UK Nuclear Licensed Site – Semi-Automated Raft Cranes

A UK nuclear licensed site had a pair of existing Goliath cranes that were beginning to fall short of the site's increasingly demanding requirements. A wide range of factors needed addressing including operator safety, facility capacity, and future-proofing.

To meet the challenge, SCX Special Projects engineered one of the most advanced cranes it has ever produced. It called on every engineering discipline from mechanical, to electrical, to hydraulic, to controls, to safety.

The challenge

Our client has a facility handling nuclear processing materials at its site in north-west England. The waste is packaged into cement and steel cylinders and stored on two 330-metre long ‘rafts’.

The previous raft cranes were operated from the raft itself. This placed operators in controlled areas with an increased risk of exposure, and manual visual positioning meant that cylinders could only be stacked two high.

The solution

Our solution is two semi-automated and remotely controlled ‘Goliath’ raft cranes, significantly reducing operator exposure and facilitating triple-stacking of cylinders to make better use of the storage facility.

SCX Special Projects designed, built, tested and installed two cranes, each with a sophisticated rotating and latching grapple, to run on the existing raft rails. The solution has bespoke nuclear protection features including our MotoSuiveur load arrest devices, CCTV and load recovery.

Extensive acceptance testing at our Sheffield facility

  • A blend of proven MOTS (modified off the shelf) lifting equipment with bespoke mechanical, electrical and controls design
  • Design working life of 30 years, supported by calculations, documentation and comprehensive acceptance testing
  • Replica raft and rails constructed at our Sheffield assembly site to match the client’s site specifications


Advanced crane and hoist design

  • 330-metre long-travel, 35-metre span between the rails, and 30-metre cross-travel to allow the crane access to all areas of the raft
  • 25-tonne safe working load, significantly de-rated for safety, with a lift height of 5.0 metres
  • VSD-controlled motors for long travel and lifting


Safety and integrity through expert EC&I design

  • Extensive data logging including load position in all dimensions and rotations, load weights, plus wind speed and temperature
  • High speed cross and long travel only allowed when the grab and its load are interlocked to the crab
  • Laser, radar and absolute encoder systems for X-Y-Z positioning


From initial designs, to build, to commissioning and beyond

  • SCX Special Projects is uniquely positioned to design and build nuclear lifting projects, as well as deliver ongoing maintenance
  • Decades of experience working with Tier 1 and Tier 2 providers
  • A deep understanding of meeting nuclear functional safety requirements


Innovative design considerations

  • Each cylinder is bar-coded, read by a camera mounted on an articulated retractable arm
  • Detachable inspection mast for maintenance and observation
  • Electro-mechanical grab removes the need for hydraulic power supplies, plus associated spillage and fire risks


Semi-automated control for operator safety

  • A quad-scrolled hoist, customised to give a 16-rope fall for true vertical lift and pinpoint positioning
  • Semi-automated control, allowing operators to be sited well away from radioactive assets
  • A laser and radar tracking system that knows where any asset is on the raft
  • Data and 13 CCTV cameras feed back to control room SCADA workstations


MotoSuiveur load arrest device

  • Exclusive to SCX Special Projects in the UK, and in use at many UK Nuclear Licenced Sites
  • Independent of other electrical and mechanical systems, plus a damping effect to reduce shock loading
  • Even with complete mechanical failure of the hoist gearbox, the load would fall a maximum of just 30mm


Precise payload handling, indexing and positioning

  • Cylinders are moved between indexed raft locations, facilitating regular movement of packages until ready for re-processing
  • 3-D cylinder location map, delivering a triple-stacking capability to increase storage capacity by nearly 50%
  • Hoist lift speed of 5.0/0.25 m/min, cross travel of 50/5 m/min, and long travel of 90/5 m/min, slew speed of 0.5 rpm, all VSD controlled


Nuclear safety is a priority

  • Seismically-tested, with mechanical anti-uplift devices added to end carriages and crab units
  • Multiple braking solutions including primary VSD, secondary MotoSuiveur load arrest devices and storm anchors
  • Full traceability and documentation to required standards for UK Nuclear Licensed Sites


Let's talk more about high-integrity, high-safety lifting for the nuclear sector.

SCX Special Projects has earned a reputation for engineering, building and installing some of the nuclear sector's most advanced handling systems.

With an unwavering focus on safety, our engineers still explore and deliver those innovative touches that have become the hallmark of an SCX solution.

Call us on +44 114 262 6199, email us at, or complete the contact form below and we'll be in touch.

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199