Solution Services was asked to analyze the forces acting on the existing Lowerator beam to determine what was causing the cracking and deformation observed in the beam and then determine the best past forward to rectify the situation.
A combination of field measurements and 3D scanning was used to understand the existing situation. Upon observation of the hydraulic cylinders in action, it was quickly determined that the system’s calibration was incorrect. The hydraulic cylinders were not stopping as the Lowerator blade contacted the floor and instead were trying to “pull through” this point. The weak point in this system happened to be the beam supporting the hydraulic cylinders, which after repeated, constant, cycling of the system eventually led to excessive deformation and cracking.

It was determined that the best solution would be to replace the existing I-beams as previous attempts at patching the cracks appeared insufficient as the beams continued to fail. Data was collected on the loads that the beam would be under, including the weight of the paper rolls, Lowerator blade, and hydraulic force. A 16 x 16 x 5/8″ HSS was selected for the new beam. Due to the significantly larger cross-sectional area of this beam compared to the existing 1-beam, supports at both ends and between the I-beams were reinforced and enlarged to allow for attachment. The connection points of the hydraulic cylinders to the HSS were also reinforced with larger plates to better distribute the load exerted on the beam. With proper system calibration, this solution will be robust enough to withstand the cycling of these immense loads.

The biggest hurdle will be getting the HSS itself into position as piping, cable trays, and conduit clog the area near the damaged beams. There has been discussion regarding pipes that will need to be permanently relocated as they interfere with the large attachments, but elevating the beams into position will be a delicate process and may require further re-routing or modification of piping.

A site visit to scan and observe the deformation in action proved vital to understanding exactly what was causing the beam to fail. Using this data and drawings provided by the client, we were able to determine what the system’s loading should be which led to our solution of replacing the I-beams with HSS along with reinforced attachments. The system will have to be recalibrated following installation.