And when this equipment is at a nuclear power plant and the loads contain potentially hazardous material that could possibly shut down a plant or cause a radioactive release, the stakes are even higher.
One company that has tackled these challenges head-on is Morris Material Handling Inc., Oak Creek, Wis.
The company is the original equipment manufacturer of P&H cranes, hoists and replacement parts, and it supplied its first nuclear crane in 1964.
"Safety is important in all of the industries we serve," says Steve Waisanen, vice president of global nuclear and portal businesses at Morris Material Handling for the P&H brand. "However, nuclear applications require increased awareness, understanding and respect.
"We have a history of developing custom solutions to meet industry-specific requirements. It was a natural progression for [us] to take on the challenges of nuclear applications. Our nuclear services have become one of our core competencies."
In addition to equipment, Morris Material Handling also provides maintenance services, engineering evaluations, equipment feasibility studies, inspection services and on-site training at nuclear facilities.
The company has provided cranes to power plants around the globe--and not just nuclear power plants. Morris Material Handling has also worked with hydropower, thermal power, combined cycle power and waste-to-energy plants.
"We're acutely aware of intricate safety, technology and documentation requirements of nuclear facilities," says Waisanen. "In addition, we're capable of providing safe and efficient devices for maintenance, shipping and non-nuclear material handling."
Backing it up
The Nuclear Procurement Issues Committee recognizes Morris Material Handling as a supplier of nuclear safety-related equipment, and it audits the company.
Additionally, the company requires that its P&H-certified technicians are trained and certified to work in nuclear power plant environments, according to Waisanen.
"The P&H Institute in Milwaukee provides extensive training for our employees and customers, covering a wide variety of nuclear crane inspection and maintenance topics," he says. "Our intense training meets the stringent demands of the nuclear industry. We have a large network of highly trained technicians who can address the unique safety requirements of the industry."
Building on a solid foundation
Despite the extra time and effort that go into training employees to work in nuclear environments, as well as providing services and equipment for nuclear power plants, it has been an overall positive experience for Morris Material Handling, according to Waisanen.
"The obligations and responsibilities can be daunting, but the successes are rewarding," he says. "Our solutions contribute to safer, more efficient power plant environments."
And looking ahead, Morris Material Handling sees room to grow in terms of its nuclear business, both domestically and internationally.
"Worldwide demand for nuclear power is increasing, particularly in Europe and Asia, where numerous power plants are in the early stages of design and construction, [and] we plan to expand our capabilities in pace with the demand," says Waisanen. "In the United States, we are beginning to see more projects coming on line." MM