Irregularly shaped machinery, delicate load surfaces and problematic site conditions underfoot can all create challenges for conventional lifting technologies.
Standard cranes may have difficulty operating around soft ground, uneven earthworks, rocky surfaces, confined trenches and obstructed vehicle maintenance or crash recovery areas.
Sometimes there is insufficient room overhead to employ suitable cranes, even if they can be brought overland to a remote site. Sometimes also there is insufficient stability underfoot to employ pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders that produce high point loads both on the ground and on the object being lifted, which may be constructed of softer or formed metal in the case of land-based machinery, or fibreglass and aluminium in the case of maritime vessels and plant.
A simple, safe and proven solution to such challenges can be provided by light but extraordinarily strong seamless inflatable lifting cushions from the global Pronal elastomer product organisation, distributed in Australia by Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd.
The Pronal range of CLP lifting cushions from Air Springs Supply – which can be easily transported by 4wd or helicopter - can delicately raise loads ranging from heavy vehicles, pipelines and plant through to beams, bridge components, building components, machinery and resource development structures and maritime vessels and structures used in resource exploration and development.
Pronal’s newest cushions range from ultra-thin bags (just 20mm thick deflated) that can lift weights of more than 60 tons, to vulcanised Aircraft Recovery Cushions constructed from a specially formulated fabric coated with synthetic rubber that is chemically compatible with environmental agents such as kerosene.
CLP cushions, featured on www.pronal.com.au, range from ultra-thin bags (just 20mm thick deflated) that can lift weights of more than 65 tonnes each, to powerful spreading cushions that can exert hundreds of tonnes of force to part plant and machinery components for servicing, or to extract quarried material. Complementary low-pressure CPB Maxi-Lift cushions can be used on land and under water, offering greater strokes of up to 700mm (or 1400mm where a pair are employed).
Air Springs Sales and Marketing Manager Mr James Maslin says Pronal bags combine the advantages of high durability and power with gentle, precisely controlled lifting that can spread the load over broader surfaces of the object being lifted, rather than focusing the power on point loads potentially creating slippage hazards or damage to the object being lifted.
"Avoidance of damage is obviously a prime consideration in maritime and offshore structures and vessels, such as those employed in the oil and gas industries, where safety and reliability of fixed and mobile plant is crucial. Similarly, mining and pipeline applications need to happen as time-efficiently as possible, with the least downtime in the case of maintenance and repairs."
Thin, deflated Pronal cushions can be used in confined spaces underneath inaccessible loads ranging from engines and plant, through to foundations of bridges, buildings, machinery, pipeline structures and resource development rigs requiring lifting for inspection and repair.
"Sometimes cranes, slings or cylinders may not be the right choice for lifts with particular technical challenges in terms of lifting surfaces or surfaces to which lifting force is to be applied. Where companies are contemplating considerable investments in custom-engineering conventional lifting platforms, it may be well worth considering the simple principle of pneumatic actuation," he said.
This can be particularly so when working in confined spaces, such as trenches and mines, where there is little room beneath pipelines and plant.
Rapid inflation of Pronal cylinders is also a major advantage in emergency situations, for which special low-pressure types are also available.
Features of the Pronal product (above) include:
- As well as straight lifting, they can be used for pressing, clamping, tilting and guiding
- Strokes from 70-585smm (CLP), with longer strokes provided by combinations of cushions
- In addition to standard sizes, specific sizes and shapes can be made to order to suit particular applications.
- Ease of use, with inflation either by compressor or simple air cylinders
- Inflation pressures up to eight bar, regardless of stroke (CLP models – CPB pressures vary from under one bar, depending on model)
- Construction from threaded layers coated with chemical resistant elastomer, hot vlucanised under pressure in one operation.
- Non-slip surface providing maximum friction when stacking two cushions
- Control systems tailored to particular uses
Pronal equipment such as the PAC series of lifting cushions can be supplied with trailers, lifting bases and control systems developed to the demanding standards of Pronal's world-wide customer base, including military and civil aviation applications.