Konecranes America has delivered two of its largest industrial cranes to a Canadian hydroelectric power plant north of Revelstoke in British Columbia, thanks to the firm’s newly developed jacking tower installation system.


BC Hydro purchased two 575USt cab-operated industrial cranes for the plant’s underground turbine hall, along with a 30USt construction crane.


Konecranes’ double-girder turbine hall cranes can be synchronised for lifts of up to 1,150USt when used in tandem mode, and span 76ft over the hall to travel along an existing 800ft runway.


They also feature load-path technology, which restricts the cranes’ movement to ensure they only operate along the central line of their span when a heavy load is being lifted.


The system’s programmable logic controllers automatically shut down the hoist trolleys if there is deviation outside a pre-determined range, and also ensure heavy loads are evenly distributed in transit.


BC Hydro’s Mica hydroelectric power plant, built into the side of a mountain on the banks of the Columbia River, is one of the clean energy firm’s largest facilities.


It produces 1,805MW from four generating units located in an underground power station only accessible by tunnel, but there are plans to increase the plant’s generating capacity by another 1,000MW.


The unique location of the hydroelectric plant presented problems difficult to surmount using typical crane installation methods, explains Konecranes America’s regional sales manager Joseph Botros.


“Normal installation inside the underground facility using mobile cranes would be problematic – they wouldn’t fit in the limited headroom without removing ceiling supports. 


“Working with Konecranes Nuclear Equipment and Services we were able to utilize a brand-new technology they developed and patented in 2010 to make this challenging installation inside the cavern without removing ceiling supports or, most importantly, disrupting power generation.”


This last point was of critical importance as the facility was still being relied on to provide 15% of BC Hydro’s total power output for the country during the installation.


Konecranes Nuclear and Equipment Services’ (KNES) jacking tower was transported into the facility using tractor-trailers, and once assembled was used to install the cranes from below while allowing the weight of the cranes to be evenly distributed during the operation.


Initially developed for installations at nuclear facilities, the tower’s mode of operation, supported by a small jib arm for handling smaller loads, makes the jacking tower ideal for work in a variety critical installations.


KNES spokesman Mike Yoder said: “The Jacking Tower saves time, money and lowers risk because it is seismically qualified – in the event of an earthquake, it cannot come down.


“In the nuclear world, it’s all about risk management. If you can somehow diminish the risk, you can set yourself apart from competitors.”


Botros added: “Konecranes is accustomed to very large, document-heavy projects, and our technical solution for the installation process fit their needs perfectly.  It’s very exciting when we can bring new technology developed for one industry to serve customers in another.”


The jacking tower was first used last September at the Indian Point Power Plant in New York, and is currently the only one of it’s kind.  Designed by KNES’ in-house engineering group in New Berlin still has patents pending.