HSPP digester elevator motor takes helicopter ride

helicopter on flying on top of a building

The digester elevator motor failed at HSPP on Sept. 19 in the middle of the kraft annual shut and had to be removed by a crane that was on site for shut assistance. The digester motor was sent to the city for a rebuild with no estimated return date.

On September 27th, we were advised that the motor was on its way back to the mill. The crane was no longer on site and plans had to be made quickly to determine how to get the motor back into its place, 226 feet off the ground.

Hazard/Risk Assessment

With help from the Safety department and Fire Captain, a hazard/risk assessment and job plan were reviewed and accepted to lift and land the motor into place by helicopter. The plan was to stage the motor behind the unoccupied paper machine and fly it overhead to the digester elevator machine room on a low mill occupancy day.

The flight zone was reviewed, all access points identified, location of traffic personnel set, who and how to rig the motor laid out, a clear communication plan established, and all potential hazards identified. A safety bulletin was sent out mill-wide the day before the lift was to take place and a mill-wide warning page, e-mail, and radio call set up for 15 minutes and five minutes before lift.

With all access points verified and flagged in danger tape, a pre-meet was held at the helipad 30 minutes prior to lift to review each person’s job once again then everyone went to their given positions and the Gatehouse sent out the two-mill wide notifications.

Massive Coordination Succeeds

The helicopter took off from the helipad at 1 p.m., flew north to the staged motor, and the load was connected. The helicopter continued from the loading zone to the top of the digester along the flight path, guided be sight and the MW weekend crew.

The motor was successfully landed onto the elevator machine room platform and helicopter was released. The entire flight time lasted just under three minutes. It was a very quick job in the end but needed a lot of coordination and people involved to be a success; a huge thank you to all who were involved.