Using Existing Overhead Structural Steel to Lift Industrial Equipment
Using Existing Overhead Structural Steel to Lift Industrial Equipment
Using Existing Overhead Structural Steel to Lift Industrial Equipment

If you work as a maintenance engineer in the mining sector in Saskatchewan, then you’ve likely utilized existing structural steel to hoist milling equipment such as pumps, motors, or even mill drums. The lifting anchor points are often weld-on lugs or beam clamps connected to overhead structural steel, and lift is provided by one or a series of manual chain hoists. I understand these sorts of operations occur frequently. I’m writing on this topic to discuss the technical calculations and precautions that should be performed prior to executing these sorts of lifts in the field.

First, one must understand the dead, live and other loads that may be acting on beams. The majority of mill structural steel has reserve moment and shear capacity. Further, the loads on beams may be reduced with clever control of live loads during the time structural steel will be utilized for the lift. When the two factors are considered one may be able to lift thousands of kilograms from a single beam with little or no modification to the structural steel.

It’s important to verify the structural steel grade or yield strength to determine its capacity. For newer structural steel the material grade is often noted on the drawings, but for older steel without good data it would be wise to assume 230MPa yield strength. Also, anything pre-1930 has a good probability of having high carbon content and should not be used for hoisting because of the brittle nature of these older beams.

If you’re using a single point to lift from then you’ll likely be inducing torsion on the beam. If the load is not straight vertical or if the load is eccentric from the beam’s shear centre (for W and S shapes the shear centre is in the same location as the centroid, or dead centre of the beam), then the torsion should be accounted for. For a full and in-depth torsion analysis of open sections (such as W or S shapes) you should consult AISC’s design guide 9. The guide provides a simplified approach that I’ve found quite useful. Effectively, the method includes resolving the eccentric force into two component forces acting through the shear centre and a moment. The moment and lateral force components are resolved into lateral forces acting on each flange. Flange moment is calculated based on distance from the restraint and magnitude of the force. Remember that flange moment or stress may be superimposed on other normal stresses or moments acting through the flange. Another consideration is to ensure there is adequate restraint in the flanges. This may include connecting the most highly loaded flange or both as there is little resistance in beams with typical shear connections. I’ve included a figure below to better illustrate the method.

I hope you’ve found this post useful. If you have any further questions or if there’s a specific problem that you might need help with then please feel free to contact me at paulc@kova.ca. We’re always happy to help and look forward to discussing your project with you.

Liability disclaimer: As with all engineering work, if you’re not competent in an area of practice then you should consult a competent professional engineer prior to proceeding with the work.

Kova is an engineering and inspection services provider. We’re local to Saskatchewan with offices in Saskatoon and Regina, and operate in Saskatchewan’s largest economic sectors including mining, oil and gas, forestry, agriculture, construction and fabrication. We specialize in safety, lifting, and industrial equipment design. We pride ourselves in knowing there is no problem that is too technically challenging for us as our expertise and long-term employees are second to none. We provide services in a very timely fashion with personalized service. Our in-house inspection services allow for a complete quality assurance scope for our projects. Kova has permit to practice in nearly all Canadian provinces.

Paul Caughlin, P.Eng., M. Eng., Engineering Manager

Uranium City Permanent Mine Opening Covers
Before picture
Before picture
Meshed surface of the rock
Meshed surface of the rock
FEA model of the cover
FEA model of the cover
Inventor model
Inventor model
View from the drawing
View from the drawing
Photo of the installed cover
Photo of the installed cover
Scan of the installed cover
Scan of the installed cover

Kova was selected to provide engineering and quality control services for design, fabrication, and installation of permanent mine opening covers for the Beaverlodge area near Uranium City, Saskatchewan. The Beaverlodge area includes a large decommissioned uranium mining and milling site as well as a number of satellite mining sites. Each of these sites contains several mine related openings created to provide access to the underground workings via production shafts or ventilation raises.

The Beaverlodge mine operated as a federal government crown corporation from 1952 to 1982. Once the mine was shut down in 1982, decommissioning was conducted over a period from 1983 to 1985. Part of the original decommissioning activities involved sealing historic mine openings by capping them with concrete. While an outline of the remediation plans were provided in the decommissioning reports, no records of “as-built drawings” detailing exactly how each opening was decommissioned are available. As the province of Saskatchewan will require engineer stamped documentation regarding the final closure method, a decision was made to replace or cover all existing concrete caps with stainless steel covers to maximize useful lifespan.

Kova designs covers for an industry-leading useful lifespan between replacement, which is typically estimated to be well in excess of 1000 years. The useful lifespan is estimated based on extrapolated corrosion rates for stainless steel materials and designing a corrosion allowance into the cover materials

Kova’s on-site engineering staff examine each opening location with local contractors and regulators to mutually agree on the ideal placement for rock anchors and size of each cover. Field information for fabrication drawings is gathered using conventional methods complimented with laser scanning using a Leica ScanStation P40 and proprietary scanning tools to better inform office-based drafting and engineering personnel.

Engineering design is completed using a combination of traditional calculation methods complimented with computer-aided design methods including finite element analysis (FEA). Drafting work considers the organic shapes of the rock formation captured during scanning, and the detailed FEA work. The resulting work product is a fabrication drawing set for the most material and labour efficient, safe and long-lasting cover that is commercially available today.

Kova’s scope for the project included shop inspections during fabrication using visual and liquid penetrant inspection techniques. In addition field inspections following installation and pickling operations are conducted. Kova’s final work product includes a formal report certifying the cover is ready for service.

The typical work schedule includes gathering information during the summer, completing design work and receiving regulatory approval during the fall, fabricating shop components and transporting during the winter, and installing and completing field review in the summer. With submission of a final report and as-constructed drawings in the fall.

This project was started in 2015 and is currently ongoing with 18 covers either installed and field reviewed or slated for installation during the 2018 summer construction season.

Uranium City Permanent Mine Opening Covers
Before picture
Before picture
Meshed surface of the rock
Meshed surface of the rock
FEA model of the cover
FEA model of the cover
Inventor model
Inventor model
View from the drawing
View from the drawing
Photo of the installed cover
Photo of the installed cover
Scan of the installed cover
Scan of the installed cover

Kova was selected to provide engineering and quality control services for design, fabrication and installation of permanent mine opening covers for the Beaverlodge area near Uranium City, Saskatchewan. The Beaverlodge area includes a large decommissioned mining and milling site as well as a number of satellite mining sites. Each site has a number of openings for a production shaft and multiple vent raises. Each uncovered opening poses a substantial risk to residents and visitors of the area.

The uranium mines operated as a federal government crown corporation from 1952 to 1982 to supply uranium primarily for cold war era nuclear material requirements. The mines were decommissioned over a period from 1983 to 1985. Many mine openings were left open or covered haphazardly with concrete reinforced with scrap metals (train rail steel, drilling rods, etc.). As the majority of existing concrete covers were undocumented, a decision was made to replace all existing covers and uncovered openings with stainless steel covers to maximize useful lifespan.

Kova’s cover design considers corrosion allowance and material selection to provide a useful lifespan of as many as 1200 years between cover replacement.

Kova’s on-site engineering staff examine each opening location with local contractors and regulators to mutually agree on the ideal placement for rock anchors and size of each cover. Field information for fabrication drawings is gathered using conventional methods complimented with laser scanning using a Leica ScanStation P40 and proprietary scanning tools to better inform office-based drafting and engineering personnel.

Engineering design is completed using a combination of traditional calculation methods complimented with computer-aided design methods including finite element analysis (FEA). Drafting work considers the organic shapes of the rock formation captured during scanning, and the detailed FEA work. The resulting work product is a fabrication drawing set for the most material and labour efficient, safe and long-lasting cover that is commercially available today.

Kova’s scope for the project included shop inspections using visual and liquid penetrant inspection techniques as well as field review following installation and pickling operations. Kova’s final work product includes a formal report certifying the cover is ready for service.

The typical work schedule includes gathering information during the summer, completing design work and receiving regulatory approval during the fall, fabricating shop components and transporting during the winter, and installing and completing field review in the summer.

This project was started in 2015 and is currently ongoing with 18 covers either installed and field reviewed or slated for installation during the 2018 summer construction season.

Saskatoon Head Office

311 Wheeler Place
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Phone: (306) 652-9229
Fax: (306) 249-1059
Email: contactus@kova.ca

Regina Field Office

Unit 4 - 2102 E Redbear Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan

Phone: (306) 585-6001
Fax: (306) 585-2993