Case study: Genie SX-180 boom lift

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  • Plant & Equipment

Faced with the assembly of a new ship-to-shore gantry crane with specific safety, reach and access requirements, Rich Rigging found the perfect boom lift for the job — a Genie SX-180, the first to come to Australasia,

Case study: Genie SX-180 boom lift
The Genie SX-180 boom lift helping to assemble the ship-to-shore gantry crane.

Rich Rigging, a New Zealand based company owned and operated by Murray Rich, is an acknowledged expert in the assembly, erection, disassembly, relocation and maintenance of ship-to-shore gantry cranes. But even with an impressive specialised equipment inventory of cranes, access equipment and general heavy rigging equipment, the company was still encountering logistical challenges with the access and reach needed for many facets of this specialised work.

The company turned to Genie, which had just introduced its SX-180 boom lift with 55m (180 feet) of vertical reach. With a specific project in mind, the assembly of a new ship-to-shore gantry crane at Lyttelton, Port of Christchurch (LPC), Rich Rigging was quick to place an order with Genie New Zealand distributor Youngman Richardson & Co.

Port expansion drives need for cranes

LPC is an integral part of the expansion of Canterbury, one of New Zealand’s strongest regional economies, and anticipates an increase in container volumes to 350,000 TEU (20 foot equivalent units) this year.

As part of a $26 million investment to support the increased demand LPC bought a fourth ship-to-shore gantry crane, and the timing could not have been better for Rich Rigging.

The Genie SX-180 boom lift, the tallest in the Genie range, and the only boom lift available and capable of providing a flexible access solution, was soon to be in the market. Rich Rigging specified the SX-180 boom lift in the tender as a key element for the assembly of the crane.

The boom lift was central to the safe work method detailed for this contract. With previous workplace incidents still fresh in the mind of the local authority, safety was a major issue and this Genie model was a recognised benefit for working safely at heights.

Tough deadlines

The task of putting the 1700 pieces of the crane together with tight deadlines was no small feat, even for an experienced team such as Rich Rigging.

In the early weeks of the project, the company faced major access and reach impediments in assembling the ship-to-shore crane as the top of the main beam stood 49m above the dock. Rich Rigging’s access options on hand were limited and slow as the Genie SX-180 boom lift was not on site.

A crane with a man cage was being used, but this was tedious and costly. Between lifts, the crane had to be pulled down and relocated. The available boom lifts would only reach 46m; useful for the lower aspects of the assembly, but they did not have enough reach for the main beam section which towered 49m in the air.

As an experienced rigger, Murray Rich knew only too well that the limitations of his existing access equipment were slowing down the project. The LPC project had a deadline and the inefficiencies of using alternative methods for working at height were placing a severe strain on the entire team.

The options available were limited. Bringing more equipment on site in the form of a second man cage was an expensive alternative. It was imperative that the Genie SX-180 boom lift arrive in Christchurch, both from a safety perspective and also to provide a much needed boost to productivity.

Genie SX-180 boom lift arrives

The Genie SX-180 boom lift was delivered as scheduled to Christchurch mid-way through the assembly project, where it was immediately put to work assembling the new crane.

"This was definitely a case of things lining up nicely for everyone," Rich says. "We had been keenly waiting for the Genie SX-180 boom lift to arrive.

"We were definitely feeling the pressure of our looming deadline and obviously wanted to deliver the project on time to our client, LPC. We were confident that the Genie SX-180 boom lift would be the single piece of equipment that would make all the difference."

Youngman Richardson & Co had their field service technicians ready and waiting on site to ensure that the SX-180 was operating correctly and ready for work.

"The crew learned to use the Genie SX-180 boom lift easily and quickly as they had been using smaller booms of similar capacity for many years," Rich says. "The scale of the Genie SX-180 boom lift was quite a step up for us, but a good one."

On the work site, the operators found the unit easy to manoeuvre as the SX-180 has the capability to move while fully extended.

"To have a boom free-on-wheels, capable of a working height of nearly 57m, is a great advantage for our access work," Rich says. "In addition to its height capability, the biggest benefit of the Genie SX-180 boom lift is the ability to move at height. The gain in efficiency over a man cage is substantial.

"The Genie SX-180 boom lift has nicely filled that gap between what our 150-foot lift can and can’t reach," Rich adds. "It was instrumental in the attachment of the main beam to the frame uprights, one of the most crucial areas of the construction. The SX-180 boom lift allowed us to get up to the main beam and do each connection."

That process was aided considerably through the use of the unit’s 3.5m rotating jib. Rich says that the jib and work platform are ideally sized for their needs and the articulation feature has been invaluable for manoeuvring into position.

"It’s a level of accuracy and efficiency we never could have achieved with a man basket. A fixed boom lift is by far the safest way to do a job like this. According to our operators, the hydraulics are extremely smooth and synchronized, making work — even at that height — a breeze."

The Genie patented X Chassis system proved to be an added benefit. This is an advanced, innovative design feature that spreads the load of the SX-180 boom lift and creates a massive footprint for stability. For transportation, the chassis and wheels retract and when the boom is extended, the chassis and wheels move out to form a giant X.

Safety on the docks was an issue from the outset, and the Genie SX-180 boom lift was significantly safer than the man box swinging on the end of a mobile crane. In fact, the Genie SX-180 boom lift brought an added margin of safety to the project. In the event of an incident at height, the Genie boom lift could be used to reach the main beam and higher, to retrieve workers if needed.

Immediately after the Genie SX-180 boom lift arrived on the waterfront site and was 100 percent operational, the pace of the crane assembly accelerated. The project was right back on schedule.

Coming back for more

Assembly took just over three months and the fourth ship-to-shore gantry crane was commissioned in August 2014.

With the assembly complete, the Rich Rigging crew packed away the new Genie SX-180 boom lift, together with their other equipment, and shipped it to Sydney, Australia, for the next project.

In assessing his decision to buy the boom lift in Australasia, Rich has paid Genie the ultimate compliment: He’s ordered a second one.


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