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When Failure is Not an Option: Fourteen Day Installation Completed in Four Days

RPA Engineering is sharing the success of another project in their structural engineering division with the 25/10 ton crane installation completed at a vacuum induction melting shop (VIM) in the Philadelphia area. VIM shops utilize electric currents to melt metal with a vacuum.

The 25/10 ton crane was to run on an over 400 foot long existing runway, would have a 247 foot span, and would be serving 2 VIM furnaces. Acting as a sister to the existing crane, the new crane would have matching 25 ton main and 10 ton auxiliary hooks. The new crane would utilize state of the art VFD controls, with a top running speed of 300 feet per minute, which required anti-collision devises to prevent collision with the sister crane and from overloading the existing runway.

The project was led by Eric Roth, P.E. LEED AP. Eric is a senior structural engineer with more than 35 years of experience in steel and concrete structures and a project manager at RPA Engineering. The crane was installed in December of 2017, yet wasn’t fully operating until the crane fit out in January of 2018, and the bracing which was not done until Memorial Day 2018.

Roth worked to develop the drawings, determine specifications of the project, and evaluate the cost of installation for the new 25/10 ton crane at the VIM shop. With the help of 6 different contractors, Roth was tasked with fulfilling the main goal of the crane installation, which was to increase production at the VIM by 20%. By adding a second crane to the runway, both cranes would have the ability to work independently. This independence would ensure that both cranes could work at their maximum efficiency without being impacted by the other. The instillation also allowed for one the cranes to be maintenanced without stopping production.

The crane manufacturer indicated that the installation would take 14 days. However, the plant production schedule left the team with only 4 days for the crane installation. Two of these four days were Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Essentially, the team was given 2 days for what was evaluated to be a 14 day installation. Roth knew he had to rework his initial plan.

“Failure is not an option and hope is not a plan,” was Roth’s mantra throughout the project. The team had to be ready to punt and change their game plan on the fly. The solution? Break the project into several smaller projects which could be completed before the installation date.

These smaller projects included repairs to the trestle, asbestos abatement, crane fabrication, electrical service upgrade, runway electrification, and more.

While this plan gave the team the opportunity to give all their focus to the crane installation on the two days provided, it also had its cons. With the VIM being open 24/7 and 363 days a year, there was little time for the team to be able to complete their prep projects. This left many projects set to be completed during weekend and night shifts. Nevertheless, Roth and his team persisted.

One week before installation day, the crane manufacturer asked for a two-week extension. Roth denied the extension and had to change his game plan again. Extending the installation date for two weeks would be a failure. What could be done in two days? The solution was simple. Install the dead crane body and complete the crane in the air after the two installation dates in a “safed” off area.

The crane was successfully installed over the course of two rainy days in late December, and was completed in the air over the following two weeks.

At RPA, our core values are integrity, innovation, and quality. Through success stories such as these, we see how the core values we were built on, continue to make us a leader in the engineering world. Success is not only measured by completion, but by the ability to face problems head on and determine the best solution. The 25/10 crane installation project is a perfect example of this.

Through the work of Roth and his team, this project was a success in construction and an inspiration to all about how to prevail in the face of adversity. Our core values can not only be heard and read, but can be seen in the work we do day in and day out.

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