The final bridges in the project to link the islands of Honshu and Shikoku in Japan are due to open in 1999, after nine years of construction.

Sections of the bridge, weighing up to 540t, are delivered on barges and hoisted into position using groups of eight Liebherr diesel-hydraulic winches installed at the base of the bridge towers.

The winches were developed specifically for the project and they are powered by Liebherr’s 224kW turbo diesel engines. Each winch has 2,800m of 32mm diameter hoist rope, is 1.7m wide, and has a rope pull of 175kN.

Parallel or individual operation is computer controlled from a cab that also features safety monitoring systems. Each winch has four mechanical/hydraulic braking devices. According to Liebherr, the design is such that even if a winch fails or a rope ruptures, operation can continue at reduced speed.