It was clearly not going to be an off the shelf solution. General Electric (GE) needed a heavy duty bridge crane which could lift 300t and place materials to within a few 1000ths of an inch. The job was further complicated by the low headroom that was available. The clearance between the top trolley to the top of the hoist was only 1.25m.

The precision fitting and assembly of large steam turbines and generators for GE required specialist expertise and that is where Ace World Companies of Fort Worth, Texas stepped in.

Through Zinter Material Handling, the fabricator responsible for constructing the crane, Ace supplied the trolley hoist, end trucks, controls and bottom blocks, as well as doing all the design of the crane girders. From acceptance of its bid it took Ace 18 weeks to deliver its products for the GE crane.

The job was typical of the kind of work that work Ace does, says vice president and business development director Richard Warriner. Ace is a specialist heavylift hoist and control manufacturer which works with factory crane manufacturers and fabricators, but not end-users. It has found a market where standard hoist manufacturers do not compete.

“We are a unique organisation,” says Warriner, “in the respect that we are a manufacturer of all components for the crane manufacturing industry. We do not manufacture cranes, nor do we build the structural girders.

“However, we provide complete design engineering and assist our clients with manufacturing techniques. We specialise in unique engineered hoists and components up to 500t,” he says.

End-users which have Ace components include nuclear power plants, the space agency NASA, Boeing, the Army Corps of Engineers, the US Navy and GE itself.

Ace has fabricated special trolleys for lifting flight hardware for NASA. The space agency’s requirements stipulated that the hoists had to be ‘single point failure proof’. This meant that at any point of the load path if the hoist was to fail it would not drop its load. Similar products have been designed and manufactured for Boeing.

Ace also exports some equipment to Mexico, as well as Pakistan and Turkey where its components are used in combined-cycle electric power plants. However the great majority of Ace’s products are designed for factory crane solutions in North America.

Back of a garage

Previously known as Ace Engineering, Ace World Companies was formed in the back of a garage by its founder Ace Ghanemi 13 years ago. The company now has five divisions, Ace Engineering, Ace Tronics, Ace Trucks, Ace Drives and Ace Machines. Last year the group had $15.5m in sales. And rather than just working out of the back of a garage, Ace’s 87 employees now work out of a 9,000m2 site which is situated on 6ha of own land in Fort Worth.

As well as manufacturing and designing new components, Ace carries out repair and replacement and modernisation work. “We have provided entire replacement hoists within days in emergency situations and typically provide parts and components such as drums, bottom blocks, gear reducers, wheel assemblies and controls within hours after receiving complete information,” says Warriner.

The company has a high degree of machine tool capability, he says. It typically manufactures its own gear boxes and cuts its own gearing for hoisting motions. “This gives us a significant degree of flexibility.” This tooling flexibility has lead to plans by Ace to expand its hoist line this year and the company is also researching designs for a new type of lightweight, long span bridge crane.

Ace World Companies has also recently released a line of bridge and crab travel drives and a new product catalogue of bottom blocks and sheaves, says Warriner.