Inflatable cushions offer titanic lift capability

The company makes light and flexible inflatable lifting cushions that have been designed to handle tricky lifts where there is very limited space in which to work, delicately raising loads ranging from heavy vehicles, pipelines and plant through to beams, bridge components, building components, machinery and resource development structures.“Whereas mechanical or hydraulic jacks concentrate their energy into a small contact area, lifting bags distribute theirs over the entire surface area of the bag for safety and to minimise the risk of damage to the pipeline or other object being lifted,” said Simon Agar, general manager of Pronal distributor Air Springs Supply.“Pronal lifting cushions also have a very low uninflated thickness, as little as 20 millimetres, compared with conventional jacks – this allows lifting cushions to be deployed and operated under a wider range of loads than other hoisting apparatus. “In addition to providing easier access, they are more tolerant of conditions around the load, which may include trenches and different terrain surfaces.” Air Springs said the cushions’ lifting capability had been demonstrated on the Simpson’s Creek gas project, which involved lifting a pipe in delicate vertical movements. Jack Walsh, superintendent with Nacap Construction, which worked on the project, said the reason the cushions were used was to give absolute control of the lift and therefore great safety and security of supply. “Hydraulics might provide a half an inch of concentrated movement, when we only need one millimetre,” Walsh said. He said one of the larger lifts used five bags and involved 238m of pipeline passing through a gully.“So there was quite a lot of weight involved,” Walsh said. “Using a diesel 180cfm compressor, load sensors and the gauges and valving provided with the bags, the pipeline was repositioned to obviate the effects of slope and ground subsidence.“In that job, and indeed in all jobs, safety was number one priority, absolutely. That’s what we are all focused on – the whole team, the load control system people, the stress gauge people, the engineers, the client – we are all focused on security of the workforce, the infrastructure and the supply of the contents of the pipeline.”The largest of the Pronal seamless inflatable lifting cushions is capable of lifting up to 65 tons.

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