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This is a highly unusual crane design that is probably unique in the UK, if not the world

Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast has installed overhead cranes of a radical design from Street Crane Company for their new wing manufacturing and assembly facility. These meet stringent standards, supporting production. The cranes are among the most sophisticated ever made in the UK and will be used for the lift, transportation and very accurate positioning of the composite aircraft wings.

Two cranes are of 20 metre span between the crane rails and one has a 25 metre span. Crane rails are an integral part of the roof structure and each of the crane beams has cantilevered extensions to give greater reach. The crane beams are underslung from the travel rails while hoists are underslung from the crane bridge to reduce overall crane depth and give maximum working height. All three cranes use Street Crane’s ZX64 hoist and have a six metre height of lift.

The main production area has a four axis single girder 20 tonne crane of radical design. This has two hoists of 15 and 10 tonnes SWL. Known as the jiggle crane, the first hoist takes most of the weight of the wing and the second provides lateral adjustment allowing the wing to be rotated by 600mm and an additional plus or minus 300mm rotation around the beam axis.

This multi-span crane has four suspension points and an overall span of 64 metres with a cantilever at each end. The box beam design gives the strength and rigidity required, and is pin-jointed to give flexibility of movement to the crane beam so that it can flex with movements in the roof structure. This monobeam technology has been perfected by Street over the last 25 years with other examples being installed for British Aerospace, at Princess Yachts and in various military establishments.

An even more innovative crane has been installed in the assembly area. This underslung, double girder crane of eight tonnes safe working load has twin rotating hoists. This permits the suspended wings to be rotated by 200 degrees. At the same time, they can be transported across the 52metre pin jointed crane bridge. The turntable is equivalent to a small five metre crane running on a circular track between the main crane beams.

Andrew Pimblett, Street Crane’s managing director noted, “This is a highly unusual crane design that is probably unique in the UK, if not the world. We have a similar set up at Heathrow Airport with an 80 metre span double girder underslung crane, but not of the same level of sophistication as the technology at Bombardier.”

Throughout the installation, international standards have been adopted for safety, stability and precision load placement. For safety, all cranes have load capacity restrictors, audible alarms and amber flashing lights to warn of their approach. Hoist and travel motion travel speeds are variable from 400 millimetres per minute to twenty metres per minute with sensorless current vector control for accurate positioning with smooth movement. Remote radio control provides maximum flexibility and operator safety with the additional safeguard of back up by push button pendant.

The new Bombardier facility houses the production and manufacture of composite wings for its CSeries commercial aircraft family as well as the composite wing components for Bombardier’s Learjet 85 business jet. Designed for the growing 100 to 149 seat market, the CSeries family of aircraft combines advanced materials and leading edge technology. It will offer unmatched operating economics and a significantly reduced environmental footprint. To date Bombardier has firm orders for 138 CSeries airliners.

More information

Andrew Pimblett, Tel. +44 (0)1298 812456 Fax. +44 (0)1298 814945
Street Crane Company, Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak, SK23 0PH, UK
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