Red, White and You

The 4th of July is normally a celebratory time a day of fireworks, picnics and displays of national pride.  But this year the holiday arrives in the shadow of a pandemic and against a backdrop of national unrest.

This unrest, in the form of protests across the country, have put race relations in the spotlight. Historical symbols have been toppled and long-held beliefs have been challenged. You may have observed these actions as they unfold on news reports or social media and wonder where you fit in. 

It all boils to respect. 

The discussion of racism in America mostly focuses on changing institutions and the government. We blame the system, which somehow makes it out of our control.  But each of us – all races – have a part in addressing the problem of race. As individual citizens, we have to respect one another.

July 4th celebrates freedom and American independence, the power of the individual. We individuals have more power than we think to end racism.   

America has always been a great country, but also an imperfect one.  Slavery was our original sin and while some may think we are far removed from that history, we are obviously still feeling its sting today.  It is the responsibility of its individual citizens to ensure the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence and our other founding documents are lived out. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is up to each on one of us to make sure our great country is made even greater by adhering to the words of Martin Luther King that people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” 

As you celebrate the 4th, be respectful of one another.  Wear a mask. Social distance. Change must start within each individual heart. We can’t lay the solution to racism at anyone’s feet but our own.   

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Barnhart’s Mount Vernon and Kent, Washington branches joined forces to perform a joint venture tower crane dismantle in Seattle. 

The team set up a GMK7550, an all-terrain mobile crane, with 264,000 pounds of counterweight and Mega wing attachment and 200 luffer. They utilized an LTM1090 to install the luffer from one position in the crowded corridor. To help with the ground bearing pressure restrictions (due to an underground vault for utilities), the team utilized 8’ x 16’ engineered steel mats, wood ramp mats, and 8’ x 10’ engineered steel mats for proper ground bearing pressure displacement.

There were several other challenges to work around. Metro-trolley wires to the west had to be avoided, and the proximity of a four-story brick building allowed just 1’ of clearance for the mega wing attachment. A tree to the north had to be trimmed for the counterweight to clear. The jib assembly had just 1’ of clearance to the east and the crew had to short rig it for the tower tip to clear. 

Plus, there were lots of pedestrians.   

Once the crane was in place, the crew dismantled the tower crane and Barnhart lowered the pieces to awaiting trucks in the narrow street. It took over 15 loads to remove all the pieces. Despite the challenges, the project was completed in just two days.  

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Planning and Engineering Result in Safe Delivery of Large Load

While one of Barnhart’s specialties is heavy haul, considerable planning and engineering is always required, particularly when large loads are moved. That was the case with a 105-foot-long pressure vessel that was recently hauled.

Barnhart was delivering the vessel from a fabricator in Paramount, California, to a site in Boulder City, Nevada, a distance of 490 miles. The vessel weighed 310,000 pounds. It was hauled by a 10-line Goldhofer and two push trucks, making for a combined total weight of 548,450 pounds and an eventual length of 180 feet.

According to Josh Havelka at Barnhart Crane and Rigging, the size of the transport, both length and weight, was a challenge. “First, you had to find routes that would accommodate the size and make sure the bridges along that route would be able to support the weight of the load.  Plus, with a load height of 22’ tall, that meant finding a route that avoided all structures that cannot be moved such as bridges and overhead signs.”  

In addition, almost all wires had to be lifted along the route, which involved coordination of utility companies and cable companies, along with private bucket trucks for miscellaneous low wires. Coordination with the California and Nevada departments of transportation was also required.

In some instances, the route involved going through communities late at night to avoid traffic like Needles, California, where utilities, cable and internet crews awaited the vessel’s arrival around 11 pm.  According to Fox News, a few people from the community braved the brisk evening air to watch the event.

Utility lines and traffic signals needed to be raised in order for the pressure vessel to pass underneath. Last minute detours also had to be accommodated, as some residential streets could not handle the heavy load. 

The Goldhofer trailer also had to be shortened to allow the convoy to make tight turns, including a turn onto the on-ramp to westbound Interstate 40. Once on the interstate, the California Highway Patrol stopped eastbound traffic so that the vessel could cross the eastbound lanes to exit onto Needles Highway.   

The vessel was delivered successfully due to the combined efforts of Barnhart’s preplanning and field team. All the third parties along the route, including the California and Nevada highway patrol, city and county inspectors and those involved with permitting, were also instrumental in the project’s success.

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Ten Rules for Crane Operators

Barnhart has hundreds of employees across the United States who perform thousands of projects a year safely and successfully. We empower all our employees to be actively engaged in safety and offer plenty of training and guidance.

Here are a few rules for crane operators we’d like to share.    

  1.  Always work safe.
  2.  Always follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
  3.  Always familiarize yourself with your equipment.
  4.  Always refer to the crane capacity charts.
  5.  Always ensure lifts are properly rigged.
  6.  Never operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  7.  Never leave crane unsecured.
  8.  Never operate in the blind without the assistance of a signal person.
  9.  Never allow anyone to ride the load or ball.
  10. Never side load a crane.

In any situation, safety always comes first. Your safety, along with your colleagues, customers, vendors and the general public are paramount.   

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Hauling oversized cargo sometimes requires some unusual solutions. In this instance, Barnhart was hired to transport nine components, one of which was a 200’ long column vessel, from a fabricator to a fracking unit at a refinery in Texas. The journey of this vessel was recently featured in Waterways Journal.  

The column was manufactured at a shop connected to the Houston ship channel where it was loaded onto a barge. It was barged to Freeport, Texas and offloaded to two 12-axle EastTrac trailers. The total length of the convoy including the trucks was 317’ long. The column was then hauled 50 miles to the plant site.   

But the last leg of the trip was almost a bridge too far. At 800,000 pounds, the cargo was too heavy to cross the Hwy. 35 bridge over the San Bernard River. The Texas Department of Transportation required that Barnhart used both sides of the bridge – all four lanes. 

According to JC Lake, operations manager of the Houston branch, “After we measured and checked that it would fit on both bridges, the engineers were able to pass us on the permit,” he said.

Barnhart used a paved crossover to get the load separated. Ten road signs had to be removed around the bridge. Both ends of the column vessel were on 300-ton turntables to help maneuver the cargo.  

There was enough length between the bolsters to successfully get the two trailers on each bridge span. While the bridge was closed to north and southbound traffic, the load made its way across the bridge at 5 mph. It cleared the guardrails by approximately four feet. The team used a paved crossover on the other side to get the convoy back together.

Once at the site, the team offloaded the vessel to jack stands and placed it on 12-line PST’s for transport into the plant.

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Seeking the Good in a Difficult Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, which is observed around the world. It commemorates Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, his passion, crucifixion, and death. 

Right now, all of us are making sacrifices due to the coronavirus with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.  We’re unable to see our loved ones or take part in traditional observances.

Then there are those who are risking the most important thing – their lives – to take care of us. The first responders, our EMTs, policeman, firemen and medical personnel are on the front lines of this pandemic.  There are also those essential workers who are keeping our lives running: utility, garbage and city workers, those who deliver food, fill our prescriptions and check us out at the grocery store.  

Many jobs have also been sacrificed and savings lost.

All may seem a little bleak now. Perhaps for all of us – even non-believers, this Good Friday is keenly felt. For Christians, Good Friday is a time of sorrow and mourning and reflection.  And aren’t we all feeling that right now? Mourning the loss of our normal lives and routines. Forced into a period of reflection brought on by lives that have shed their everyday anchors, feeling fearful and uncertain…for now.

Just two days from now is the promise of Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Though things may feel bleak and uncertain now, this crisis will eventually be behind us. There are better days ahead. And the promise of Easter awaits.

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10 Tips for Working from Home

The coronavirus has forced many of us to start working remotely from home. It is an adjustment, particularly if your spouse and kids are there as well. Still, it’s important to keep a work mindset, even when you’re home.  Here’s some tips.

  1. Create a separate workspace.  A counter in the kitchen, the couch or the bed isn’t an ideal work environment. Have a designated workspace with a comfortable chair, a desk at the right height and good lighting.  And preferably one that has a door.
  2. Keep regular hours.  It might be tempting to sleep a little later and work a little later. Stick to your regular schedule. Post your hours for the rest of the house to see.  When the work day is over, it’s over.
  3. Get ready for the day. You may want to stay in your pjs, but act as if you’re going to work.  Take a shower and look presentable, even if you are in more casual clothes. It really affects how you approach your work. Plus, you’ll also be ready for the video conference call later that day.   
  4. Check your bandwidth. Your internet access may not be up to speed, literally, to handling the additional load of everyone at home. Some companies are offering free upgrades during this time. 
  5. Set boundaries. This not only applies to the people you live with, but with your pets as well.
  6. Move – Think about the amount of times you walk to the printer or the office of a colleague at work. You don’t have that at home.  Set a timer to make sure you move around periodically. Use your lunch break to take a walk with your spouse or dog. 
  7.  Embrace technology. Technology has made it easier to meet with your colleagues with Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts. Noise cancelling headphones are also a good investment.
  8. Communicate – Casual water cooler conversation and updates go by the wayside when we’re stuck at home.  Keep bosses and colleagues informed on what you’re working on or challenges you might be facing. That also helps you feel less isolated.    
  9. Take breaks. According to an article in Inc. the most productive people take a 17 minute break every 52 minutes. So if for you it’s an hour with a 15 minute break, set a timer and take that break. That’s also a good time for you to move.  
  10. Minimize distractions. Dogs, children, social media, laundry, news updates. Distractions abound at home.  Shut them out and check back in during those breaks. 

Remember, we’re all in this together. So stay strong, be kind and keep healthy.  

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Coronavirus: Stay Calm and Think of Others

The news about the coronavirus and the mounting numbers of those affected is inescapable and alarming. Schools are closing statewide.  Companies are urging their employees to work from home.  Any event that might draw a crowd of more than 50 has been cancelled and we’re all advised to stay six feet apart. Plus, the worst-case scenario projections of who will eventually contract the illness are terrifying.   

It’s easy and understandable to get caught up in the panic. But by now we should all know the drill about how to best avoid getting sick. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • For other tips, visit the CDC website

It’s worth repeating that the coronavirus has not and will not be fatal for the vast majority of people. Most of those affected, Tom Hanks among them, stay home and fully recover.  But it is also known that adults over 60 and people with severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk and make up a large percentage of those who have died.  If you are a younger person unconcerned about how the coronavirus could affect you, think about how your presence could affect your uncle, your grandmother or your parents and take precautions.

In some cases, the virus is bringing out the worst in people. But it’s also an opportunity to express our humanity in how we treat the most vulnerable. Instead of stockpiling more items than you and your family can possibly use, ask your elderly neighbor if they need anything and leave some supplies (disinfected first of course) at their front door. 

A recent article in the National Review asks “Will the Coronavirus Change Us?”  Perhaps it will, for the better.

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Gantries Play Essential Role in Mill Stand Installation

Barnhart was hired to install four 27-foot tall mill stands weighing 250,000 pounds apiece and several other components at a manufacturing plant in South Carolina.  The site was still under construction and had a foundation that had different levels and variations.

The crew set up 600-ton gantries and assembled 60 feet of gantry tracks to span the pits. The stands were loaded onto a hydraulic platform trailer and driven into the building at elevation between the gantries.

The mill stands were attached at the top to multipurpose girders and a 200-ton swivel to the outbound gantry and at the bottom to 500-ton inboard gantries. They were upended by retracting the inboard gantries and extending the outboard gantries.

Once fully upended, the entirety of the load was supported on the outbound gantry system. The inboard gantries were retracted and the mill stand was set to anchor bolts. 

Barnhart also installed three gearboxes and two motors, which required breaking down the gantry system and reassembling it at another part of the plant. The components were placed onto a light slide system to be slid under the 600-ton gantries and moved into place. 

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Barnhart was hired to remove and replace a reactor at a chemical plant. The reactor was 11’ diameter and 20’ long and the only access was through the roof. The crew also faced a tight setup area for the crane and a limited staging area.

To gain access, a 14’ X 14’ roof hatch was fabricated by the customer. While the team was building the Liebherr LTM 1400 mobile crane, the new reactor arrived. It was loaded and staged onsite on a Barnhart trailer so it could be moved into position when ready. This saved the customer money, as offloading in the laydown yard would have required remobilizing a crane and truck.

The 500-ton mobile crane had 86’ of main boom with 125’ of luffing jib and 275,500 pounds of counterweight. The reactor weighed 43,000 pounds at 135′ radius for the lift. The team navigated pipe racks and power lines and faced windy conditions. 

It took five days to build the crane, lift material in the building so the structure could receive the new reactor, remove the old and install the new reactor through the hatch and demobilize. The job was completed safely and on schedule.

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