The façade of the Assembly Hall is rapidly changing. The cladding of the east wing is almost completed and works on the west wing are next. Some of the most high-tech components ever manufactured will be assembled in this workshop and transported to the Tokamak building to be fitted in the machine. Due to their impressive size and extraordinary weight a group of cranes are being manufactured to lift the ITER components. In 2013, F4E and the NKMNOELL-REEL consortium signed a contract for their production. We got exclusive access to the facilities where they are currently being assembled and we report on their state of play.
The four electric overhead travelling cranes will be moving between the Assembly Hall and the Tokamak building, split in two areas housing the Tokamak machine and a crane hall above the machine. The heavy components will be lifted by two 750 tonne cranes. Each of them will be equipped with two trolleys, each carrying a single 375 tonne hoist. All in all they will be able to lift 1.500 tonnes, which is approximately the weight of 187 London double-decker buses. The cranes will be synchronised to work in tandem and will also rely on auxiliary cranes of 50 tonnes capacity each, used for lighter assembly activities.
The girder of the first crane has been completed by the NKMNOELL-REEL consortium. Meanwhile, the first two trolleys are being assembled. Currently, it is expected that the two girders will be delivered on the ITER site in April. The preparation works such as the mounting of components and cabling are foreseen to be carried out in June. With respect to the trolleys, once their assembly is completed, and have undergone factory tests, they will be delivered on site by May.
The progress of the girders and trolleys of the second crane are exactly the same at an interval of about two weeks. The girders are more than 46 m in length with overall cross dimensions of about 4.0 x 3.5 m. The weight of one assembled girder will be in the range of 200 tonnes.
The spectacular lifting operation of the cranes on the roof of the Assembly building will be performed thanks to a huge crawler crane.