Modulift Steps Up to the Plate with World’s Highest Capacity Single Point Lifting Beam
Modulift, the UK-based heavy-lifting specialists, pride themselves on being one of the world’s premier suppliers of spreader beams, lifting beams, and other below-the-hook lifting equipment. One of England’s fastest growing customized lifting companies, Modulift offers complete lifting and engineering services to an impressive variety of sectors, including construction, oil and gas, power generation, and utilities. Simply stated: the company does wonders between the hook and the load. And this company-wide acumen has allowed Modulift to make great strides in the global lifting marketplace in practically no time at all.
The full corporate history lands on this side of the millennium for the young engineering firm, having been established in 2002. The endeavor is ultimately the union of two very distinct and determined women: Sue Caples and Sarah Spivey. Caples possesses the keen eye for engineering a truly unique product into a niche market, and Spivey drives the business intellect behind Modulift with a particular prowess for marketing and brand awareness.
As a Master of Engineering graduate, a young Caples set out in 2002 to create a difference in the complex lifting space by developing solutions to complicated projects through the development of leading-edge off-the-shelf lifting equipment and custom-designed beams, Spreader Frames, and Spreader Bars. She met Spivey along the way and officially brought her on board in 2010 to take the company to the next level in global industrial lifting.
Together, the duo has set Modulift apart from their competitors by pushing the envelope in design expertise and application. The company is not afraid to design any type of beam for any type of lift—anywhere on Earth. A perfect example of this aptitude took place at Harland and Wolff’s Belfast, Northern Ireland / UK, shipyard earlier this year, where Modulift assisted the marine manufacturing giant in optimizing their single-point lifting capacity from the world-renowned Samson gantry crane, and broke two world records in doing so. The gargantuan achievement, which involved the ability to lift 700t (800 U.S. tons by equivalent, hereinto referred to as “tons”) from one lifting point, was required for lifting a steel structure jacket section of an oil rig. The result of the four-year project is an expanded capacity for Harland and Wolff to manage ever-increasing business.
Modulift Marketing Manager, Wendy Armstrong, explained that the main challenge with this project involved how to optimize the lifting capacity of the Samson crane, and how to facilitate the lifting process from only a single point. “For the first stage four years ago, Modulift designed and supplied a 500-ton lifting beam that would combine two of the hoists on the Samson crane to allow 500 tons to be lifted from a single lifting point.” (It should be noted that Samson and Goliath are the twin shipbuilding gantry cranes situated at Queen’s Island, Belfast. The notorious structures dominate the Belfast skyline.) “The recently completed final stage was to design a new 700-ton lifting beam that would link up the third hoist on the Samson crane, working in conjunction with the existing 500-ton lifting beam in a unique ‘T’ configuration. Ultimately, a single 700-ton Ramshorn swivel hook attached to the underside of the 700-ton beam provided the single lifting point.”
Essentially, four years after Modulift supplied the first tandem lifting beam—enabling Harland and Wolff to join up two gantry crane hooks, and allowing for the load capacity of 500 tons—an additional custom-made tandem lifting beam was hooked up alongside it, which brought the third gantry crane hook into play to achieve the objective of 700 tons. The world record was achieved by testing the beam configuration with 22 water-filled bags. And to top it off, Modulift even provided the slings and an 800-ton, eight-meter spreader beam to carry the two lines of water bags for the test.
The piece of equipment is now a permanent fixture at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard, permitting them to handle heavy, bulky structures for years to come. “This will enable Harland and Wolff to handle large structures weighing up to 700 tons from a single lifting point,” said Armstrong. “It opens up more opportunities for them, and the unique design could well suit other owners of similar cranes.”
Modulift recognized this unique lifting solution as a monumental achievement. “The combined self-weight of the lifting beams is over 80 tons,” observed Armstrong. “This is by far the biggest and heaviest structure Modulift has ever designed.” And what’s easy to overlook in a project of this magnitude is that Modulift also had to ensure that the loads on each of the three gantry hoists were as balanced as possible. “Modulift focused on not only both of the lifting beams, but also all the rigging to connect them together and attach to the crane—while the bottom rigging was supplied by another outsourced contractor.”??A result like the one achieved in the Harland and Wolff shipyard only motivates Modulift to remain on the cusp of a new age in heavy lifting. Armstrong believes this is just the tip of the iceberg. “Modulift intends to run alongside the industry’s ‘big boys.’ We want to remain experimental, but with safety at the forefront of our thinking. It will require commitment, dedication, bravery, and a little tenaciousness—which we have in spades.”
And yes, that’s big talk from a 12-year-old company, but as the industry is finding out, this isn’t a case of cautious optimism—this is a case of forging ahead and creating opportunity through a range of well-engineered products and services. “Having a so called ‘one-stop-shop’ means that there is always somebody within the Modulift team available to go through specific requirements—shoring up safety concerns and double checking on span and load capacities,” Armstrong emphasized. Within that assortment of products, the standard array of spreader beams, frames, and bars have a load capacity up to 400 tons, and span up to 50 feet off the shelf. “Our distributors can offer next-day delivery around the world. Beams up to 1,000 tons can be produced to order within 2–4 weeks. And we have the overall capacity to provide solutions up to and exceeding 5,000 tons.”
?What also distinguishes Modulift is the ability to offer a full lifting kit solution, which streamlines the acquisition, and keeps costs down. Every sale comes with an offer of rig planning, assembly, and training services. An extensive range of struts, end units, drop links, cone adapters, shackles, and slings, with components being inter-changeable, optimizes future lifting options and saves time and money for customers.
“As a relatively new company with a contemporary approach, ambition is high on the list of priorities at Modulift,” acknowledged Armstrong. “With this fresh instinct, we’ve been very forward-thinking in recognizing where our target markets land. Staples, such as oil and gas, construction, marine, and shipping continue to grow exponentially, while we continue to find new growth within industry sectors beyond the traditional, such as wind turbine handling.”
The Harland and Wolff project didn’t just set a world record, it announced to the world that Modulift possesses the capacity to undertake industry-defining projects, create custom products to facilitate such endeavors, and uphold a top-tier engineering standard over time. Age being just a number, it makes perfect sense that they wouldn’t hesitate to tackle a monster job with an industry titan, in the same shipyard where the Titanic was built.
With distributors and resellers pushing Modulift on a global scale, the opportunity to extend their expertise is landing business on new continents, within diversified networks, and perhaps most encouragingly, presenting a wealth of new needs. “Modulift recognizes through experience that the demand for a convenient, quality-assured selection of off-the-shelf stock never diminishes,” underlined Armstrong. “With that in mind, interest in more custom offerings for larger lifts, with high level QA specification requirement, is becoming increasingly popular. The future for Modulift is ripe for invention.”