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Helicopter erects tower crane

International energy supplier EDF has taken delivery of a Potain MCT 58 tower crane at its Sainte-Rose hydroelectric dam on the island of La Reunion, in the Indian ocean, from dealer Grues Levages Investissements (GLI).

Replacing an old Potain 427 E tower crane manufactered in the 1970s, the three tonne MCT 58 has a maximum jib length of 30 metres - at which it can handle 1.96 tonnes - and a maximum under hook height of 19.7 metres. Due to the damp and humid conditions at the dam all structural fabrications were coated in corrosion resistant C5-M paint, while electrical components were also protected.

Located at the foot of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano, which is only accessible by small cars, a helicopter with a maximum one tonne payload was used to install the crane. In total, it took two days and 26 trips to erect, with each section manufactured in sections weighing less than a tonne. Each jib section measured five metres in length, while an extra support was added to place the hoist winch on the side of the jib. The counter jib was supplied in three parts while the cab was replaced with a remote control system.
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Located at the foot of a volcano, a helicopter erects the Potain MCT 58

Once installed the crane was used to dismantle the old 427 E as well as carry out essential maintenance on the dam. It will also be used for a dam reinforcement project scheduled for this year.
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Each section needed to weigh less than a tonne

GLI technical director, Christophe Chappaz, said: “It was a tough specification, which cranes from other brands would not have been able to meet because of the weight limitation on the helicopter. We collaborated closely with Manitowoc to adjust the capacity, technology, warranty and erection plan to meet EDF’s needs and our experience assured them that we could complete the task safely.”

“Usually, it would take around four hours to erect an MCT 58. We took a total of six and a half hours across two days due to the difficulty of using a helicopter. The rotor blades induce a swirling wind, which is difficult to manage, so it was important we took things slowly and steadily. You cannot rush when safety is critical.”

EDF Sainte-Rose power station produces more than half of all hydropower on the island.