London’s biggest crane ready for work


The biggest crane ever erected in London is now ready to start work at the Earls Court development.

The old Earls Court exhibition centres have been demolished to ground level after two years of work on site. The AL.SK190 crane will now lift out 61 concrete beams that lie over London Underground tube lines. The large beams supported the weight of the exhibition centre and need to be removed to enable development on site.

The work is all part of a plan by Capital & Counties Properties (Capco) to build 8,000 new homes as well as a new High Street and a new five-acre park in West London.

The AL.SK190 crane was designed and built by specialist engineering firm ALE. Its maximum safe lifting capacity is 4,300 tonnes, making it the largest capacity lifting crane ever to be used in London, according to Keltbray, Capco’s contractor that has brought in the machine.

The crane has a twin lattice boom and is mounted onto a platform ring on which it slews, spreading the load to mimimise ground bearing pressure. AL.SK cranes are also available in AL.SK350 and AL.SK700 configurations, with capacities up to 5,200 and 8,000 tonnes respectively.

At Earls Court the AL.SK190 has been erected to a height of 120 metres. It can be set up with 200 metres of main boom but 120 metres gives it the reach and capacity to make all the lifts required of it. The smallest beam weighs 80 tonnes and the largest is 1,500 tonnes.

Keltbray technical manager David Rowe said: “By utilising this crane and lifting method, disruption is minimised and the crane’s high capacity and precision lifting technology will reduce the overall project timescale considerably. With the successful demolition of the former exhibition centres last year the lifting of the large portal beams is the next big task at Earls Court as we prepare the site for construction. The project team has worked tirelessly to ensure the most appropriate technology was chosen and implemented in order to minimise disruption to our neighbours.”

ALE sales manager Giovanni Alders said: “Operationally, this crane can perform lifts previously unachievable and reinforces the innovation seen throughout the whole project. We are looking forward to progressing with the project and executing the first lift.”

Capco group development director Mike Hood said: “We are making good progress at Earls Court to prepare the site for future development. The heavy lifting crane is the most visible part of this work and will be part of the London skyline for the next year.”

The first lifts will take place in late March 2017. The lifting of the portal beams will occur overnight in ‘engineering hours’ after the last District Line train has passed through the cut-and-cover tunnels underneath the beams. Work is expected to conclude by the end of 2017 when the crane will be dismantled and shipped out.

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