Sarens mobilises world’s biggest crane for UK nuclear plant lift

‘Big Carl’ to put its 5000t capacity to good use for four years on build site

A 5,000t capacity super heavy lift ring crane, said to be the world’s biggest, has been mobilised by Sarens in a UK nuclear power station build and will start operations from Monday.

According to reports, Big Carl, as the crane is named, has been assembles and rigged by the Belgian heavy lift and transport specialist at the Hinkley Point C (HPC) project and will remain on site for the next four years to lift more than 600 pre-fabricated components, the heaviest of which is said to weigh 1,600t.

Among its important lifts will be raising the dome of the structure that houses prefabricated reactor building parts. The structure is used to build large components on site in a covered, factory-like environment to improve quality and save time. Big Carl will use 12 lifting points to lift the dome, using Sarens’s Sarspin load levelling system to equalize the load, said the Belgian heavy lift specialist. The prefab parts will ultimately be lifted out of the dome and placed into the new reactor building once the the dome is no longer required.

Running on more than 6km of ArcelorMittal steel, the crane will have three lift locations, with 48.5m turning circles. These locations are linked by lengths of straight track on which the crane’s 96 travelling wheels will run. Bog Carl is also equipped with 128 wheels for slewing and lifting and the crane uses hydraulic cylinders to switch from the ring to straight rails.

The main hook block weighs 105t and has a capacity of 3,200t. While its configuration has been set, the it will be re-reeved for the heaviest lifts. The main block can take up to 60 falls of 50mm wire rope. The jib hook, meanwhile, weighs 58t and has a capacity of 1,600t, and can take a maximum of 40 falls.

Hendrik Sarens, owner and director at Sarens, said: “It’s the crane’s first job and I am confident that everything will go very well because we have done lots of testing already. Everything has gone as planned and we are ready to do the first lift.”

Rob Jordan, EDF construction director at Hinkley Point C, added: “The crane is an impressive piece of kit and a world beater. It allows us to innovate in the way we build the power station, lifting complete pieces out of our factory bunkers and into place across the site. Pre-fabrication helps us boost quality, gives better conditions for skilled workers and saves time – that’s good news for the project and an example of learning lessons from success at other projects.”

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