Comansa helps build Colombia?s largest hydroelectric power plant

Cranes in action

Three Comansa tower cranes are being used to help build the Ituango hydroelectric power plant, set to become Colombia’s biggest power plant and currently the largest infrastructure project under way in the country. Once the plant starts operating at the end of 2018, it will generate up to 2,400 megawatts of clean energy, nearly twice that of the San Carlos power plant, currently the country’s largest with a generating capacity of 1,240 megawatts.

The CCC Ituango Consortium, made up of the Colombian construction companies Conconcreto and Coninsa Ramón H, as well as the Brazilian construction company Camargo Corrêa, are carrying out the main civil work on this project for EPM (Empresas Públicas de Medellín, Colombia’s main utilities company), which will involve a 70 km long reservoir. There are currently three Comansa tower cranes installed on one side of the dam being built, which will reach a breathtaking height of 225 metres.

Two of them, a 21LC450 and a 16LC185, are being used to build a controlled spillway with a design flow of 22,600 m3/second. Both these cranes have been set up to reach a height of 60 metres and have been assembled on a folding cross base with a transition section so they can be moved on tracks installed on the ground. Therefore, they are able to cover a greater area of the construction site much more quickly than if they had to be dismantled and assembled each time they are moved, resulting in savings in terms of time and costs. The 21LC450 has a maximum load capacity of 20 tonnes and a hook height of 54.6 metres, while the 16LC185 can handle a load of up to 8 tonnes and has a hook height of 59.5 metres.

The third Comansa crane, a 11LC160, with a maximum load capacity of 8 tonnes, has been in three different locations, always very close to the other two cranes. It was initially installed in an area higher than the spillway in order to be used to help build the tunnel which will provide road access to the spillway. Once this initial work was completed, the crane was moved to a slightly lower area to be used to help build the two intake tunnels, which will take water from the reservoir to the machine room and turbines, where the mechanical energy will be transformed into electrical energy. At all these locations, the 11LC160 was set up with a hook height of 40 metres and, like the other two cranes, installed on a folding cross base so it can be moved quickly, transport the various loads over a larger area than a stationary crane would be able to and thus make the very best use of the resources available.

The three cranes were sold to the CCC Ituango Consortium and were initially assembled at the construction site by Gigacon, our official dealer in Colombia. The modular structure of the cranes, comprised of parts which are light and easy to handle, making them easy to transport and assemble, was extremely important given that the power plant is located in a canyon of the Cauca River, in an area excavated from the mountain where there is little flat ground and far away from any built-up areas. Medellín is the closest city, located at around 170 km or 5 hours from the power plant.

Gigacon provides its services throughout Colombia from its offices in Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena. Its expert team of highly-trained engineers and technical personnel is always on hand to deal with customers’ needs quickly and reliably.