UK heavy lifting specialist company ALE is making inroads into continental Europe, thanks to a project to open up Belgium’s Albert Kanaal to larger container vessels.
The company has used its Mega Jack system, which it has engineered to push structures of staggering weights and sizes, was utilised to jack-up the main bridge of a bridge heightening project in Genk, Belgium.
Jacking-up the bridge sections was the first phase of the project. The main bridge, with a span of 180m and weight of 4,500t, along with the two side bridges, weighing 536t each, were jacked-up 2.9m in three consecutive days. This enabled the client to adjust the foundations and finish other civil works over the following three weeks, before ALE jacked down the main and the two side bridges on the adjusted foundations. Eventually, the height allowance of the bridge for vessels to pass under was increased by 2.4m.
Jos Baelemans, Project Engineer, said: “One of the challenges was to utilise a computerised jacking system with a jacking accuracy of +/- 0.3mm and a read-out accuracy of +/- 0.01mm. Furthermore, as the bridge foundations were located close to the quayside, a system was required with a high jacking capacity and a small footprint.”
“Given the extreme weight of the bridge, we believe the optimum solution would be to use our Mega Jack System. The jacking system comprised eight jacks, each with 1,300t capacity, thus creating a total lifting capacity of 10,400t. By using the Mega Jack, we could complete the jack-up quickly and safely within the space available.”
“For both side bridges, a computerised jacking system with a total of 2,000t capacity and oversized steel beams was used, which allowed for the bridge to be jacked-up on all 14 bearing points simultaneously”.
The bridge heightening is part of the Albert Kanaal Project, in which over 50 bridges will eventually have a free passing height of 9.1m to allow ships with four layers of containers to pass through the channel. Some bridges need to be completely replaced, other bridges only need to be heightened and some bridges already have the sufficient height.
ALE has also been awarded the contract to launch the new bridge at Zolder, weighing approximately 1,200t. This bridge is also part of Albert Kanaal project and the launching will take place in the autumn of 2016.
By Jake Frith