Personnel and Material Elevators in the Spotlight

Talk about pressure. When Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is doing spontaneous fly-overs of the project you’re working on, ensuring that the job is on schedule, within
budget, and of the highest quality in safety and equipment, takes the necessity of a job well-done to the next level. Add in the project’s hard and fast deadline—the 2012 Asia-Pacific Summit—and that pressure must result in major productivity. These were the cards in play for the construction of Russia’s mega project that encompassed construction of two bridges in the country’s most vital Pacific port, Vladivostok—a project that would not only be a significant tally mark for European/Asian relations, but also be in the running for landmark status.

“The jobsite was kind of the project of the year for us,” says Charles Clutter, regional sales manager, with GEDA USA, LLC. “Everybody was excited to be involved, and it’s helped considerably in GEDA becoming known for full-size elevators.”

The final stop on the TransSiberian Railway, Vladivostok was originally a military-restricted zone, accessible to foreigners only since 1991. In 2013, the port is home to 600,000 people and is a significant industrial, economic, and transit center, due in major part to the traffic generated from the port.

The project holds the distinction of being Russia’s largest building site to-date with a cost of $8.5 billion US. It features a four-lane, 3.1-mile long suspension bridge on 742-ft. pylons that spans the Golden Horn bay; and another 1,050-ft. bridge that created the route from the Eastern Bosporus Straight to the new Russki Island (previously a military-restricted area), where the 2012 APEC conference was held.

With an incredibly restricted schedule, the project team got to work in August 2008 on what has become known as the Russki Bridge project. Early on, GEDA was awarded the contract to supply the project’s vertical access technology—technology that would have to be top-of-the-line and state-of-the-art to meet the extraordinary deadline and expectations.

Access in the Spotlight
In all, five GEDA PH 2032 personnel and material elevators were installed to access the bridge pylons with a combined superstructure height of 1,063-ft.

The elevators were licensed for transporting 2 tons (25 people) and designed in conjunction with construction, to grow with the pylons up to 1,050 ft., achieve frequency converter controlled lifting speeds of 210 fpm, and top out with a lifting height up to 1,312 ft.

The elevator cars were loaded and unloaded at the platforms of the telescoping formwork by an additional exit, or a D-door, on the inside of the car. Workers handling the installation work on the pylons accessed the pylons on custom-made platforms 14'8" in length, designed to ensure the appropriate distance to the pylons that were anchored
from two adjustable assembly bridges mounted on the roof. Because the pylons steadily incline as they get higher, the challenge became designing a car and mast tie elements that could safely navigate the incline as the car travels the height of the structure.

“This is the first project we have been on where we were dealing with sliding formwork,” says Clutter. “Figuring out how to access the tie-ins despite the large distance between the mast and actual pylon, caused by the sliding formwork (for pouring the concrete of the pylon) was a significant challenge that had to be met to get the job done.”

Clutter explains that the custom-made equipment was essential because using a crane or other lifting device was not possible to get to the location where the holes for the tie-ins needed to be drilled.

“The only way for the project team to get where they needed to be was from an elevator car, and the resulting idea was to install the assembly bridges or expandable roof ramps that were mounted on the roof of the elevator car and gave the team the access needed to drill the holes for the tie-ins,” says Clutter. “The elevator system compensates inclination to a certain extent, but if the bend on the mast becomes too harsh, you have to work with shim plates between the mast sections. In that system, we didn’t have to shim.”

Safety in Spite of the Elements
Remember, the project is in Russia where subzero temperatures are commonplace. In order to handle the severe weather conditions, the PH 2032 installations were designed to bear temperatures ranging from -22° F to 104° F and withstand the volume of snow, strong winds, and nearly 100% air humidity that characterizes the port of Vladivostok.

“The salty air, due to being located next to the coast, always increases the challenges for materials corroding quicker,” says Clutter. “What we did to at least partly compensate for that hurdle, was to have specific parts galvanized before the powder-coating. So even if the paint was damaged on-site by the highly corrosive environment, the steel was protected against corrosion.”

Safety Abroad
From the project’s onset, safety measures had to be reviewed and approved by Russian authorities. Entry and exit points featured GEDA landing gates that stood up to the most current European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, with different landing gates being used to address various instructions and preconditions. Standard safety features on the elevator included a GEDA overspeed safety device and overload protection, as well as limit switches at the top and bottom levels.

In addition to the European certifications of conformity, GEDA also holds the requisite compliance certificates for exports to Russia including the GOST standard/ Rostechnadzor approval (GOST-R Standard), and authorization to install equipment at temperatures down to -22° F.

Completed Success
“The elevators greatly increased efficiency on the job and allowed us to complete the project on schedule,” says Clutter. “Considering the height of the pylons and the deadline the Summit presented, I don’t believe we could have completed the job on time without them.”

The project team completed construction in just 44 months on the 3,622-ft. bridge that now connects the two banks of the Eastern Bosporus Straight. With the main construction parts complete on this special project—not only for Russia, but for GEDA—the personnel and material elevators were dismantled and the bridges started hosting traffic Aug. 1, 2012.