Vic’s Crane and Heavy managed to transport North America’s largest de-salter that began at a manufacturing plant in Houston, Texas, and ended at a refinery in St. Paul Minnesota. The de-salter weighed a whopping 281 tons and was over 50 meters long. This is equivalent to over half the length of a football field. This was all accomplished, on time, on budget, and without a single hiccup.

With the help of 3D technology, they were able to move it through tunnels, traffic, across roadways, and even onto barges. As if that wasn’t enough, many of the facilities along the way simply were not designed to house such a large object.

Founded in 1952 in Rosemount, Minnesota, Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul specializes in heavy lift and crane services. They realized a need for 3D software when they discovered the importance of viewing the models for the large industrial projects they had. The technology would allow them to accompany their cranes to their 3D models and perform clash detection.

Getting approval for this level of technology from upper management can be challenging, but when the company received the de-salter job, they received authorization. “We felt that the accuracy and quality that this project would require would give us the perfect business case we needed to finally add a scanner to our engineering toolbox.” said Paul Newman, project manager.

Vic mapped out the entire route of the job and was able to foresee potential problems along the way. They performed a clash detection for every corner the load would have to navigate. In addition, they determined allowable ground-bearing pressure, and identified utilities that were at or below grade. The also calculated allowable ground-bearing pressure.

While management expected to receive their return on investment after 5 years, they saw the benefits almost immediately. By adopting the 3D technology, Vic’s was able to solve numerous problems from the get go.

Part of the trip required the equipment to travel on a barge 2200 miles on the Mississippi river to a port in St.Paul. The 3D technology became useful at the beginning unloading stages. Due to a rainy spring, the river levels reached the seventh highest ever recorded and left the river dock flooded through to the end of June.

“If we tried to unload the de-salter directly to the dock area, there was a good chance our transporters would sink right up to their axles,” said Newman.

Using the Bentley 3D technology, they were able to design a ramp which would support the de-salter and the transportation fleet. This was done simply by loading a scan of the area into the system AECOsim building designer. A solution to a problem that could have resulted in many problems.

They also overcame another obstacle at the end of their journey, a pipe rack. Before laying the de-salter on its foundation at the client’s facility they realized that the pipe rack could not be raised due to system piping. Moreover, due to existing underground utilities, the company was limited with how deep they could dig below the pipe. Vic’s was able to solve the problem by generating a scan of the pipe rack and use that in Bentley’s GeoPak software for road-design and terrain modeling. They were easily able to design a new road that met the specifications to deliver the de-salter.

“The installation went exactly as planned” said Newman. “After a total transport and installation time of less than 10 hours, the new de-salter vessel was now secure on its permanent foundation, right on schedule.”

The software was able to feed the information directly into their survey equipment which made it easy for the contactor to lay out the new road.

Newman expects to receive ROI in less than three years rather than the initial five. Moreover, the use of laser scans has helped improve efficiency in other areas as well, cutting the time it takes to make a lift plan in half for the company’s crane division.