The engineers gathered early in the morning at ITER’s Assembly Hall in order to review once more the arrangements and tooling to be used for the lifting of the first girder of one of the two cranes that will operate in the building.
Lifting 200 tonnes 45 metres above the ground, managing meticulously the equipment, checking the strength of the winds, balancing the load, and firmly installing the metallic structure on the roof of the highest building on-site, qualifies as a nail biting operation. F4E, its contractors and ITER International Organization (IO) have been studying every detail to carry out this task successfully. And they did! The first girder has been successfully installed. Roberto Lanza, ITER IO Responsible Officer, overviewing the operation, knows how much this means to the whole team. “It is the first girder to go up; we are all extremely excited and cautious at the same time. You get the sense of the feeling…” he says.
The slings have been connected to the crane beams and slowly have gone under tension. Then, the load had to carefully balanced and step-by-step the first metallic structure was lifted off the ground. It has taken roughly 3 hours to complete the operation and it is envisaged that by early July the entire tooling making up the four travelling cranes will be installed. As we stare at the size of this massive metallic structure being installed, Lanza explains “although this may seem as a quick operation, we have been working months on co-ordination and planning for a task which barely lasted three hours.”
Each of the girders, manufactured by the NKMNOELL-REEL consortium, is more than 46 metres in length with overall cross dimensions of about 4 x 3.5 metres. Think of the girders as the shoulders of the electric cranes that will travel between the Assembly Hall and the Tokamak building.
The heavy ITER components will be lifted by two 750 tonne cranes. Each of them will be equipped with two trolleys, each carrying a single 375 tonne hoist. All in all they will be able to lift 1.500 tonnes, which is approximately the weight of four Boeing 747 planes at take-off. The cranes will be synchronised to work in tandem and will also rely on auxiliary cranes of 50 tonnes capacity each, used for lighter assembly activities.
To watch the spectacular lifting operation click here.