Mammoet installs huge modules at GlaxoSmithKline plant

Mammoet used a gantry to lift the modules in a very tight workspace.

A $400 million investment in GlaxoSmithKline’s Upper Merion biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania involved the installation of several modules under tight restrictions, incluidng time, space, climate and ground forces. Mammoet executed the movement of the components to their final location and provided specialized millwrighting expertise to precicely place, align, and weld each piece into place. 

The project’s scope included the hoisting of modules known as skids to the second floor of the building. This included maneuvering into the building, positioning, final leveling, alignment and specialized stainless-steel welding of the components to their final assembly. These were complex procedures that required careful engineering to prevent damage to equipment, personnel, and the structure of the facility, according to Mammoet.

Because of outdoor elements, lifting systems would require continuous protection from moisture, freezing temperatures and wind. While working inside, neoprene plastic coated machinery skates and non-marking tires, would be needed to protect the 

A 75-foot (22-meter) span on the gantry structure was required to hoist the super skids to the elevation.

floor and the sterile environment. The  floor-loading restrictions required the use of small electric forklift trucks in the building. Due to height restrictions, engineered lift plans were required for all lifts within the building. Yet another obstacle was the restricted space for movement due to structural columns.

Early on, Mammoet’s team provided pre-engineering and project management services to ensure alignment with the manufacturing and installation plans. During the initial review, Mammoet proposed an elevated gantry system to receive the smaller skids, as well as the larger super skids.

Using a gantry, as opposed to a crane, would improve efficiency, and reduce costs. There actually wasn’t a crane that would fit into the tight work site. Because the upgrades were being made to an existing facility, normal operations of a nearby active service bay could not be disturbed.

Many skids were delivered in the horizontal position and required to be lifted in the vertical position. Mammoet carefully navigated the tight space of a window opening which was within four inches of the maximum skid height, and the ceiling height inside the building which was within four inches of the maximum height of the skids.

Due to the length of the super skids, a 75-foot (22-meter) span on the gantry structure was required to hoist the super skids to the elevation. This span increased beam size requirements to maintain structural integrity. Mammoet’s skilled operators used precise movements to navigate the plant’s tight spaces and turns. Each module was precisely positioned, leveled, and aligned before it was welded into place by our expert millwrights. With safety in mind, Mammoet’s team installed an engineered scaffold system to ensure 100 percent fall protection while working at height. Mammoet also developed a detailed schedule to ensure safety and alignment with simultaneous movements of others during the expansion project.

The larger super skids were initially proposed to be in the magnitude of 60 feet (18 meters) in length, 10 feet (3 meters)  in height and an estimated weight of 100,000 pounds (45 metric tons). Mammoet’s proposed gantry provided easy delivery of the components to the raised installation opening above but could also accommodate lift of various shapes and sizes, while still allowing for variances.

“Using our customized adjustable gantry, Mammoet successfully and safely installed more than thirty super modules weighing between 18,000 and 20,000 pounds (8 to 9 metric tons). The final weights for the super skids were actually far less than originally anticipated; however, Mammoet’s gantry was able to accommodate lifts of varied weights and sizes without causing any delays to the customer.

Upgrades to this biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant provides jobs for 350 people in the Upper Merion Township. The expansion allows for faster development of new treatments for diseases such as cancer.


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