Power Plant turns to Barnhart Crane & Rigging For Challenging Rigging Job

Aug 21, 2002

(MOBILE, Ala.)—When the Southern Company’s Barry Steam Plant in Mobile County, Ala., needed to replace two 30-year-old feedwater heaters with two new, 40-ton heaters, company officials and contractors alike knew that the task would present some challenges.
First, the oversized components had to pass through a narrow opening coming and going. That wasn’t the biggest obstacle faced by the riggers. The real challenge was how to get a crane into what amounted to a 16-foot alley bounded on three sides by 150-foot-tall structures.

General contractor Alberici Constructors recognized the move’s logistical problems. “Two 55,000-pound feedwater heaters had to be replaced with two 87,000-pound feedwater heaters through openings seemingly too small to accommodate either,” said Jack Norris, Alberici project superintendent. “If the location had been out in the open, a typical crane would have been used. But a crane needs enough room to slew and pick up its load. There was no additional room.”

After reviewing other options, Alberici contacted Barnhart Crane & Rigging Company, headquartered in Memphis, Tenn. Barnhart’s Gulf Coast Division, located in Theodore, Ala., proposed use of its Modular Lift Tower to handle the difficult job.

Barnhart’s rigging experts had only a few days to assemble the lift system and perform the rigging operation. “This particular project was one of the most confined of all the projects we have worked on. There simply was no other way to get it done,” said Walter Burrage, Barnhart’s Gulf Coast manager.
Developed in 1997, the Modular Lift Tower requires less ground preparation when compared to a typical crane lift. It also can be custom configured for specific jobsite needs. “When it was designed, we took into account the needs of many industries, including removing and replacing nuclear reactors and condensers, erecting distillation columns in petrochemical plants, positioning generators in gas turbine power plants, and even high-capacity shoring,” said Jeff Latture, vice president of heavy contracting at Barnhart. “On this particular project, the confined space presented a challenge that could not be met with one of our typical cranes,” he said.
“I have never seen this particular type of rigging. It was an elegant solution to the problem,” said Cliff Clemons, The Southern Company’s senior engineer and project manager at Barry Steam Plant.

Because it is modular and is assembled on site, Barnhart’s Modular Lift Tower can be transported in six to eight legal truckloads, as opposed to the more than 60 that would be required for a 1,000-ton crane (many of which would be superloads). The tower is assembled in three to five days, similar to the timeframe needed to set up most larger cranes.
Another advantage of the Modular Lift Tower system is its ability to offer customized solutions to any given lift. The lift system can best be described as a giant erector set that is assembled in configurations to meet specific needs. And, while every lift brings unique demands to the system, the Modular Lift Tower is designed to meet and exceed all of the applicable ASME codes. Barnhart has utilized this unique lifting system in more than 25 lifts during the past three years.

After the Modular Lift Tower was installed on the exterior of the building, hydraulic gantries atop girders were used to move the first two water heaters out of the building, and they were then lowered to the ground. Replacement heaters were loaded onto the Goldhofer six-line hydraulic platform trailer that was driven down the narrow, dirt road to their new location and then lifted into place.

In order to keep costly downtime to a minimum, Barnhart, in cooperation with Alberici, had only a matter of days to complete the extraction and replacement of the heaters. The company completed the work within budget and ahead of schedule.

Barnhart Crane & Rigging maintains seven full service branches and four project development offices. The company also has port operations at Memphis, Tenn.; Decatur, Ala.; and the deepwater port of Mobile, Ala.
For more information, access the company’s Web site at

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