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EQUIPMENT DIRECTORYBELOW THE HOOK more news at www.heavyliftpfi.com Innovation advances below the hook


Below-the-hook lifting is rarely afforded the same kudos as the Herculean efforts of cranes but its role is vital. It has direct contact with the load and secures it during the lifting operation. Kevin Willmott reports.


advancement would be false – whether regarding lifting or spreader beams, slings, grommets, frames, grabs, hoists clamps, magnets or rigging equipment such as rope, shackles, rings, hooks and turnbuckles. Burgeoning lift weights and dimensions, and challenging offshore or polar environments, along with evolving safety legislation and innovations in synthetic materials and radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging, ensure developments continue apace. The overriding trend


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according to Modulift UK, the manufacturer of a family of spreaders and equipment such as frames, shackles and slings, is the need to move ever-larger pieces.


“Each year there is uplift in the number of enquiries for heavy lifts and this year is exponentially off the scale,” declared Sarah Spivey, managing director. “So far this year we have had 80 enquiries for 400-tonne plus spreaders and eight have been for 1,000 tonnes plus.” For Modulift, which stocks


spreaders up to 400 tonnes capacity and regularly manufactures 1,250-tonners to order, customisation is required on two fronts: where a standard product is enhanced with a higher grade steel or finish for a specific environment; and where a specific kit is


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ny assumption that below the hook is not an area of engineering


There are 18 models of the Van Beest Green Pin shackle, including special versions for polar and ROV subsea work.


such as those required for wind turbine movements, Modulift has developed a lattice spreader with a span of up to 100 m. Another way of reducing overall rigging weight is in the use of alternative fibres to steel wire rope, although synthetics are more susceptible to damage such as cutting. High-performance synthetics typically offer a weight of about one-seventh of steel and are weightless in water, but with the same strength as steel. However, under the EU


manufactured for unique and heavy lifts.


“Between the two, that is


50 percent of our business now,” explained Spivey. Modulift has striven to satisfy the high engineering


specifications of the oil and gas sector, including obtaining globally recognised DNV (Det Norsk Veritas) design approval, and now has a dedicated department to handle this business, while developing capacity to cope with lift requirements up to 5,000 tonnes.


Lack of standards


According to Spivey, the design and supply of kit such as spreaders would be more straightforward if a consistent global standard was available to cut through some of the current confusion, which results in manufacture to an unnecessary standard because clients want to minimise their risks. Often, Modulift is asked to achieve a standard that simply is not attainable, such as building a spreader to the same specifications pertaining to the building of a rig. The UK based Lifting Equipment Engineers


Association (LEEA), which has over 1,000 members globally, and publishes best practice and encourages use of the EU-compliant Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER), is addressing non-fixed load lifting attachment standards, currently enshrined in BS EN 13155, to achieve something more relevant for new equipment. Current requirements are


considered excessive in design with a blanket factor of safety twice the safe working load weight. Thus, a 1,000-tonne spreader has to be designed to lift 2,000 tonnes. LEEA favours the International Labour Organization’s approach, whereby the factor of safety is based on a sliding scale, which decreases in percentage terms as the workload is increased. Among other trends in


product usage is a desire to lighten total rigging weights. Modulift reports that lifting beams are often replaced on lifts over five tonnes with spreader beams where headroom is not an issue. Spreaders are lighter and, in the case of 1,200-tonnes/60 m span, cost is a mere fifth of a lifting beam. For lighter, but longer, loads,


Machinery Directive, slings made of wire rope carry a factor of safety of five to one, whereas fibre versions need to be designed to carry seven times the load’s weight. Moreover, in Europe, at least, as well as pre-use inspection, fibre slings are subject to competent examination every six months, whereas steel wire has an annual requirement.


Fibre slings


An exponent of fibre slings is US based high-performance rope manufacturer Samson, whose engineered solutions for lifting and rigging include high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) such as Dyneema – a constituent of the company’s Amsteel-Blue 12-strand fibre rope. These HMPEs are now incorporated into about 80 percent of Samson’s catalogue. “There are more stringent inspections and time criteria involving synthetics,” agreed Dennis Sherman, Samson’s director-offshore technologies. However, fibre has inspection and maintenance advantages. “Wire typically fails from the inside out,” he said. “Fibre rope is easy to inspect and open up to see what is going on.” Synthetic rope’s seven to one safety factor allows for an element of redundancy and Sherman maintained that by


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