The heavy lifting industry is a can-do business environment where work ultimately go to those operators that demonstrate that they have the ingenuity necessary to solve any problem.
And when a challenge arises that is beyond the capacities of current lifting equipment — there’s not quitting; it’s just back to the drawing board to build a bigger and better machine.
The Netherlands-based Mammoet is one such heavy lifting and transportation company whose impressive exploits around the world are testament to this skill set. Through trial and error, the firm’s apparent knack for coming up with the lifting solutions for the most unconventional and challenging projects have positioned it as a global leader in the industry.
The company’s latest and most extravagant project was conducted last year, and saw the firm lift, skid and install a 36,200-tonne arched shelter over the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant site. Neither was that the first nuclear clean-up for Mammoet, which also raised Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, from the seabed in 2001.
In 2017, however, Mammoet’s sights are trained on a more conventional challenge: wind turbine erection — but true to form, the company is proposing two solutions for assembly and maintenance that are just as innovative in their design and hold potentially momentous implications for wind energy.
The first, the WTA 250, is designed for assembly operations, and will climb wind turbines using a guide rail built into the mast structure, while the second, the WTM 100, is designed for maintenance operations, and will use hoists eyes — again built into the mast structure — to pull itself up to a turbine’s hub height to deliver new parts to the nacelle.
Both will use the mast of a wind turbine as their primary support, which in turn allows them to lift and lower heavy components to the height of a wind turbine’s hub, or nacelle, with much greater efficiency than a conventional lattice boom crawler or mobile crane setup.
The development work is being led by Wessel Helmens, the company’s director of innovations and a veteran of the offshore and heavy lifting industries. He has two decades of experience with Mammoet, and it began with the Kursk.