When a boat hit the deck of the Humbeek bridge in Belgium this past July, Sarens acted immediately to contact our client, Herbosch-Kiere, and offer a barge to remove the damaged bridge deck as soon as possible.
After speaking with the client on Friday, Sarens Technical Solutions & Engineering worked swiftly over the weekend to prepare the barge Josef-Rosa and sail it from Ghent to Willebroek for final preparations. This particular barge was chosen because it needed to pass a 19,5-metre wide bridge in Willebroek, and it measured only 19 metres wide.
After one day of preparations in Ghent and another in Willebroek, the barge was ready to remove the damaged bridge by Tuesday. Meanwhile, all the other equipment, including SPMTs, pumps, and supports, had been sent from the yard to Willebroek via truck, which only took 20 minutes. Sarens also provided hydraulic winches, two 700-tonne cranes, and a CS350 jacking system.
The Sarens Technical Solutions & Engineering team had to swiftly deploy its expertise to solve some of the operation’s biggest challenges and special requirements. For example, one factor was the low height required for picking up the bridge, with only 1,2 metres between the bridge deck and water level. Ultimately, the crew gained 40 cm of extra clearance due to the lowering of the water by WenZ. This made it possible to sail below the bridge with the barge and SPMTs.
First, Sarens picked up the 165-tonne bridge deck with the barge and SPMTs. Once its complete weight had been taken on by the SPMTs and barge, the crew ballasted the barge one metre higher to reach above the concrete structure with the bridge. Sarens then moved the barge as far forward as possible to enable a 90-degree turn. Finally, the crew drove a circle with the SPMTs to position the bridge deck in between the barge before sailing away.
With the bridge deck safely aboard, the barge sailed to Wintam, near where Sarens waited with two 700-tonne cranes to lift it off the barge in tandem. For this, the crew had to work around a critical time window that allowed for the barge to enter only during high tide. This gave the team only about three hours’ time to lift the bridge. Crucially, the position of the cranes was very important because they needed to stay five metres behind the quayside at an adequate distance from each other so that the bridge could pass the two cranes while slewing.
Sarens’ quick thinking, personnel training, material planning, and ability to collaborate seamlessly within a short time period made it possible for our client to open the canal to ships as quickly as possible. In all, seven team members were responsible for the project’s execution on-site. Communication on-site was very fluent, and crane operation seamless. We are pleased that we could serve our client in such a short time while still maintaining high standards of operation and most importantly, safety. Congratulations to everyone for this fantastic last-minute effort!