Big Carl ready for action at Hinkley Point C

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Big Carl - Sarens SGC-250 at Hinkley Point C

Big Carl, the 5,000-tonne capacity super heavy lift ring crane (with the nomenclature SGC-250) owned by Belgian headquartered heavy lift and transportation company Sarens, has been assembled, rigged, and is ready to start work at the Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station construction project. Its first lift is scheduled for Monday 23rd September.

The crane will be on-site for the next four years during which time it will lift more than 600 pieces of pre-fabricated components. The heaviest lift will weigh 1,600 tonnes. One of its key lifts will comprise raising the dome of a building that houses prefabricated reactor building parts; then it will lift these prefab parts out of the dome building and slew them into the new reactor building. The dome building is used to ensure large components can be built on-site in covered, factory-like conditions and is designed to help save time and improve quality. The dome will be lifted via 12 lifting points which will be equalised using Sarens’s Sarspin load levelling system.

The crane will run on over 6 kilometres of ArcelorMittal steel rail. Three lift locations, comprising 48.5-metre turning circles, are linked by lengths of straight track. The crane runs on 128 wheels for slewing and lifting and on 96 wheels for travelling. It uses hydraulic cylinders to switch from the ring to straight rails.

The configuration of main hook block (which weighs 105 tonnes and has a capacity of 3,200 tonnes) has now been set, although the SGC-250 will be re-reeved for its heaviest lifts. The main block can take up to 60 falls of 50 millimetres wire rope. The jib hook (which weighs 58 tonnes and has a capacity of 1,600 tonnes) can take a maximum of 40 falls.

“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. No doubts about that.”

Hendrik Sarens, Owner and Director at Sarens.

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.”

Facts about “Big Carl”

  • Claims to be the largest land-based crane in the world.
  • 250 metres tall in its maximum configuration.
  • Lifting capacity of 5,000-tonnes at 40 metre radius
  • Uses 5,200 tonnes of counterweight
  • Power by six powerpacks, with each of them comprising two engines. It can operate with just one powerpack, but at a much reduce speed
  • SGC-250 will run between three lifting locations linked by rail att HPC. In total, there is over six kilometres of tracks deployed.
Big Carl (SGC-250) working at Hinkley Point C for the next four years