October 19 - Vanguard has provided engineered project solutions for four automotive press related contracts over the past few months, overcoming space constraints to install components weighing up to 120 tonnes.

"Our contracts for these press installations have generally begun with the loading and transportation of all components from port to site, but our engineering expertise and specialised equipment really came into its own at the installation end of these projects," said Vanguard director Roland Cumings.

"Space is usually highly constrained in press halls due to the comparatively small footprint area that presses occupy, coupled with the designed production layout of the presses, aimed at optimising their workflow. Adding to the challenge, clients are understandably reluctant to make any major structural changes to accommodate the installation of the presses, so the working tolerances for the installation are very small."

The respective press installations required Vanguard to employ a combination of specialised equipment, including self-propelled modular trailers (SPMTs), hydraulic lift systems of various configurations, and a number of bespoke lifting accessories.

"Our hydraulic lift systems are placed into position spanning both the final position of the press and the delivery channel, ready for the components," explained Cumings. "Depending on the space and layout that we are constrained to, the delivery of the press components is delivered under the lift systems, either by means of rigging, pick and carry cranes or compact self-propelled trailer configurations."

He explained that due to space constraints, Vanguard is often unable to deliver the components in the correct orientation. "To overcome this as efficiently as possible, we have engineered a rotating lifting beam that allows us to lift and turn the load in one set-up; it can also slide on the top end of the header beams, allowing us the flexibility of moving the loads both longitudinally and transversely."

The four contracts involved the installation of two different types of presses - monoblock presses and split presses - each with very different press hall layouts. The monoblock presses come as a single component and are transported horizontally, before being offloaded, stood upright and installed in one operation.

"Because they came in one piece, they were the heaviest components in these contracts, weighing in at 120 tonnes per press. The other presses were split and generally comprised five major components that need to be built in a specific sequence. It was therefore critical that the components were delivered in the correct order to ensure minimal handling," explained Cumings.

Vanguard had to lift the crowns of the presses, which weighed between 75 and 98 tonnes each, onto the top of the split presses - an operation that Cumings explained was complex due to the limited headroom between the top of the crowns and the roof trusses.

"In one case, the roof trusses on either side of the press were even lower than the top of the crown in its final position, which required expert planning and execution."

Three of the four press contracts were carried out at the same time, using a different hydraulic lift system, varying between two-post, four-post and six-post configurations. As well as the port operations, transport and lifting, Vanguard also handled the cold commissioning of the presses.