Bigge on the Cover of August AC&T with LTS Lift
Today’s industrial rigging projects require Houdini-like magic, except there’s no magic involved. Expert engineering, precisely designed equipment and experienced teamwork are the basic elements needed to pull off these amazing projects. Bigge deploys its LTS Bigge Crane and Rigging is highly adept at providing creative solutions for complicated rigging jobs. For almost 100 years, the Bigge team has hauled, rigged, lifted and installed huge components in all sorts of environments throughout North America. But a recent project at the Calumet Montana Refinery in Great Falls, MT required above and beyond the normal realm of problem solving. For this complicated project, Bigge had just the solution, a custom lifting structure known as the Bigge Lift Tower System (LTS). Bigge was called on to upend and set a 950-ton hydrocracker reactor that measured 146-feet-long and was more than 14-feet in diameter, according to Bigge Operations Manager John Leventini.
“The most difficult obstacle to overcome for the reactor project was not the lifted weight, but the space and terrain,” Leventini said. “Due to schedule constraints, the majority of the unit’s surrounding construction had been completed leaving an extremely small footprint available for the reactor lifting activities to occur.”
With the site constraints, Bigge’s team realized that bringing in a huge, high-capacity crane was not the answer. There wouldn’t be any room for it to operate and safely lift the reactor up and over existing structures.
“This drove configuring our Bigge Lift Tower System (LTS) on 40-foot centers for a very small footprint of 56 feet outside to outside,” said Leventini. “The small footprint was accomplished by integrating the LTS foundations into the permanent reactor foundation to be subsequently left in place as part of the final construction.”
This provided a two-fold benefit. First, it helped to maintain the project budget by utilizing a portion of the permanent foundation as part of the lift system foundation, and it allowed for an overall foundation system that was much more compact than could otherwise be realized.
“The terrain presented a secondary challenge in that the plant road was 12 feet below the elevation of the permanent foundation,” Leventini explained. “A ramp had to be constructed to allow the reactor, atop Bigge’s 21-foot wide, 14-line self-propelled hydraulic transporter, to reach the LTS lift and tailing area.”
The LTS is a proprietary “Bigge-designed and fabricated system,” said Bigge Project and Development Manager Bob Hahn.
“Because it is modular, it requires relatively small support equipment to be assembled,” said Hahn. “A forklift, a small rough terrain crane, and a 250-ton capacity crawler crane, which was already on site for other activities, were all that was needed to assemble and erect the system.” The tailing system used to upend the reactor was a track system with a 4‑post, 700-ton capacity hydraulic gantry supporting a tailing frame. This was a high capacity, compact and economical approach, Hahn said.
The project began with Bigge’s team transporting the 950-ton hydrocracker reactor from its weld out building to its foundation within the plant.
The two LTS towers were capped by a pair of 8‑foot deep modular box girders which then supported jacking platforms that carried two 580-ton capacity computer-controlled hydraulic strand jacks. The strand jacks can be remotely operated so no personnel need be on the LTS during the lift. The strand columns were joined at a 1,200-ton capacity swivel and connected to the lifting eye of the reactor. With the tailing device connected to the reactor’s base flange, the strand jacks and tailing device lifted the horizontal reactor off the delivery trailer, and the carefully controlled upending process was underway and continued over a single shift until the reactor was vertical, rotated, and slowly set down to pre-leveled shims and its anchor bolts.
“The LTS, as designed, with its strand jacks, and the tailing device, were all standard tools but were utilized in a creative manner to fit the described space restraints and terrain issues
in an economical and safe manner,” said Leventini. “From the start of the heavy transport to the final upend and installation of the vessel, the project required a sustained effort of devising creative solutions that balanced a number of factors while remaining schedule sensitive, economical, and safe.”
The specific safety concerns for the lifting scope were working at heights due to the LTS being more than 200 feet tall. The LTS includes intermediate platforms, handrails, and caged ladders with lanyards for personnel safety. “Normal safety procedures were followed for the LTS erection, crane operations, and trailer operations by experienced Bigge crews,” Leventini said. “In making the lift approaching 1,000 tons with the LTS, there was special care taken to keep the reactor plumb during the lifting operation to avoid the potential horizontal loadings into the tower system.”