Specially adapted Alimak hoists are playing a vital role in one of Europe’s foremost engineering feats, the construction of the Shard in central London. When completed in late 2012, the skyscraper structure with office space at its base and restaurants, a five-star hotel, luxury residences and a viewing gallery on the 72nd floor, will be the tallest in Western Europe at 310m.

An Alimak Scando 650 twin hoist with extra large cars had to be uniquely engineered to handle the novel design shape of the building, which has already become an iconic landmark on the London skyline. The two Alimak cars travelling on the same mast tower up to a lifting height of 233m were given strengthened floors designed with a 5° angle to compensate for the building’s façade, which is inclined at the same angle.

Developing the bespoke hoist solution saw Alimak Hek design teams from both the UK and Sweden work closely with HTC, the UK rental company that awarded the hoist contract to Alimak Hek, and the principal contractor building the Shard, Mace. Key to the success of finding the right practical hoist solution was building a deep understanding of client requirements in terms of the range of pallet sizes and weights as well as material distribution flows on each building level.

“Developing and delivering the right product for what is a very complex hoisting task took several years of detailed discussions, including a bespoke design/feasibility study,” said Adrian Bolton, construction manager, Alimak Hek Ltd.

“One of the Alimak hoists has an internal car size of 2.5m x 4.45m and the other is 2.0m x 4.45m with car heights of 2.8m and custom painted in HTC colours. Both cars were specially designed to accommodate a range of transportation pallets for the carriage of external glass façade elements, a key architectural feature of the building.”

Mace construction manager Mike Lynch says that the unique design of the Shard demanded looking for new solutions to moving materials and personnel safely and efficiently, up and down the planned 72 levels of the building. Constructing what has been dubbed the most exciting building being built anywhere in the world with approximately 90,000m² of floor space, has placed huge demands on the construction engineers, not least coping with a inward sloping design.

Mike Lynch says: “After evaluating every possible solution, it became clear that only a hoist solution would function with the design of the structure, providing us with practical, efficient and, above all, safe material and personnel transport up and down. Alimak Hek worked closely with us at every stage to develop the right solutions, bringing to the project their vast expertise of rack and pinion hoists built up over the past six decades on construction sites around the world. The Alimak Scando 650 solution has proved exemplary when it comes to safety and providing trouble-free round-the-clock operation in a fast-paced environment that at times has seen the core going up by 3m a day.”

Alimak Hek prides itself on delivering bespoke solutions when required. More than 20 Alimak Scando 650s have been supplied with larger car size than the standard range offering — all to UK customers. At the Bauma 2010 exhibition, Alimak Hek launched a new standard hoist range with extra large cars, the ALIMAK SCANDO 650 FC-XL.

“We are seeing rising demand for larger hoist cars at construction sites around the world. Large hoist cars ease the transportation of large façade elements and other bulky goods and lead to increased productivity while saving time and money,” said Urban Lundberg, general manager, Construction Hoists, Alimak Hek AB.

Hoist details

  • Location: The Shard, London, UK, 310m
  • Application: tall building
  • Hoist type: ALIMAK SCANDO 650 FC II 25/44 SP
  • No. of cars: two
  • Max payload capacity: 2,500kg/car
  • Car sizes: 2.5m x 4.45m x 2.8m and 2.0m x 4.45m x 2.8m (W x L x H)
  • Speed: 0.7m/s and 0.9m/s
  • Lifting height: 233m