A large whey tank crashed onto a crane in the UK earlier this week when a lifting lug failed during a tandem lift.
The incident occurred at the mothballed Arla cheese plant in Llandyrnog, north Wales, which is currently being stripped out in preparation for sale. The cranes, a 55 tonne Liebherr LTM 1055 and 300 tonne Grove GMK 6300L-1, were rented in from local firm Bryn Thomas Crane Hire by a contract lift company on standard CPA crane hire terms. The 300 tonner was working as a 160 tonner, while the 55 was working as a 35 tonner, so plenty of margin for error. The road out front was closed for the truck to be loaded with the vessels - thus they were lifting over the front of the Grove.
The tank weighed around 12 tonnes, while the lifting lugs were new and had been welded to the top and bottom of the tank by a specialist company working for the ultimate client. Two spreader beams were used, with long leg chain sets so the rigging looks sound. The failure was caused by the tank wall or ‘skin’ ripping away under one of the lugs, causing its partner lug to fail as well. This resulted in one end of the tank to drop, striking the boom support frame on the front of the crane and landing on the engine cowl. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident and the damage appears to be minor, although the crane will be sent to Manitowoc UK for inspection and repair.
Bryn Thomas has issued the following statement and hopes that the experience might prove helpful to others when lifting similar vessels: "On Tuesday 23rd February, two cranes supplied by Bryn Thomas Cranes were involved in an incident on site in north Wales. Whilst undertaking a general CPA hire for one of our clients, who were carrying out their own CPA contract lifting operation for their own customer, the skin of one of the tanks has seemingly failed causing the load to drop onto the side of our machine. The work on this site has been on-going for a number of months and various tanks have been removed from the site through numerous lifting operations by our client."
"The cranes involved in the incident have been withdrawn from service and will be both fully safety checked by their respective manufacturers and will only return to work when all external checks have been completed. Once further results have been provided by sites, as well as our own, incident reports, we will advise of any further information that could be of use for future operations."