Wednesday, August 24, 2016

News: Eadon's MULE does the heavy lifting

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Design engineers from Eadon Consulting have played a key role in a £9m coastal defence scheme by designing a clever machine to lay 780 metres of concrete-stepped revetments.

Rapidly expanding engineering design consultancy, Eadon Consulting works across a number of sectors, with expertise in mechanical, control, hydraulic and structural design and has moved office four times in six years within the AMP Technology Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham due to the growing nature of the business.

The experts were approached by Balfour Beatty in the autumn of 2014 to design a vehicle that could be used to transport and lay precast units weighing 14 tonnes that are used as part of a coastal defence project in Sandsend, North Yorkshire.

Worn-out coastal defences have been replaced along a 1km stretch of the A174 where it runs close to the shoreline. The road had a history of landslips and had required the County Council to undertake costly repairs over the years.

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The mobile unit lifting equipment vehicle (MULE) carried revetment units 800 metres along a pre-built track at around 2km/h and layed them into the correct position using the machines' three adjustable legs to ensure accuracy. Each of the legs was able to vary its height and angle with the aid of hydraulic cylinders.

Working at the foot of a cliff and between a busy road and the sea, the MULE meant that contractors didn't have to use heavy lifting to move the units in to place.

The machine, which consists of a main frame on which the revetment is loaded, has a counterweight section at the back on which the hydraulic power pack and generator can be loaded, and it is moved by a separate unit attached to the frame via a specially designed coupling. The drive unit uses two hydraulic motors to drive the drive wheels sitting in the same guide channels and also has additional ballast which is required to meet the units traction requirements.
Eadon, who were the mechanical and structural designers on the project, carried out all of the calculations and the development of the concept. The project also saw engineers continue through to the detailed design and 3D model and manufacturing drawings.

A spokesperson for Eadon said: "The project presented several challenges during the process and were required to make significant changes to the mechanism and strengthening concepts to ensure the Mule functioned correctly. Environmental factors also had to be taken into account as the machine is required to work in a hostile, coastal environment. The design team also had to bear in mind that the client ultimately wanted a cost effective solution."

An opening ceremony has recently been performed for the scheme which saw 360 revetments successfully laid into place.

Eadon Consulting website

Images: Balfour Beatty


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