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Crane Hot Line

Caldwell Adjustable Lifting Beam Works in Antarctica

An adjustable, custom-designed, 101,413-lb. capacity lifting beam played a key role in the latest phase of wharf modernization at a research facility in Antarctica.

The Caldwell Group Inc., Rockford, Illinois, designed and manufactured the lifting system to perform in the harsh, cold environment at the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station.

Caldwell’s UK partner, Bishop Lifting, delivered the model 24S-46t-315 adjustable-bail lifting beam to BAM Nuttall Ltd., a Dutch contractor that is working in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey to deliver civil projects associated with the new research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough.

BAS is part of the Natural Environment Research Council. NERC owns the Attenborough, and BAS operates it for scientific research and logistics projects.

The new wharf will provide safe berthing and efficient operations for the iconic ship.

The Caldwell-made 27-ft.-long lifting beam will be used for lifting sections to construct the new wharf. It was designed by Dan Mongan, special-application support, new-product development specialist at Caldwell.

Mongan said Antarctic cold, steel alloy selection, welding processes, and type of paint were all important considerations in the beam’s design and manufacture. The beam was based on Caldwell’s standard model 24 adjustable-bail lifting system but offered higher capacity. “Bail” refers to the center connection that the crane’s hook attaches to.

The beam is 24’ long, 4.5’ wide, 6.3’ high, and weighs 10,100 lbs. It was provided along with two patented model 52-58 adjust-a-leg wire rope slings with 22’ reach. The rig will eventually be used to lift 20 wharf frames, each weighing 77,162 lbs. or more.

Ben Gates, business development director at Bishop Lifting Equipment, said, “The challenge was to lift heavy loads, each with a different center of gravity. The adjustable bail solved the problem in that it can be adjusted in one direction and the adjust-a-leg slings in the other.”

Mongan said: “The successful utilization of the product on such a marquee project showcases our ability to engineer and ship below-the-hook solutions globally. Further, it serves as an example of what Caldwell and Bishop can achieve together. This project involved an extensive design phase, multiple Skype calls, and collaboration of all relevant parties to arrive at the eventual rigging solution.”

As an aside, Mongan explained that adjust-a-leg slings can be locked into place for constant lifts and are ideal for use in rigging applications and machinery moving. They are often used, he said, for loads that are balanced and symmetrical, but with lifting points not located in a position for a level lift. They are also suited for use when lifting loads at any desired angle, simply by lifting the with sling legs at that desired angle.

Over the next decade, British Antarctic Survey’s Research stations will undergo comprehensive modernization to ensure facilities continue to enable world-leading research.

The new wharf is being built over two Antarctic seasons. Work started in November 2018 and is scheduled for completion in spring 2020. It will improve ship and boating operations. The rear section of the new wharf was constructed in the first season, and the front section is being attached during the latest phase.

Gates added: “This is a very interesting project. Bishop Lifting is delighted to play a part—albeit a small one.”


Crane Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.