08/06/2012 - 04:00 am

Konecranes Provides Cranes for Canadian Aluminum Plant

Rio Tinto Alcan has selected Konecranes, Springfield, Ohio, to provide two 225-ton SMARTON powerhouse cranes with tandem lift capability for its aluminium smelter in northern British Columbia. The turnkey contract also includes installation, remote diagnostics and an operator training package.

Rio Tinto Alcan’s BC Operations, based in Kitimat, British Columbia, supplies the majority of the aluminum products for the Pacific Rim area. The smelter is currently undergoing a $3.3 billion modernization that will be powered exclusively by the hydro power from the company’s wholly-owned power facility, located 55 miles south of Kitimat on the Douglas Channel.

“The same concern for safety and redundant systems characteristic of Rio Tinto Alcan’s operating mandate is what led the organization to look at options for their powerhouse cranes,” said Joseph Botros, regional sales manager for Konecranes. “Initially they asked for options on modernizing the existing 50-year-old cranes, but soon moved on to looking at new crane technology that could assist crane operators and maintenance people working in a remote location.”

The two SMARTON cranes purchased by Rio Tinto Alcan each have a capacity of 225 tons. Each crane has two auxiliary hoists, facilitating handling of diverse equipment for maintenance purposes, including water pumps, circulating pumps and the rotors themselves. Each crane has one monorail hoist plus an auxiliary trailer that follows the main hoist. The two cranes together can perform tandem lifts with a combined capacity of 450 tons.

“This is a remote location, handling heavy and valuable loads,” says Botros. “Capital operating equipment at the site has a significant financial value, and employee safety is paramount. So, safety technologies like anti-sway and shock load prevention have a corresponding importance to protect equipment and personnel.”

The cranes will be built in Franklin, Ohio, and delivered and installed in July 2012. Installation at this location also presents a unique set of challenges. The delivery will be by barge, and the cranes will be installed inside an excavated mountain cavern.

“We had several divisions working together on this project, in addition to our crane manufacturing operation,” says Botros. “Konecranes Service group is assisting with startup and load testing; our Training Institute is performing the after-install training for Rio Tinto Alcan’s operators and maintenance people; and we have remote diagnostics specialists coming from Finland to connect the new cranes with our network. Rio Tinto Alcan requires a state-of-the-art crane package that could keep them in business for at least another 50 years.”

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