Heavydrive devices withstand wind and weather

In Trieste, the company installs panes weighing four tonnes under extreme conditions

On 21 March 2016, Heavydrive's special devices came into operation in the Italian seaport Trieste. There, the vacuum suction unit VSG 6000 K with quick-change system SWS with counterweight traverse installed three panes weighing up to four tonnes. The challenges: The façade is directly next to the sea and the strong gusts of wind made the installation difficult.

The port of Trieste is one of the largest in Italy since it covers an area of 2,304,000 square meters and is one of the most important trading ports for the whole of Southern, Central and Eastern Europe. An Italian façade builder has spectacular construction plans for the old port at the Piazza Venezia: the complete restoration of a historic building. The original façade remained but the core of the building was completely restored. After its completion, a café, a library and a shopping centre are planned to move into the building. The future visitors awaits a magnificent view of the port of Trieste. For this, a pane weighing four tonnes and two panes weighing 2.5 tonnes are installed at the side of the sea.

Vacuum suction system VSG 6000 K in operation
Vacuum suction system VSG 6000 K in operation
Image: Heavydrive

The challenge:

The façade is offset into the building by 800 mm with a surrounding gap of just 10 mm.
The façade is right next to the sea. With no possibility to store the panes in the port, they had to be transported over a distance of 40 metres.
Gusts of wind becoming stronger and stronger, eventually leading to a storm

The solution:

The VSG 6000 K vacuum suction system with an SWS quick-change system and the adapted counterweight beam (capacity of up to 7 tonnes).
The system installs panes of up to 18 m long and 3.4 m tall. With the counterweight beam, the suction system can safely move into any recess horizontally or under the eaves of a building up to 3 m deep.

Difficult installation conditions

This is a case for the Tapfheim-based lifting and transportation specialist Heavydrive GmbH. The company has specialised in solutions for difficult installation jobs and the glazing of extremely heavy glass elements. In Trieste, the team had to face several challenges: The façade is 800 millimetres offset into the building and the surrounding gap is only 10 millimetres. Since the façade is directly next to the sea and there is no possibility to store the panes in the port, they have to be transported over a distance of 40 metres. The Bora, an unpredictable gust of wind with a high average speed makes the installation conditions very difficult.

To install the three extremely heavy panes under these difficult conditions, Heavydrive used its vacuum suction unit VSG 6000 K with quick-change system (SWS) with a capacity of up to seven tonnes when used with the counterweight traverse. The unit installs panes of up to 18 metres length and 3.4 metres height. With the counterweight traverse, the suction unit can safely go horizontally into any recess or under any building's eave up to 2.5 metres.

Transporting the windshield 40 m across the harbor
Image rights: Heavydrive.com

Installation despite strong gusts of wind

Early in the sunny morning, the Heavydrive operator began with the installation with the Italian colleagues. The truck-mounted crane with a capacity of 200 tonnes was placed the day before already with two normal trucks and a crane truck. This was a job done under enormous time pressure since the weather forecast predicted gusts of wind getting stronger and stronger from noon onwards leading to a storm in the afternoon.

At first, the largest of the three panes weighing almost 4 tonnes was installed. Via remote, the Heavydrive technician steered the pane above the sea directly to the façade. The system inserted the 9.6 metre long and 3.2 metre high pane exactly to the millimetre under the eave. The Italian construction manager instructed the employees at the sight. To install the two smaller, 2.5 tonne heavy panes, a smaller suction system was used. Thanks to the quick-change system SWS, the switching of the vacuum suction system was done in only 15 minutes and the installation could be carried out without delay.

However, with every pane the installation became more difficult because of the wind getting stronger which made the elements on the truck-mounted crane sway heavily. Everyone had to work highly concentrated to insert the panes safely and with high precision despite these conditions. The installation of the last of the 4 tonne heavy glass façade was completed just in time. At five in the afternoon, the predicted storm hit and made it impossible to carry on. An hour later, the Heavydrive systems were safely loaded in the trucks and ready to be transported back home.

The Heavydrive GmbH offers different suction systems and transportation equipment for rent worldwide, on request, also with a professional operator. „We advise façade builders worldwide in difficult installation situations. Depending on the construction site and project, we develop customer-specific solutions“, says managing director Guenter Uebelacker. The spectacular installation in Trieste was filmed by an Italian TV crew and the Heavydrive camera team.

Difficult installation conditions in the old port in Trieste
Difficult installation conditions in the old port in Trieste
Image: Heavydrive

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