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Cranes Work on Europe’s Top Roof

BERGAMO/ITALY, April 28,2015 – Europe’s highest mountain, the Mont Blanc, receives a new Cable-Car System. This €105m project has taken four years to construct and connects a departure station at Pontal d'Entrèves, close to the motorway, with the arrival station at Punta Helbronner at an altitude of 3,466 meters up in the mountains.

This pioneering work was carried out by the Cordée Mont Blanc consortium on behalf of Funivie Monte Bianco S.p.A. The consortium is led by Cogeis S.p.A., an historic Canavese company that specialises in major projects both in Italy and abroad.

New Cable Car Station on Europe's Highest Mountain

High altitude site with little space: The Fassi crane stands at the side of the new cable car station. | Photo: Fassi

Challenging site for cranes

The high-altitude construction site needed a crane to handle materials at the upper station and to install the metal structures, complementing the heavy lifting duties carried out by a pair of tower cranes that had to be assembled by helicopter. As the works progressed, the Fassi F425RA crane became appreciated for a number of other operational benefits. For example, when wind speeds reached 70 km/h - not a rare occurrence, as they can sometimes top 150 km/h at this height - the tower cranes had to stop working for safety reasons. The Fassi crane, however, was able to continue.
"The aim was to identify a crane configuration that would meet the specific needs of the construction site, taking full advantage of the versatility of the machine," explains Rossano Ceresoli, head of research & development of Fassi Gru. "As well as using it on the Mont Blanc construction site, the customer had requested that the crane could be subsequently installed on a commercial vehicle. This is how we identified the best solution to be the Fassi F425RA.2.24 e-dynamic crane model coupled with the L324 jib and equipped with winch and platform."

The Fassi e-dynamic crane at work on Mont Blanc

The weather is looking good and workers may get distracted from the beautiful view. But oftentimes the peak of the mountains are covered in high winds and snowstorms. | Photo: Fassi

Four years of work at 3,000 meters

Work started in April 2011 and by the following year the F425RA e-dynamic crane was already operational. It was first installed at the lift shaft that connects the Punta Helbronner arrival station with the tunnel down to the Nuovo Rifugio Torino, a refuge building located 100 metres below.

In fact, one of the advantages of the articulating crane was the speed with which it could be moved around the site to where it was needed next, explains its manufacturer. The Fassi crane was then installed at the top of the structure where, using its winch, it was a great help placing reinforcing steel during cement casting. The next step was the construction of the two-storey station structure, always moving on to the floor above as gradually each concrete pour neared completion. Its contribution was also crucial in laying of the steel girders and crossbeams.

Don't slip! Working at more than 3,000 meters in ice and snow is dangerous

The variable Fassi crane helped construction from various angles and was able to continue work when the big tower crane in the background reached its wind limits. | Photo: Fassi

Siberian Winter Conditions

During the winter breaks the crane remained outdoors, covered only by a tarpaulin in temperatures that reached minus 30°C, but this never caused any problem. When work resumed, the crane was ready, even after storms.
For the final stages, the Fassi F425RA crane was fitted with the work platform basket for tightening the bolts and installation of doors and windows and the solar panels. The work in front of the stunning scenery is scheduled to be finished by June of this year.
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