laterally into a starter tunnel by approximately 300 ft (91m) by utilising its 1000 ton hydraulic ‘Up & Go’ skidding system from Hydra-Slide.


Although highly complex and potentially dangerous work, the job went smoothly and safely. This was, in part, thanks to the Lift-N-Lock cam locking technology which is integrated into all of J&R Engineering’s full-size gantry systems. “The Lift-N-Lock system was developed in 1989; the particular model used in this job, the T1402-4-39, was developed in 1998 and has many years of proven field service,” states Johnston. “The model is very popular and its usage spans many industries, including automotive, power generation, machinery moving, etc. All J&R Engineering full-size gantries feature our exclusive Lift-N-Lock cam locking technology, which provides true continual load protection throughout the duration of the lift. In the unlikely event that a lift cylinder or lock valve loses pressure or otherwise fails, our system will immediately engage to hold the load in place. We believe that this technology is far superior to other methods of load protection. The Lift-N-Lock Cam Lock System is automatically applied by a spring, which engages the cams each time hydraulic pressure is reduced in the system – thus the load on the gantry boom can never be inadvertently lowered or dropped. When normal gantry boom lifting operations resume, the cams are automatically opened by a small hydraulic cylinder.”

The integration of the Enerpac strand jack was also straightforward. “Strand jacks are often used with Lift-N-Lock hydraulic boom gantries without the need for any modifications,” qualifies Johnston. With the J&R Engineering hydraulic gantry, SPMT, and Enerpac strand jack combination, lifting, moving, lowering and skidding were all achieved with maximum efficiency.

The Enerpac SL300

Enerpac doesn’t just manufacture strand jacks; it produces a range of high pressure hydraulic tools, controlled force products, and solutions for the precise positioning of heavy loads, including telescopic hydraulic lifting gantries. Its newest product is the SL300 telescopic hydraulic gantry. According to Enerpac, the system has two stage lifting cylinders for loads up to 3,000 kN and it runs on a 61 cm gauge track. Enerpac states that the SL300 is designed to meet stringent safety requirements and complies with the safety standards set by ASME B30.1-2015. At 2,705mm retracted height, the SL300 has a lift capacity of 3,000 kN, using four legs; at stage 1 capacity is 750 kN at 4,605 mm; and at stage 2 the lift capacity is 500 kN at 6,700 mm maximum height. Each gantry is tested to 125 percent of capacity at full extension and witness-tested by a qualified, third-party organisation, says Enerpac. It adds that the SL300 is also CE-compliant.

“Providing a more advanced solution than standard lifting systems, the SL300 hydraulic gantry offers industry leading features such as a wireless control system and an integrated self-propelled drive system,” comments Peter Crisci, global business development leader at Enerpac. “It is the highest capacity gantry on our 61 cm track gauge. These features, combined with safe, reliable performance, allow our customers to satisfy their complicated lifting applications.”

Like Enerpac’s other gantries, the SL300 has self-contained hydraulics, electronic controls and an Intellilift wireless control system. The control systems allow users to operate the lift locally at each leg or use the Intellilift remote control for unobstructed views of the load. Enerpac says Intellilift provides the operator with information about the stroke, lift and load per unit and automatically corrects any unsynchronised motion of the individual units. The Intelli-Lift wireless system ensures automatic synchronization of lifting with accuracy of 24 mm (0.95 inches) and automatic synchronization of travel with an accuracy of 15 mm (0.60 inches), Enerpac claims.

For enhanced durability, the SL300 has a sturdy, weather-resistant base frame. It can also have a powered side shift for easy operation. Optional gantry accessories include skid tracks, header beams, powered side shift, lifting lugs, slings and shackles, and a tarpaulin cover.

Wind resistant

According to Enerpac, another benefit of using telescopic hydraulic lifting gantry cranes is that lifts are less affected by wind speeds than those using cranes. This is particularly useful for rail construction projects to help avoid unscheduled disruptions to train and passenger services. Enerpac says a gantry can be used at up to four times the wind speed permissible with a crane. The company also claims a gantry can be used in areas where crane access is impractical and it allows a continuous lift onto SPMT that is more efficient and safer than traditional jack and pack methods used with smaller bridge decks. For example, an Enerpac SBL900 gantry was recently used by lifting specialist Osprey Heavy Lift to prepare a replacement bridge section on a railway line near Chester, UK. “The Enerpac gantry was the ideal lifting system for this bridge deck replacement project,” said Nigel Fletcher, managing director at Osprey Heavy Lift. “Working at ground level and the ease of lifting the deck onto a SPMT made for a smooth installation of the new bridge deck.” Enerpac provides two types of hydraulic gantry systems for rail construction: the Super Lift (SL) series for lifts up to 400 metric tonnes (mT); and Super Boom Lift (SBL) series up to 1100 mT.

Enerpac claims hydraulic gantries are cost-effective to mobilise, too. The gantry’s telescopic leg can be folded down for ease of transportation, either on a flatbed trailer or in a container. Once on site, the gantry allows the new deck to be completely constructed on site at ground level, avoiding the need for working at height requirements.

Lift and rotate

Enerpac has also developed a 450 ton, lift and rotation strand jack gantry. The company claims it is the first of its kind to feature a rotating unit, enabling the lift and rotation of large turbine equipment during power plant installation. According to Enerpac, the main challenge for logistics companies in the power generation sector is the installation of new equipment. Loads are typically transported on trailers positioned parallel to the power plant; however, the equipment needs to be lifted and installed perpendicular to the trailer. Enerpac’s solution is a strand jack gantry with lift and rotate capabilities for loads up to 450 tons to a height of up to 15 metres.

The Enerpac strand jack gantry comprises four modular support legs supporting an overhead skid track for an Enerpac SBL1100 gantry. Two 200 ton strand jacks are positioned on each gantry beam. The strand jacks are, in turn, connected by steel strands to a centrally suspended, custom-made rotation unit and lifting beam. The lifting beam allows the load to be rotated by 90°. Enerpac says this is a unique feature for a gantry. “The strand jack gantry design combines the strength of strand jack lifting with the flexibility of a hydraulic gantry, and an innovative load rotation capability, to provide a highly capable lifting system for heavy loads,” says Enerpac director, Jeroen Naalden.

The Enerpac heavy lift, 450 ton, lift and rotation gantry is designed such that the entire gantry can be transported in multiple standard containers for ease of deployment at port logistics centres and power plants. It was developed and manufactured at Enerpac’s Integrated Solutions facility in Hengelo in The Netherlands.

Looking to the future, Enerpac plans to launch a number of accessories for its newly redesigned gantry side shift systems that it claims will provide added functionality. The new gantry side shift designs are modular, allowing them to be scaled to fit a variety of gantry sizes. For example, Sling Tool is a steel structure which can be placed on the anchor block for direct sling attachment with radius. In addition, Enerpac will include a storage frame with each set of side shifts. We will, of course, bring you all the details as and when they are released.