For moving heavy machinery around a factory, there are various alternatives to overhead travelling cranes, whose capacity or floor coverage may be limited. There are forklift trucks, of course, and – where headroom permits – a mobile crane can be brought in. But when it comes to moving big stuff, a hydraulically jacking gantry is often the only solution.

A specialist in this line of lifting is the Dutch company Team Heavylift, which recently used its jacking systems to relocate machinery inside the Fokker aircraft factory at Papendrecht in the Netherlands. The biggest items that had to be moved were two presses used for the production of aircraft parts. One weighed 465t and was sited on foundations 5m below ground level, the other weighed 165t and was on 1m-deep foundations. To handle them, Team used its 720t-capacity 4 Point Lift System in different configurations, in combination with conventional skidding and jacking systems. Self-propelled trailers were used to transport the presses to their new locations.

A third piece of machinery that needed moving with the 4 Point Lift System was a 25t furnace. This box-shaped structure was lifted from the ground level through a hole in the roof up to a height of 7m, and then lowered down on a platform which had been erected in the meantime underneath the furnace.

Such is the engineering input into this type of lifting project, specialist contractors can charge a premium that regular mobile crane rental companies cannot get away with. This explains why Ainscough Group, one of the UK’s largest mobile crane rental companies, has diversified into this field of engineering services. Ainscough’s range of lifting equipment includes a 500t-capacity hydraulic modular jacking system, which the company calls Big Jack. It was used recently to remove a 1,000t press at GM’s Vauxhall Motors factory in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, UK. The Danly Double Action Press had to be taken out and prepared for shipping to Ball Machinery in Ontario, Canada. The press was not lifted as a single unit, but stripped down into sections. Even so, the heaviest lift was still 133t for the press crown.

Ainscough senior contracts manager Steve Norman said that the fact that Big Jack was powered by electricity was an asset as “we do not have the problems with excessive exhaust gases and noise pollution that can occur from diesel or gas engine units.”