The catastrophic collapse of Big Blue on the Milwaukee Brewers baseball stadium retractable roof project could be the most awesome lift accident of all time. The crane, a Lampson TransiLift III with a 340 ft main boom and a 200 ft jib, was setting a 100 × 180 × 16 ft open truss panel roof section weighing close to 500 tons at a lift height of 230 ft. With 11 diesel engines, 6 miles of wire rope and 1150 ton counter weight, the 2100 ton crane was a massive machine, indeed. The accident occurred during 26 mph average winds with gusts in the mid 30’s. Three ironworker fatalities and hundreds-of-million dollar damages resulted from this mishap. The ensuing litigation pitted co-defendants Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the crane lessee/operator versus Lampson, the crane designer/builder, on totally disparate theories for cause and origin of the failure. The paper describes the comprehensive engineering analyses undertaken to disprove the Mitsubishi theories of failure as confirmed by jury verdict. Among the topics discussed are: wind tunnel testing, structural analyses of the boom, metallurgy of failed parts from a critical king-pin assembly, and soils engineering work related to ground loads and displacements during the lift. Crucial role of the SAE J1093, 2% design side load criterion and Lampson’s justification for an 85% crawler crane stability criterion are presented.
Engineering Failure Analysis – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2007
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