As a tunnel-boring machine is prepared for work on a key phase of a large railway project in Sydney, Ranger Lifting, a specialist supplier of lifting and rigging equipment, has modified a vacuum below-the-hook attachment for the installation of key elements.
Ranger adapted the Acimex vacuum lifter, manufactured in France, to meet specific requirements for installing 1000 elements over a two-year period. The elements are thicker than the standard units used elsewhere because of the soil environment along the boring route.
The attachment will work with a 3t capacity, 44m-long, freestanding monorail hoist that originally had a working load limit of 900kg, which Ranger increased to 1350kg. Additionally, Ranger changed the orientation of the vacuum head 90 degrees and lengthened the support bar. Acimex manufactures all types of vacuum lifters for gripping bulky concrete, steel or PVC parts, but the adaptation of this model once again demonstrated Ranger’s ability to tailor a solution for a specific project.
“The project had a requirement to install key elements to facilitate use of a big tunnel boring machine,” Ranger Business Development Manager Leo Giuntini says. “The modernised attachment will be used to lift the elements out of moulds that are specially manufactured upside-down, so they have to be rotated in the air prior to installation. Importantly, the vacuum tool must be able to hold the segments even when disconnected from power.”
The solution represents a significant time and cost saving for the customer, as the alternative to customising the existing product would have been to source a new one from France. Upon consultation with the end user and a local engineering firm, Giuntini was able to oversee the modernisation project that delivered a suitable solution to the client. As required under Australian Standard AS 4991-2004, the new product, operated by hand grips, had to receive third-party verification and was proof loaded to 110% of the working load limit. A larger vacuum pump was also fitted for the extra capacity.
“The tunnels industry serves as an example as to why it’s always important to source lifting and rigging gear only from specialist providers,” Giuntini says. “It is one of the most challenging but rewarding sectors to serve.”