The heavy lifting and abnormal loads sector has embraced Industry 4.0 and incorporated many new technologies, such as three-dimensional (3D) modelling of heavy lift solutions and real-time data monitoring, says heavy rigging and lifting company Vanguard lead sales and project manager Dale Huddy.
Heavy-duty and oversized cargo haulage solutions provider Goldhofer supplies Vanguard with Goldhofer trailers.
The greatest evidence of new technology influences in the sector relates to new equipment development by suppliers such as Goldhofer, which uses the latest engineering design tools to simulate scenarios, much like a pilot in a simulator before actually flying solo.
He explains that, from a heavy lift solutions design perspective, there is a growing trend for more illustrative heavy lift plans.
Vanguard often uses 3D modelling for its wind turbine installations, noting that the hard stands upon which turbines are built are extremely congested and, often, the lifting of the rotor requires a unique solution that is best illustrated in 3D. “Such modelling is also popular with clients, as they get a much clearer picture of what we are trying to achieve.”
Huddy notes, regarding these technological changes, that Vanguard prides itself on being able to adapt to changing market conditions and serve clients in different industries.
“Unlike some competitors, which tend to focus on one sector, such as power generation, or only on the transportation of heavy loads, we do everything – from chartering vessels and building wind turbines to installing small machines in factories.”
He adds that the company’s various income streams have enabled it to survive in the recent difficult times, while its multiskilled employees and the variety of work they can do add further value to the company.
Huddy says the uncertain economy is a big factor affecting the heavy lifting and abnormal loads sector as there is a direct link between a thriving economy and increases in capital expenditure.
“Like many other industries, when the greater economy is under strain, so is the sector. When a big industry starts investing in a new plant, we are very busy, moving large loads around the country and handling them at sites.”
However, he notes that sectors of the industry are starting to pick up again as new Independent Power Producer programme projects have started to gain traction.
Huddy says Vanguard has received a big order for the 120 MW Golden Valley Wind Farm, near Bedford, in the Eastern Cape.
Vanguard has complete scope from receiving all components in port, transporting to site, and prepopulation of the hard stands, to the erection of the wind tower itself using a large crane, and mechanical and electrical installation. The company will use a 750 t crane to erect the 46 wind turbines, he adds.
“Our on-site team will comprise almost 60 people, so we may need to subcontract a few resources for the mechanical and electric installations; however, we always endeavour to place our own resources on the job as much as possible.”
The first shipment will arrive in August and the project will take about eight to nine months to complete, Huddy concludes.