An automated heavy lifting system being introduced to Australasia by Enerpac has demonstrated its capabilities with a smooth, precise and controlled raising of a 1500t mining shovel at a copper mine in south-western USA.

The computer-controlled Enerpac JS500 Jack-up multipoint incremental lifting system is suitable for lifting heavy machinery and electrical plant, steelwork, road and rail bridges, port structures and even entire buildings. The system was selected by Elko Wire Rope, a privately owned provider of manufactured rigging products to the mining industry, to undeck an electric rope shovel.

The entire upper works of the shovel needed to be lifted for an inspection of its bearings and for maintenance and repairs. Typically, this kind of lift is done using custom long-stroke hydraulic cylinders or a staged lift, which gets most of the task solved, but not entirely. Elko was looking for a more sophisticated, next-level solution to provide to its mining customers for this particular application, as well as for other heavy lifting jobs.

Enerpac introduced its JS-500 to the Elko team as the solution and provided extensive information on how it would work in this particular case. Each unit contains four hydraulic cylinders located in each of its corners, which lift towers of modular steel boxes and, in turn, the loads on top of the boxes.

Upon lifting the load hydraulically for clearance, a new box is automatically and precisely inserted into the tower. The load is then lowered onto the waiting tower and the weight is transferred back onto the ground. After analysing all the information and talking through the features, benefits, capabilities and ease of mobilisation and implementation, Elko chose to invest in the new product.

“It was a perfect match,” says Mike Beres, Enerpac’s Sales Director Americas for Heavy Lifting Technology. “We have the product to do the lifting of the equipment and Elko has the capability for building the attachments to integrate to the equipment. They have extensive knowledge of tooling to adapt to the shovel.”

This is the first time a shovel has been undecked using Enerpac JS equipment, says Beres. “We have had animations and idea-builders that we have shown customers, but only Elko has taken the leap with us for this application. We look forward to the partnership with Elko and what the future may bring.”

Significant prep work was required to prepare the ground for the assembly of the system for the lift. The ground needed to be levelled and compacted without any settling to withstand the 60-day project. Once the prep was completed, the shovel was moved to the maintenance area to remove its dipper sticks, bucket and any unnecessary weights that did not need to be lifted. Then it was returned to the pad for the lift, the move taking 16 hours.

The team then positioned two jacks under the main boom at the front and two under the counterweight in the rear. The alignments were checked to make sure they were lifting in the correct places, to ensure no damage would occur.

In addition to the jack-up system, Elko also used Enerpac’s EVO synchronous lift system to make small adjustments to the alignment of the pin going through the centre of the shovel as they lifted the upper revolving deck. The lift depends on the accuracy of clearing the centre pin.

“While the lift was being done, the team monitored the level of the car body and upper revolving deck from inside the machine to confirm clearance around the pin and to make adjustments to the car body with the EVO system, all while they did the lift on the outside with the jack-up system,” Enerpac Australia National Sales Manager Darryl Lange says. “This was a unique feature for shovel undecking that hasn’t been done before.

“Once the revolving deck was high enough above the car body to clear the centre pin, which was 25ft (7.6m) high, we were able to easily lower the deck down 15ft (4.6m) and build a stage and reach the revolving deck without needing ladders. The flexibility to raise and lower makes maintenance operations more friendly and ergonomic.”

Neely Hammond, Manager at Elko Wire Rope, says, “The Enerpac JS-500 Jack-up System is truly an innovative solution to use for undecking. The automation is smooth, safe and you have the ability to add barrels to the system to go as high as you need. Other products have set limits, and with this, we can go up 40 to 50 feet high (12.2 to 15.2m). We are excited to continue lifting with different heights and weights on future projects.”

The system is engineered to provide optimum safety and precision control for demanding high-tonnage lifting and lowering applications. Its uncluttered, self-contained design features simple-to-use software with automatic synchronisation of multiple networked lift points. Safety is further enhanced by step-by-step operator interaction while the system operates in auto-mode and is also pre-programmed with emergency alarms.

“Most importantly, during lifting or lower operation, no one is required under or near the load allowing workers to stay clear of potential drop zones and providing the ultimate form of safety,” Lange says.

“Jack-Up systems are ideally suited to lifting or lowering heavy machinery or structures, because they allow for precise control while keeping the area uncluttered and safe.”

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