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Newly Acquired Heavy Lifting Device Brings Efficiency to the Waterfront

By Kristi Britt – Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs Specialist | July 9, 2019


Seeking a way to move industrial plant equipment (IPE) without a forklift or crane, the Industrial Engineering Department (Code 983) began researching a heavy lifting device that could be operated with a small team to increase efficiency for the workforce.

“When we’re moving IPEs on the waterfront, we have to follow standard operating procedures when utilizing crane services,” said Code 983 Mon Kwong. For each lift, a team would be assembled featuring seven Lifting and Handling (Code 700) personnel, two Code 900F.12 maintenance mechanics, and a Code 983 engineer. A lengthy process would then begin including drafting lifting sketches, approvals being routed, and coordinating the team to build a lift plan and oversee the project. In addition, lifting IPEs are considered overhead functions and take a backseat to production work, so that extends the length of time to get the job done. “We would see constant delays which cause labor-hour increases, excessive down-time, missed transportation deadlines, and disruption of the entire planning process. We accomplish less work this way in the longest amount of time which is a lose-lose for everyone involved.”

Another method to move heavy equipment throughout the shipyard is large capacity forklifts, but with their size, they are unable to navigate the corridors of the facilities to gain access to the equipment. In addition, the weight of the forklift can often exceed the floor load limits. For Code 983, this was not the answer they needed to get the job done.

 “We researched a device that would fit our specifications for our waterfront and we found the Hilman TK-EVO,” said Kwong. The TK-EVO is a battery-operated, remote-controlled powered crawler used for heavy load transportation. With a more compact size and only weighing less than 500 pounds, the machine is able to traverse the corridors and narrow pathways with ease with an operator using a wireless hand-held controller. It can lift up to 20-ton loads by itself and up to 40-ton loads with the rear roller units that were included. In addition, the unit comes with four powered hydraulic toe jacks used to lift the IPEs and place them on the main crawler and roller units. “We wanted to see this unit in action and see if it fit our needs," added Kwong.

Hilman came into the shipyard to provide a demonstration of the equipment, the team fitting a HAAS VF-2 CNC Milling Machine onto the TK-EVO and using it to transfer the machine from the first floor to the third floor of the toolmakers building. The machine in question weighed approximately 9,500 pounds. The device handled the load and was able to maneuver onto the freight elevator and through the narrow passageways. The entire operation was completed within four hours and only required two mechanics for fitting the machine and one operator at the controls. The team was thrilled with the results and purchased the device.

“It’s very simple to control and it’s instantaneous to do what I want it to,” said Production Machinery Mechanic Ethan Holland who operated the device. “This makes it a lot more efficient and safer to perform these heavy lifts and I think this device is a great addition to our arsenal.”

“My guys are able to do the lifts themselves safely and we don’t have to rely on the processes and procedures for crane lifts like we had in the past,” said Equipment and Tooling Manager Laura Herrin. “We are already planning out our lifts within the facilities with this new equipment and how it will greatly save us time, cost, and keep the workflow going. We love it!”