Engineering Design Consultants

9Cambridge Guided Busway Installation Crane

The design of the Cambridge Guided Busway Installation Crane was carried out by M G Bennett and Associates Ltd. Whilst employed by Bennetts, James Hill was responsible for the detailed design of the crane as well as specifying the hydraulic and electrical control systems. James worked on the project from original concept through to delivery on site assisting with overseeing the manufacture as well as commissioning and testing of the crane.

The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway will provide a transport link between St Ives and Cambridge. The busway aims to reduce congestion on the busy A14 by providing a park and ride scheme as a genuine public transport alternative. When complete in 2009, the guided busway will be the longest in the world. The guideway is formed by laying pre-cast concrete road sections that are 15m long and 3m wide onto pre-laid foundations.

The guideway follows the route of a disused railway line. Due to extremely tight confines of existing structures on the route, a traditional crane could not be used. A bespoke solution had to be developed that was reliable, flexible and compact. A bespoke mobile gantry crane was designed that would make laying the concrete sections easier and faster, compared to conventional crane designs. Based on a traditional gantry crane structure, wheeled bogies and hydraulic legs were added to mobilise the crane. In addition to this, the gantry also included its own power supply, as well as office and canteen space for the operators.

The design of the crane faced a number of challenges. The crane needed to be compact enough to fit within the limited space of existing bridge structures under which it had to pass. The crane also needed to remain light enough so as not to damage the concrete segments which it would need to drive over once laid.

In order to reduce maintenance, the design of the crane needed to be extremely robust and reliable. The gantry crane had a production target of laying 10 concrete beams a day, therefore minimising downtime was critical if the project was to stay on schedule.

Ideas and concepts developed in the tunnelling industry were used when designing the gantry crane to keep lifting equipment as compact as possible. The design also included an electric drive system which utilised inverters to create a skid steered machine that could be driven along the guideway profile. From the initial concept to commissioning the crane on site took a year.

More information on the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.

For more information regarding our movable structure design services or to discuss your bespoke machinery requirements, please telephone 0114 399 0400 or email us.

Key Facts
  • Location:
  • Client:
    Cambridgeshire County Council