The Saudi Arabian natural gas client refines natural gas to create usable fuel in the Saudi Arabian desert by means of special filtration processes. Within a filter station two to four 24m towers, 3m in diameter each, pass material through elements that need to be regularly changed. The covers of the towers, each weighing 16USt, have to be removed to access the filters.

Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products, based in Kissing, Germany, designed a solution to lift the covers on top of the towers and facilitate removal of the filters.

The CM engineers designed a lifting and traversing system using 19 trolleys in three different sizes, and eight gantry cranes.

The high temperatures required Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products to build an "extremely heavy-duty" system capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 50°C. It also had to be able to withstand sand and dust, and was designed for sparkfree operation in explosive environments, in line with ATEX Category 2 requirements.

Engineers installed the gantries on 24m platforms for each filter station, and ensured they moved across the platforms on rails.

Powering the movement of the trolley, drive shafts distribute the travel motor’s power to two travel drives.

The trolley moves away with the towers’ cover so that that the inside of the tower is accessible to the winches. Once the cover is removed, the gantry glides into position over the opening. Two Beta electric wire rope winches from Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products’ Pfaff-Silberblau brand lift the filter free of the tower.

The gantry travels to the pick-up position at the end of the rail where the winches lower the contaminated filter safely down to the ground and pick up a new filter.

The crane carries the new filter to its position above the tower, where the winches insert the clean filter in place with precision.

Once the filter has been successfully exchanged, the trolley transports the cover precisely back in place on top of the tower, so that it can be securely screwed down.

Columbus McKinnon and the client worked together for nine months on planning and designing the special lifting and traversing system. The entire project to installation took one year.