The RAL space facility in Oxfordshire, part of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory operated by the Science & Technology Facility Council (STFC), ordered the cranes to help manoeuvre specialist equipment around the 80,700sq ft site. The facility comprises thermal vacuum chambers, 15 cleanrooms and low-vibration chambers, and can recreate the conditions experienced during blast-off and in outer space.

Street Crane, working with main contractor Willmott Dixon, designed and installed 11 new overhead cranes with lifting capacities from 0.5t–10t.

Two further, larger cranes were then installed, each featuring specially-designed dual hoists integrated into common hoist trolleys for independent lifting operations. The main, 50t hoist is used for infrequent heavy lifts, and the 15t hoist provides a faster lifting speed and is used for smaller loads and regular use.

And a similarly-configured crane, with a 30t lifting capacity and fitted with an auxiliary 5t hoist, was also installed. The crane spans the full 35m width of the facilities hall and is used to transfer instrumentation and equipment across to the hall’s cleanrooms for assembly and testing.

Chris Lindley-Smith, sales director at Street Crane said: “We’re really proud to have played a part in RAL Space’s world-class space research and technology development facility.

“The larger cranes’ dual hoists have been designed specifically to suit the operation’s requirements on quite significant structures that both span over 35m.

“The other smaller cranes will ensure that space instruments weighing up to 10t can be lifted and moved very effectively, reliably and safely. Our ZX hoists improve performance and safety while at the same time reduce the need for maintenance. These benefits are essential in such a demanding environment, which has to meet the exacting needs of customers and collaborators.”

The project represents the second STFC facility to use cranes supplied by Street Crane; two cranes are installed at the Boulby Underground Laboratory, a £1.7m facility located 1,100m underground in Yorkshire, UK.