Mechanical handling engineering for tyre manufacturing plant

A bespoke engineered solution can be the only option when replacing critical equipment in inaccessible areas


  • Engineering expertise delivered a bespoke solution to overcome a complex lifting challenge
  • Single contractor to undertake complete workscope
  • Project management ensured work undertaken safely and efficiently
  • Work completed to tight timescale during planned shutdown and early finish prevented delays to plant operations resuming


  • The gearbox manufacturer was undertaking a gearbox replacement for the rubber plant in Oklahoma and needed support with a lifting solution to remove the old gearbox and put the new one in place. They approached Sparrows Group after working with us successfully on similar jobs previously
  • The old gearbox was difficult to remove as it was positioned next to other equipment and under walkway flooring
  • There was no crane in a position able to access the gearbox
  • The gearbox was being replaced during a planned shutdown to mitigate future issues due to age and wear with a tight timescale to plan and complete all the work
  • The shutdown for the area of the plant was eight days with four days in advance for the team to prepare. The replacement had to be completed by the end of the shutdown to prevent delays to the plant operation
  • Prior to the shutdown commencing, there were four weeks to undertake the engineering, fabrication and testing of the solution
  • The gearbox weighed 23 tonnes and had to be moved through the plant and in industrial elevators get from its position to the entry/exit of the building.


  • A site survey was undertaken with the onsite engineer at the plant providing access to details of the plant and the space available
  • The chosen solution was to engineer a jib crane to attach to a nearby beam above the gearbox. This was the best option to accommodate the weight of the gearbox
  • Sparrows’ multi-discipline engineering team created a custom design for the crane, including custom hinges to hold it on to the beam and a custom load chart
    The crane was manufactured and fabricated at Sparrows workshop
  • An existing spreader beam that was fabricated for another workscope was utilised to reduce the fabrication time and meet the tight timescale
  • A model of the gearbox was provided by the manufacturer for lift planning and the lift was simulated on CAD before implementation
  • The crane was built in two pieces to enable it to be taken through the plant into position
  • Part of the mezzanine walkway floor above the gearbox was removed and cabling and lighting taken out
  • The 23-tonne weight of the gearbox meant that the floor above and plant elevator wouldn’t hold the weight as one piece so it had to be disassembled
  • The gearbox was set into concrete which had to be chipped away to remove it, the studs were reconditioned and new concrete poured for the new gearbox
  • Once the old gearbox was disassembled and lifted out, it was taken through the plant and in industrial elevators to a staging area in the plant warehouse car park ½ mile down the road
  • The new gearbox was disassembled at the staging area, once the old gearbox was taken out the new one was taken into the plant the same way
  • A team of eight Sparrows technicians worked in two shifts to break down both gearboxes, remove the old one and install the new one with support from a manufacturer representative onsite
  • The replacement work onsite was completed a day ahead of schedule.
More Industrial Case Studies