If your construction site is on top of a hydroelectric plant; who herself sits at the foot of a volcano; There is no access for vehicles larger than a small car. When you find yourself on a remote island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, you need to think differently about how to use your crane on the project.

However, this was the challenge that Manitowoc and local dealer GLI (Grues Levages Investissements) faced when energy company EDF (Électricité de France) won the contract to build an old Potain 427 E maintenance crane at its Sainte-Rose power station in overseas France -Department of to replace Reunion Island.

Christophe Chappaz, technical director at GLI

“We love difficult panties,” said Christophe Chappaz, GLI technical director. “And that was a difficult task. We knew that cranes from other brands were not feasible due to the load capacity limit of 1 t on the helicopter. We worked closely with Manitowoc to match the capacity, technology, warranty and assembly schedule to EDF’s requirements for this MCT 58. Combined with our experience, we were able to assure the customer that we can do the job safely. “

Valuable experience

Another reason GLI was convinced of the work was that the company had installed the original crane by helicopter at the EDF site 30 years ago. In fact, some of the employees responsible for this project were still employed at the company, so they could advise on the dismantling and replacement. This experience gave GLI the advantage when bidding for the project.

GLI was also able to compare the 427 E’s capacity to a new MCT 58, conveniently manufactured in sections that weigh less than the maximum payload of a commercial helicopter. In addition, the MCT 58 is one of the quickest and easiest to assemble.

Close cooperation

Christophe Chappaz has a strong relationship with Manitowoc after working for the company in various roles in technical support, aftermarket and Lift Solutions before moving to Reunion Island in 2012 to work at GLI.

For this project, he worked closely with the Manitowoc Lift Solutions team to ensure that each section of the MCT 58 entered less than 1 tonne and that the anchor points for the helicopter lifts were optimally positioned. Corrosion-resistant paint and stainless steel housings for the electrical components were also specified to ensure maximum durability in the damp environment on the dam.

Practice creates masters

After production, the crane was delivered to the GLI yard in La Réunion, where the assembly team practiced assembly and disassembly prior to installation in order to check the weight, the attachment points and the work plan. On the day of construction, the components were transported by road and arranged in a field by helicopter for five minutes from the construction site.

The erection of the new MCT 58 was completed in 26 flights with a duration of approx. 15 minutes each. The total erection time was about six and a half hours, which the GLI spread over two days. The vertical and rotating elements increased on the first day, the horizontal parts and the finishing on the second day.

“The helicopter’s rotor blades create a whirling wind that is difficult to deal with. So it was important that we take things slowly and steadily. You can’t rush a project like this when security is paramount, ”said Chappaz.

The project’s four GLI technicians kept communicating with the helicopter pilot by radio to ensure the process went exactly according to plan. The social distancing required due to COVID-19 restrictions posed an additional challenge, but the team adapted to get the job done safely and professionally.

The crane was secured with static fastening brackets and set up at a height of 19.7 m with a 30 m jib. The maximum load is 3 t at 20.7 m and 1.96 t at 30 m. EDF will operate the crane via radio remote control to support the dismantling of the old 427 electric crane, general maintenance work on the 3-ton cofferdams and carry out the 1 tonne water intake network and support a dam reinforcement project.

“I am very proud of what the GLI and Manitowoc teams have achieved with this challenging assignment. The crane works well and EDF is happy with the result. Good project organization and close cooperation and communication were the key to success! “Chappaz closed.