Pacific Builder & Engineer

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Planning Makes Perfect

Steel Fab Enterprises, of Lancaster Pennsylvania, was selected to fabricate and erect the Amtrak Train Station and Walkway in Middletown Pennsylvania. The project presented many challenges, including working next to active railroad lines, all assemblies having to be lifted by crane over de-energized power lines, and only being able to execute lifts during a four-hour window at night.

Because of these challenges, Steel Fab Enterprises pulled in crane, rigging, and industrial contractor, Greiner Industries of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, during early stages of planning to determine which crane and pick weights would be cost effective and time efficient.

“Lifts could only be done between midnight and 4 a.m.,” said Steve Fisher, President of Steel Fab Enterprises. “Not only did we have time constraints to execute the lifts, but we also had low visibility and obstructions to the lifting path.”

“Given the short timeframe to work around Amtrak’s closure schedule, Steel Fab wanted to limit the amount of time spent on field connections and crane picks, without up-sizing the crane too drastically,” said Dane Bortzfield, Project Manager, Crane Division, Greiner Industries. Steel Fab Enterprises decided to pre-assemble unitized sections of column bents, stairs, canopies, and the bridge and roof structure on an adjacent jobsite. By completing these sections off site, they were able to reduce the number of lifts needed.

Planning for Fewest Amount of Lifts
“I used 3D Lift Plan from A1A Software to re-create the jobsite so that I could evaluate site conditions from a different perspective. This allowed me to demonstrate crane set up and lifting routes for each of the 15 assemblies,” said Bortzfield.

Bortzfield needed to create a lifting path that would ensure the load, rigging, and crane boom had adequate clearance from the Amtrak powerlines and other obstructions. “Even though powerlines were de-energized during the crane work, the brief closure period each weekend required a thorough plan to detail every lift of the steel erection,” he said.

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The job consisted of two phases, which was originally going to require two different crane sizes. “The crane selection tool was used to determine that we could place a single crane on-site for the duration of the job and configure the machine as needed for each portion of the work,” said Bortzfield.

The team landed on a 600-ton Demag all-terrain crane. It required minimal jib attachments for the further lifts over the power lines, and could set the closer, heavier, pick with just the main boom. This allowed them to keep the crane setup in one location.

Risk Response
Working near live train tracks required close coordination with Amtrak officials. Train signal training was provided to all personnel so they understood the meaning of different horns, whistles, and signs. Prior to each shift, the crews held a safety meeting to ensure all the proper procedures were taken to de-energize the lines and minimize lifting near the power lines. Amtrak, Greiner, and Steel Fab, had personnel helping to monitor and guide the loads that came near the lines as the structure was erected.

“We also used the same crane operator and rigger for the entire job. This helped the lifts move smoothly and efficiently with Steel Fabs’ crew,” said Bortzfield. “Our operator participated in the Amtrak training and was encouraged to raise any concerns at each pre-shift meeting,” he said.

Communicating in 3D
“3D Lift Plan is very useful for pre-bid work, as it allows us to evaluate site conditions and better plan for unknown issues. This gave us the tools to accurately re-create a jobsite and simulate the crane work prior to mobilizing the equipment,” said Bortzfield. “We have access to crane charts and configurations, various rigging components, offsetting the load’s center of gravity, and so much more,” he said.

Dan Stoltzfus, Project Manager for Steel Fab Enterprises, liked that Greiner could demonstrate the crane setup and lifting routes. “I’m a big fan of 3D Lift Plan because it makes it very clear to the customer, and is requested more and more by the contractor,” said Stoltzfus.

“Whether it’s reaching over obstructions, lifting inside a building with low clearance, or maintaining proper tip height for rigging, 3D Lift Plan is a great tool to plan any sized project. It gives everyone involved peace of mind when planning for a project,” said Bortzfield.

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