One of the problems of lifting and shifting pipelines during installation and maintenance is often the restricted space in which to engineer the lift.
Especially in remote, rugged and sometimes muddy or sandy locations, including trenches, it can be difficult to provide crane access overhead or to obtain sufficient clearance and a firm foundation for a lift from underneath.
One way to provide an easy, safe and predicable lift is provided by new ranges of seamless inflatable lifting cushions being introduced to Australia by pneumatic specialists Air Springs Supply.
The versatile Pronal lifting CLP cushions can delicately raise loads ranging from pipelines of all types to trucks, tracked vehicles, beams, bridge components, building components, machinery and resource development structures.
Pronal’s newest cushions 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).
According to Air Springs Supply, the lifting cushions are developed for industrial, military and civil tasks by the French elastomer specialists Pronal, the organisation that developed the tough lifting tanks used to pluck artifacts from the ocean liner Titanic nearly four kilometres down on the ocean floor.
The materials used are so tough and durable that they are used to recover immobilized aircraft, for example, or to lift tanks or split rocks in quarries.
In addition to the standard models, such as the workhorse 920X920mm square cushion, a major advantage of Pronal cushions is that they can be custom-engineered to particular shapes and sizes to perform particular tasks.
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 putting point loads on pipelines. They are delicate and progressive in operation as they are inflated by compressors or portable air cylinders or pumps.
Sometimes it is not necessary or desirable to use cranes, slings or cylinders for lifts that present particular technical challenges in terms of lifting surfaces or surfaces to which lifting force is to be applied. Where considerable investments may be contemplated in custom-engineering a conventional lifting platform, it may be well worth considering the simple principle of pneumatic actuation. This can be particularly so when working in confined spaces, such as trenches and mines, where there is little room beneath pipelines and plant.
Features of the product include:
As well as straight lifting, they can be used for pressing, clamping, tilting and guiding
Strokes from 10-585smm (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)
Seamless construction from threaded layers coated with chemical resistant elastomer, hot vulcanised 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.