Lifting device for US particle accelerator lab

4 October 2019


The Caldwell Group has manufactured a customised lifting device for use at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois. The project was awarded to Caldwell distributor John Sakash Copmany, also based in Illinois.

The lifting equipment is being used by Fermilab to assist the building of SSR1 cryomodules—sections of modern particle accelerators—for which precision assembly equipment was required. The cryomodules are being built as part of Fermilab’s Proton Improvement Plan-II, an upgrade to the accelerator complex. The upgrade, when complete, will provide powerful, high-intensity proton beams to experiments at the laboratory, to help scientists use the world’s most intense neutrino beam to search for rare particle physics processes.

The Caldwell system offers multiple configurations and can be raised and lowered with high accuracy by hand-wheel, an operation requirement requested by Fermilab.

The system includes a 6,000lb-capacity main beam, to which two 1,500lb-capacity extension beams can be added at either end. All three beams span 371in, and the system can be adapted for the various assembly processes. The cryomodules are positioned on a track beneath the beams, and tooling is used to accurately position components beneath various lifting points.

American Rigging & Millwright Services collected the lifting system from Caldwell and installed it at the Fermilab site, after chief operating officer Scott Anderson had visited the site to shoot elevations of the floor in comparison to the elevation of the floor-mounted track system. Illinois-based Cream City Scale then completed load tests using test brackets, slings, and test weights.

Pete Sakash, of John Sakash Company, said: “Fermilab provided very detailed specifications for the lifting device, with the principle challenges for the contractor being low headroom, uneven flooring, and critical stability. Our system provides a ft. or so of adjustability but in use they’re only really going to need to utilise about 6in of that.”

Dan Mongan, special application support, new product development specialist at Caldwell, said: “The project is notable for the accuracy of assembly that we had to accommodate. Fermilab is a facility at the sharpest point of scientific investigation. Using threaded rods, the hand-wheel can position the beams to millimeter accuracy. Only the columns remain rigid as the system provides Sakash’s customer with every possible lifting point cryomodule assembly will require.”