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Terex® AC500-2 Performs Flawlessly on Delicate Chiller Lift at a Nuclear Factory



WAVERLY, IOWA, May 2nd, 2012 – In the nuclear power sector, whether at the nuclear power plant or at the factory that makes the fuel rods, redundancy in safety procedures must be standard protocol.

Wilmington, N.C.-based full-service contractor Edwards, Inc. recently experienced just how much safety margins must increase when performing even seemingly routine lifts at the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Plant in Castle Hayne, N.C. Serving the power generation sector among many others, the industrial contractor’s rigging and crane service expertise and responsiveness of its Terex® AC500-2 all-terrain crane were put to the test when changing out air conditioning chillers on top of the factory’s roof.

“The plant makes aircraft engines in one area of the plant and nuclear fuel in another,” explains Jamie Ezzell, division manager for Edwards, Inc. “The chillers were on the nuclear fuel manufacturing side of the plant.”

Due to the delicate nature of the fuel manufacturing process, the plant could not be shut down, nor could the critical production processes be interrupted. “Planning and safety margins needed to be increased exponentially on this job,” adds Ezzell. “During the lift, the factory had workers positioned at certain valves used to quickly shut down the plant in case there was an issue with the lift.”

Significant Savings

It was a complex lift, and representatives at the GE Hitachi plant considered enlisting a helicopter for the removal and replacement of the two 17,000-lb (8.5-ton, 7.7-tonne) chiller units from the factory’s roof. However, the long distance which the helicopter would have to travel, plus the required two trips to replace both chillers made this an extremely expensive prospect.

Ezzell and Edwards had an alternative approach that would prove to save GE Hitachi significantly on their chiller replacement costs. “We were confident our Terex AC500-2 crane could handle the job, so we set up a site visit to discuss the project,” comments Ezzell.

To remove and replace both chillers, Edwards would have to mobilize its AC500-2 all-terrain crane twice. After replacement of the first chiller, the customer required a testing period prior to replacement of the second unit. “They wanted to make sure the new chiller was operating properly for at least one month before replacing the second,” says Ezzell.

Of major concern for GE Hitachi was the ground’s ability to support the crane’s weight over its four star-type outriggers. “Before the job, the customer required ground core samples and ground-penetrating radar procedures to ensure the ground could support the lift,” says Ben Cockerham, vice president of operations for McClung-Logan Crane and Equipment LLC, an authorized Terex Cranes distributor for North Carolina. Ezzell adds that the engineers determined the ground could safely support up to 300,000 lb (150 tons, 136.1 tonnes), and “we knew we were going to be under that weight.”

The reason for this confidence lies in the AC500-2’s CraniMax software. This program stores the crane’s lift charts for all its different configurations. More importantly for this job, the software provides ground pressure estimates for the outriggers prior to performing the lift. “The ability to estimate and see the actual ground-bearing pressures is a huge benefit for us,” says Ezzell. “It’s a big selling feature for jobs.”

Quick and Smooth

With the contract secured, removal and replacement of the first chiller was set for early December 2011. Edwards’ crew moved in on November 29 with McClung-Logan representatives onsite to offer support. The contractor freighted in the loads, including maximum counterweight and 275 ft (53.3 m) of luffing fly jib. “The AC500-2 gets to the jobsite fast and sets up quick,” says Ezzell. “The closest competitive crane takes much longer to mobilize and set up.”

At a mere 63-ft, 3-in (19.3-m) long, the Terex AC500-2 all-terrain crane provides the shortest vehicle length in the 600-ton (500-tonne) class for fast mobilization. Yet, this all-terrain crane delivers the highest lifting capacities on 8 axles, and its 183.7-ft (56-m) main telescopic boom offers the longest system length in its class that can travel at a 13.2-ton (12-tonne) axle load.

Within 14 hours (not counting safety orientations and inspections) workers assembled the crane and were ready for the lift. A 60-ton (54.4-tonne) crane assisted with assembly and installation of the 275 ft (83.8 m) luffing jib.

The 17,000-lb (8.5-ton, 7.7-tonne) chillers were located nearly 250 ft (76.2 m) from the 40-ft (12.2-m) tall building’s edge. This required the AC500-2 to work at a 282-ft (86.0-m) radius to perform the lift. Prior to making the initial pick, crews simulated the lift on the opposite side of the crane’s outrigger. The test included a 17,000-lb weight and was designed to test ground pressures and the crane’s performance prior to the actual lift.

“All ground pressures were within acceptable limits, and the crane performed as expected during the test,” mentions Cockerham. Ezzell adds, “The software ground pressure estimates for the outriggers were within 1,000 lb (0.5 ton, 0.45 tonne) of actual pressure, and everyone at the job site was impressed with this accuracy.”

After passing the test lift, the crane and crew members began the sensitive removal and replacement procedure. “Plant workers drew alleyways on the rooftop to designate where the chillers could pass over,” recalls Ezzell. These alleys included 90-degree turns that zigzagged across the roof, so the chiller would not be lifted over the factory’s designated critical areas.

Testing the skills of the crane operator and nimbleness of the AC500-2’s controls, the entire lift was performed blind. The crane operator was in constant radio communication with crew members on the roof to navigate the chiller through the maze, and the unit was never lifted more than 20-ft (6.1-m) above the rooftop. “The crane’s controls are very responsive to operator movements, which aids in delicate lifting jobs like this,” says Cockerham.


With the project starting first thing in the morning, Ezzell reports that his crews removed the old chiller and had the new unit up within 30 minutes, and the job was complete by 1:30 p.m. It took a mere 8 hours to break down the AC500-2 and mobilize the unit off the nuclear facility’s grounds.


After the prescribed test period for the new chiller, Edwards’ crews and AC500-2 crane were back onsite in February to remove and replace the second unit. The crane and rigging company equaled the success of the first lift, enabling GE Hitachi to have the project completed much more cost-effectively with the AC500-2 than with the helicopter.


About the Terex AC500-2

The Terex AC500-2 gives Edwards Inc. an all-terrain crane with fast mobilization and high lift capacities. The compact Terex AC500-2 delivers up to 600-ton (500-tonne) lifting performance – the highest capacity among 8-axle cranes – and a maximum tip height of 478.3 feet (145.8 m). Its 56.1-ft. long undercarriage is the most compact in its class, and when combined with 8-wheel steering and drive, the AC500-2 is one of the most mobile all-terrain cranes on the market.


The AC500-2’s design delivers fast mobilization and extremely short set-up time once on site. Its star-type outriggers help minimize system deformation and provide a high level of stability, especially when working in steep radius applications such as the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Plant chiller removal and replacement project.


Operator efficiency is improved on heavy-lift projects with the AC500-2’s CraniMax Crane Manager control system, which stores all load charts. The system automatically selects the right charts, based on crane configuration, which is inputted by the operator via a user-friendly touchscreen. The system provides pre-lift outrigger ground pressure estimates critical for job planning and actual pressure readouts during the lift.


About Edwards, Inc.

Tracing its roots to 1979 when Derrill Edwards started the small business with a $7,000 dollar investment, Edwards, Inc. today provides full-service fabrication, crane and rigging, piping, electrical, general plant maintenance, and ASME Code fabrication and repair. Edwards’ services cover a broad base of industries, including pharmaceutical, food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, general manufacturing, agricultural and power generation.

Boasting the largest crane fleet in North Carolina, Edwards’s fleet size ranges from 7.5 tons (6.8 tonnes) to its flagship Terex AC500-2 600-ton (500-tonne) crane. With a market encompassing North Carolina, Virginia and the surrounding states, Edwards’ crews tackle projects ranging in size from short-term, time-and-material jobs to long-term, multidiscipline contract projects that involve a wide spectrum of craft requirements. The company excels in fast-track projects with critical delivery dates.

More information on Edwards, Inc. can be found at

About McClung-Logan Crane & Equipment, LLC

McClung-Logan Crane & Equipment is a full service Terex Crane distributor serving the Carolinas from their Charlotte, NC location. They are staffed by a team of industry veterans including VP of Operations Ben Cockerham, Parts Manager Zack Thomas, Service Manager Ricky Williams and Crane Technician Paul Stitt. The team is dedicated to providing exceptional product support for the crane industry. Their sister company McClung-Logan Equipment Company has been serving contractors for more than 70 years throughout Maryland, Delaware, DC and Virginia. The two companies team up to provide customers with unsurpassed equipment and product support throughout the Mid-Atlantic US.. Providing superior applications expertise, crane industry veteran Robert Greene, leads McClung-Logan’s experienced applications team to help customers select the right crane for the job so they can operate more efficiently and profitably. The companies provide support for a wide range of Terex Cranes models, delivering lift capabilities ranging from 10 to 3,520 tons.

About Terex
Terex Corporation is a diversified global manufacturer of a broad range of equipment that is focused on delivering reliable, customer-driven solutions for many applications, including the construction, infrastructure, quarrying, mining, shipping, transportation, refining, energy, utility and manufacturing industries. Terex reports in five business segments: Aerial Work Platforms; Construction; Cranes; Material Handling & Port Solutions; and Materials Processing. Terex offers financial products and services to assist in the acquisition of equipment through Terex Financial Services. More information can be found at


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