Off the scALE

27 November 2017

ALE has boosted the capacity and capabilities of some of its product lines with new equipment launches, while enhancing its transportation efficiency with a route survey tool. Sotiris Kanaris reports

On display at the entrance of ALE’s research and development department in Breda, the Netherlands, are various ESTA innovation awards. The company hopes to win some more in the future, maybe through one of its latest innovations: the AL600 girder frame, the TLG1000 telescopic lifting gantry and the Route Survey Tool.

The AL600 girder frame is the largest in the company’s line. It is able to carry loads up to 600t, 200t more than ALE’s second largest frame, the 400t AL500. It is of a modular design, which means that ALE can drive in variable configurations to optimise the transportation of the different types of loads, like steam turbines, generators and transformers.

The basic configuration uses the necks, a 15m main beam and 7m load spreaders. The short configuration involves 2 x 16 lines, while the long configurations consists of 2 x 20 lines with loadspreader extension and 5m mainbeam extension.

A key feature of the AL600 is the narrowing necks, which narrow in from the load-carrying beams to the tower on the trailer. The ends of the necks are more narrow than the trailer width, which makes it possible for the convoy to drive around narrow curves on the road without taking up as much space and removing lamp posts and other obstacles. ALE highlights these benefits, pointing out the advantages they see compared to competitors’ square frames.

Another advantage of the new girder frame is the adjustable ‘daylight’. Daylight is the distance between the main beams where the load is placed. On the AL600 this is adjustable from 3m to 6.5m.

“If we have a small turbine or generator, we assemble a narrow frame to have an optimised width for the move,” says technical director at ALE Ronald Hoefmans.

The tower on the AL600 is different to other girder frames developed by ALE, with a high turntable with strong central guide in the central loadspreader and lift cylinders with 1,000mm stroke. This design ensures there are no braking forces going through the tower cylinders.

“When a guy steps on the brake or there is an emergency stop, all the loads go to strong guidances. They can take 50% more horizontal forces than any other frame in the market,” Hoefmans says.

He adds that compared to other frames the risk of tipping over due to a problem with hydraulics is lower, because the bolster arrangement is on top of the turntable—which is high up—and not on top of the trailer.

ALE has a big fleet of trailers around the world, but Hoefmans says for this girder frame the perfect trailer is the one with widening axles ALE developed in collaboration with Goldhofer.

It also has control systems for steering, height adjustment, camera systems and shock logging, all operated from the control cabin on the rear trailer.

Now the AL600 is built, function- and load-tested in the Netherlands, it will be shipped to its inaugural project in Chile, where it will transport power station components. It will be using 80 axle lines of modular trailers in 2 x 4 file 20 configuration to bring the axle loads within the road limitations. For this job, the 15m main beam is extended with a 5m extension and the load spreaders have a 3.5m extension to reduce the bending moment in the trailers.

1,000t gantry

Alongside the AL600 in Chile will be the new TLG1000 telescopic lifting gantry, which has 1,000t capacity on four towers.

The new gantry system has been designed with a variable track width, which means it can run on standard 915mm wide tracks to 1,750mm wide tracks. ALE says this gives 100% more stability than other systems in the market.

The three stage system has 1,000t capacity at all stages, up to 12m high, which differentiates it to others says Hoefmans: “The capacity of other systems in the market reduces, the higher they go. We offer 1,000t capacity all over.”

He explains how the company achieved this high capacity at the upper height: “We have the tower with the sliding support on top, we slide it in, jack up the first stage. Then we have locking pins, locking that stage, then the sliding support opens picking up the next stage. This is how we climb up.”

He says the TLG1000 has 6% side load capacity, four times higher than the SMP30 industry standard. It has additional safety features, such as mechanical lock system and monitoring systems, to monitor ground settlements and deflections of the tower.

The TLG1000 can handle the heaviest steam turbines, generators and transformers. With its 250t per tower capacity, it can lift a 500t turbine and shift it completely over the header beams to one side of the gantry.

It is expected to be typically used on power plants to lift loads from trailers, or out of girder frame trailers, and move them around on site to install on their foundations.

However the company, sees a potential application for civil work like providing support for bridge exchange.

After the project in Chile, the TLG1000 will be sent to ALE’s branch in Argentina for use in numerous projects around South America.

A remote control transmitter was designed specifically for the TLG1000. R&D manager Harrie Smetsers says it has a load moment indicator that no other such system has, making it more similar to ones used for cranes.

Street wise

Another product that ALE launched was the Route Survey Tool. It’s a two folded system, the route survey tool which is the actual measurement unit and the drive assist tool, which gives the operator or the driver the critical information required during the drive.

“The reason for the development is that we do route surveys and with this system we are able to do them more accurately, we are able to remove human error. It is automated so there is less manual work. If you take a big regular suitcase put all the gear in, get your rental car, put it [the route survey tool] at the back of your car, start driving and it works,” says Smetsers.

At 80kph the tool records inclinations and cambers; provides 3D scanning up to 100m diameter, checks if the unit to be transported fits; logs GPS data and projects this on the map; and captures camera footage.

Smetsers says challenges of developing the system were data acquisition, finding the right sensors that can provide this information, and the processing of the data. 

“If you start driving you get a lot of information, we are trying to keep it very limited so a user can process it on a laptop. Visualisation is also very important so that you can teach easily, in a week, how to use it. The data can be easily extracted to make the documents for our clients.”

For now the company aims to use this tool on road transport, but in the future it can be used in railways, harbours and power plants.

The first route survey tool is being used in Indonesia, with ALE aiming to develop six or seven and distribute them to its branches around the world.