Navy’s largest ships benefit from precision, power and balance of SyncHoist lift by Universal Cranes for BAE

A high precision Enerpac SyncHoist system has been successfully deployed by heavy lift and transport specialists Universal Cranes to ensure optimum accuracy and safety in the hoisting and positioning of key components of one of the largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy.

The Enerpac System - deployed by Universal Cranes for the Landing Helicopter Deck (LHD) vessel project under way at Williamstown, Victoria - is being introduced to Australasia to enhance crane performance and safety  in diverse heavy lift projects including construction, engineering, hydraulics, mining and energy, oil and gas, manufacturing and metal fabrication, shipbuilding and safety.

Universal Cranes integrated the system with a 600 tonne crawler crane as part of the project management and engineering for the consolidation of steel blocks of between 164-300 tonnes on the deck of the first of the (LHD) vessels being built by BAE Systems Australia.

The four steel blocks, with variable centres of gravity,  will become the operating control towers on the flight deck of the Canberra class LHD, one of two 28,000 tonne LHD vessels that will come into service in 2014 (HMAS Canberra) and 2015 (HMAS Adelaide) respectively.

Based on the Spanish Juan Carlos class, the LHD’s roles will be to embark, transport and deploy an Army force of up to 1160 soldiers each by helicopter and landing craft. They will also be an outstanding asset for carrying out or supporting humanitarian missions.

BAE Systems Australia is prime contractor for the project, including superstructure fabrication at Williamstown (Melbourne) and Henderson (WA), and ship consolidation at Williamstown.

The Enerpac SyncHoist system involved in construction of the Canberra offers load manoeuvring vertically and horizontally using one crane, being employed in this application to align the block so the crane could lower it.

Employing intelligent hydraulics to monitor and guide compact but powerful 700 bar double-acting push-pull cylinders integrated into four lifting points above loads, the SyncHoist SLS system can be used for pre-programmed positioning, tilting and aligning of loads and for counterweighting and determining their centre of gravity. In particular applications (although this feature was not required on the BAE lift)  the system can also be used to reduce the risk of damage from crane jogging - oscillations of wire rope due to sudden crane starts and stops.

Universal Cranes Heavy Lift Engineer Mr Nick Morris said that, because of the size of the vessel, the use of traditional craneage and dry dock option was not feasible. The Demag CC2800-1 crawler crane was rigged with a 72m Main Boom in Superlift Lift (SSL), and positioned to work from the Nelson Pier adjacent to the moored LHD Vessel

“To allow positioning on the pier, BAE Systems designed and built a steel grillage to purposely match the characteristics of Universal Cranes CC2800-1 Crawler Crane.

The grillage, weighing approximately 600 tonne, allowed the crane to be positioned on the pier structure with loads effectively transferred directly to lower piles.  The grillage was then relocated by the crane in preparation for each sequential lift.”

Universal Cranes purchased a 440t Enerpac Synchronised Hoisting System specifically for the LHD Project.  The system, comprising of four hydraulic cylinders each capable of 110t and offering a stroke of 1500mm, can be installed within a rigging arrangement in tension providing an overall capacity of 440 tonnes. 

“The SyncHoist allowed a gradual lift of the load, and dynamic adjustment in relation to the centre of gravity during the lift.  This unique system allowed constant monitoring of load and stroke on each cylinder; ensuring very accurate control by the operator, “ said Mr Morris.


Universal Cranes’ contract also involved engineering and project management in the fabrication of a 330t purpose designed lifting frame for the project.  This lifting frame was adapted with specific sling lengths for each specific block.

The Enerpac SyncHoist system for cranes is a member of the Enerpac synchronous lifting family, different members of which have been employed globally on jobs as diverse as lifting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, manoeuvring the roof of the Beijing Olympics Birds Nest Building, hoisting 1000-tonne mining mills in Western Australia and re-levelling multi-storey buildings after the Christchurch earthquakes. Synchoist advantages include:


  • Use of one instead of multiple cranes, making particular lifts less difficult and risky
  • High accuracy, eliminating damage to loads
  • Reducing the impact of weather conditions, which play a less critical role in comparison to applying multiple cranes

Available in system load capacities of 40-1000 tons, with system reach of 1500mm from each lifting point, SyncHoist offers very high accuracies (+/- 1,0mm), less dependence on weather conditions and vastly improved operating speed and worker safety. Available with manual, advanced and fully controlled lift management systems, for either diesel or electric power, SyncHoist’s functions and applications span diverse industries including construction, engineering, hydraulics, mining and energy, oil and gas, manufacturing and metal fabrication, shipbuilding and safety. Specific applications include:

  • Positioning of roof sections, bridge sections concrete elements, and steel structures
  • Positioning of turbines, transformers and fuel rods
  • Precise machinery loading, mill rod changes, bearing changes
  • Precise positioning of pipelines and blow out valves
  • Positioning and aligning of ship segments prior to assembly


Manual control options for the four lifting points with 1500mm system reach include manual control with manual directional control valves; extended manual control with joystick controls and position display; and PLC control with fully closed-loop control system.  PLC control options include touch screen, remote wireless control, load and stroke monitoring, load calculations (centre of gravity) and pre-programmable motions and data recording.

The system is backed globally by the expertise and experience of the Enerpac Integrated Solutions Team, including an international authority on heavy and complex lifting, shifting and positioning projects, Mr Richard Verhoeff, who was recently appointed Integrated Solutions Manager for Enerpac in Australasia.

“The SyncHoist system integrates readily with the expertise of companies such as Universal Cranes, which has built an outstanding reputation for safety, efficiency and innovation on heavy lifting and transport services for short or long term jobs anywhere in Australia,” said Mr Verhoeff.

The scope of Universal Cranes LHD project included:

  • Fabrication of LHD Heavy Lift Frame
  • Supply of Heavy Rigging Gear
  • Mobilisation and Rigging of the CC2800-1 onto Nelson Pier
  • Provision of Craneage and Skilled Labour

Key Equipment Utilised:              

  • Demag CC2800-1 Crawler Crane
  • Enerpac Synchronised Hoist System
  • Franna AT20
  • Telehandler
  • 66’, 86’ and 135’ EWP