Hoist UK design and fit crane structure for Oxford Space Systems

The Oxford Space Systems facility required a crane system to lift and handle loads of up to 1,250kg within a cleanroom environment

The Requirements:

Our customer Oxford Space Systems (OSS), a multi-award winning space technology business, required a crane system to lift and handle loads of up to 1,250kg within a cleanroom environment.

The Challenge:

This specific operation at the Oxford Space Systems facility was a newly conceived cleanroom and working closely together with the projects main contractor Total Projects UK and leading cleanroom design and construction specialists Clean Room Construction Ltd (CRC), Hoist UK designed and fabricated a free-standing structure that would not only be the support structure for the crane, but also for the cleanroom.

It was imperative that the supporting steel structure had a minimal impact on the room in terms of not compromising the space available and also limiting any impact on the existing concrete floor slab. We had to design the steel work to only impose vertical loads into the existing slab, whilst also being capable of withstanding the vertical, lateral and longitudinal loads from the crane system.

Due to the collaborative nature of this project our design engineers needed to work closely with the project team at Clean Room Construction Ltd (CRC) to understand the load allowances required to accommodate the necessary equipment required. This includes cladding, ceiling panels, extractions and filtering equipment etc. These equipment needed to be housed above the inner skin of the room within the confines of the structural support frame.

Hoist UK's involvement in multiple key components of this project meant that our installation process needed to be phased to facilitate the successful completion of all elements, including design, fabrication, installation and testing for both ourselves and our project partners.

The Solution:

The Supporting Structure:

Working to create a cleanroom within a designated space at the Oxford Space Systems facility, we designed a steel support structure 15 metres wide, 20 metres long and 10 metres tall, using 20 tonnes of steel. The structure was designed to maximise the available space and we coordinated our design with project partners Clean Room Construction Ltd (CRC) to ensure factor in load allowances required for the internal and external cleanroom cladding. The support structure also needed to include allowance to support the crane structure and provide the desired lifting capacity of 1,250kg.

Given that the newly created cleanroom was being developed within an existing structure, there were structural challenges posed due to our limited use of the existing concrete slab as a foundation for the structure. To mitigate these restrictions, our design engineers portalised the frame to eliminate any moment connections required at the base of the structure and work with the existing floor slab.

The Crane:

To maintain the integrity of the cleanroom we designed an underslung double girder crane system with a 1,250kg safe working load that had a 12m span suspended on four longitudinal tracks, which were 20 metres long. The longitudinal crane system tracks were fixed to the support structure using a series of uniquely designed support stools that could penetrate the cleanroom ceiling and allow for air tight sealing to preserve air tight vacuum conditions in the cleanroom environment.

The crane was fitted with an electric belt hoist to be best suited to our customers cleanroom needs, with further modifications and customisations to fully comply with the working environment. Our cleanroom crane's hoist was fitted with lubrication-free non-metallic Dyneema lifting belt suitable for use in the semi-conductor, aerospace, pharmaceutical and food industries. To give our customer the flexibility and range their operation requires, the crane was supplied with dual lifting speeds for precision raising and lowering, and offered variable speed travel forwards, backwards, left and right on the crane to provide greater accuracy and range of movement.

Paul Jordan, Director at Hoist UK said: "This was an exciting project for us. We're recognised as cleanroom lifting equipment specialists and are often brought into the later stages of a cleanroom design and build project however, working with Oxford Space Systems we were given the opportunity to be involved in the earlier stages of the project too. In addition to designing and manufacturing the cleanroom overhead crane system, we were also asked to construct the room by designing and constructing the free-standing structure that would form the cleanroom.

Mat Rowe and his team are complete professionals, as are the project teams at Clean Room Construction and Total Projects UK, and we maintained a close working relationship throughout each stage of the job which made for the smooth completion of this project."

Mat Rowe, COO at Oxford Space Systems commented: "Our previous crane partners were unable to provide a cleanroom compliant solution which forced OSS to identify a new working partner to design and supply our crane that would be integral to the largest cleanroom at Harwell space cluster. Working very closely with both Hoist UK and Clean Room Construction we very quickly developed a compliant concept of sharing steelwork for both the cleanroom infrastructure and the crane. This created more internal space within the cleanroom and reduced the overall cost of the project. It was a pleasure working with all the team members from Hoist UK, CRC and Total Projects UK where the philosophy from all parties was to offer solutions and not problems. The project was delivered with no complications, within budget and schedule."

Steve Lawton, Director at Clean Room Construction added: "CRC is very proud to have collaborated with Hoist UK to engineer and deliver such a prestigious and critical cleanroom solution for Oxford Space Systems at the nerve centre of the UK's space industry."

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