Experience

Removal of hoist drum and wire rope changeout at Texas steel mill

Safe mechanical handling solution to improve equipment integrity

A steel mill based in Texas, engaged Sparrows to fix an issue with their 220t overhead crane. The crane's hoist bearing had failed, requiring the hoist drum to be removed for the bearing's changeout.

With the crane running non-stop in the steel mill, general wear and tear was causing issues that could have serious consequences both in terms of safety and operationally. The crane's hoist bearing had shredded with pieces dropping onto the workspace directly below the crane. Through necessity, the mill had also been running the crane with the bearing failure, which had led to significant pin damage. Without repair, the crane would eventually seize up, becoming non-operational.

The bearing needed to be changed out on very short notice. Sparrows quickly mobilised a team comprising lead mechanics, qualified riggers and certified crane operators who worked closely with the engineering and design department as they compiled a thorough and precise lift plan.

With the hoist drum removed and the bearing sent off for repair, the client wanted to take the opportunity to replace the crane's four main hoist ropes. Changing these four ropes all at the same time requires a detailed lifting plan and excellent communication between all members of the team. With four riggers stationed at the top of the crane to ensure the ropes do not tie into themselves, synchronisation through planning and communication is crucial.

The safety of our team and the clients we work with is always our top priority. With so many moving parts, key considerations must be in place on a job like this. Our team must remain acutely aware of their surroundings, with drop hazards and potential fall areas identified during toolbox talks and reminders on 100% tie off and fall protection being communicated to the team throughout.

Having a lift plan in place and thoroughly briefing team members on the plan must be accompanied by continual and consistent communication throughout the job.

The team must ensure they are prioritising safety at all times. 100% tie off and fall protection is essential, and though we will always work as efficiently as possible, this cannot come at the expense of health and safety. On a task like this, the team must ensure they are working steadily and with due care and attention.

The job was not without its challenges. The lift plan had to change as weight and centre of gravity assumptions differed from the initial client briefing. However, our engineers worked closely with our experienced riggers to adjust the plan to suit the correct data.

Removing the drum required two days of work, with another two days needed on our return to the mill to install the main rope. Upon completing the job, we advised the steel mill on the importance of lubricating the bearing, advising them to consider an auto-lubrication system that could prevent future damage.

In giving this advice, we aim to mitigate the risk of failure and increase the longevity of the client's equipment - an element we believe is essential in every task we undertake.

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