Efficient front-end planning of costly equipment and labor is the backbone of the industrial project schedule. Traditionally, heavy lift planning is done in the preconstruction phase. Lift engineers organize disparate details — weights, dimensions, positions, locations, available person power — into a coordinated lift sequence largely built around the project’s most critical lifts. In doing so, sequencing is more manageable to the engineer who, despite extensive experience and refined intuition, cannot efficiently compute all possible options into an optimized plan.

PCL developed the HeviLift suite of programs to bridge the gap between limited human processing power and that of today’s computers. Refined over the course of nearly two decades, HeviLift has become a staple on PCL industrial projects, valued for its ability to create more efficient schedules while lowering costs.

“HeviLift was driven by our desire to optimize the cranes used on a job site, first because the rental costs are so expensive,” says Travis Zubick, assistant manager of construction engineering for PCL Industrial. “It also minimizes the amount we’re moving these cranes around the job site, which reduces disruption and ground preparation, all of which create huge costs for the client.”

At crane selection, HeviLift dives into its extensive database and analyzes detailed specifications on an industry-wide inventory of crane equipment. The program runs numerous lift cases to identify the optimal equipment based on the intended loads and site conditions such as ground elevations, boundaries, and laydown areas.

With crane selection accomplished and site data established, HeviLift then computes optimal crane placements from thousands of possibilities. The program recognizes any potential complications that may arise due to boom clearance, tail swing, and nearby obstacles.

HeviLift's sequencing tools make the program truly shine. Its algorithms effortlessly simulate thousands of possible lift sequences and assess cost and timing impacts of each. These figures, expressed alongside 3D modeling animations, provide owners with an unprecedented level of detail and insight to help visualize lift sequences and make informed decisions that impact budgets and timelines.

Each HeviLift component can be used separately to help with lift planning. This scalability makes it an effective tool for simple or complex projects and on work sites of all shapes and sizes. 

HeviLift’s strengths lie in its ability to take a more global look at a construction project, with impacts that go far beyond the lifts.

“We’re looking with a view to how construction progresses past the lifts and into detailed piping, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, insulation, and commissioning scopes,” Zubick says. “How can we make this plan most efficient to provide the greatest impact to the full construction lifecycle, not just the heavy lifting?

With the help of automation, HeviLift creates in minutes what would otherwise require innumerable hours for a lift engineer. When used in conjunction with PCL’s Lift Frame, schedule durations can be shortened by as much as 35% compared to traditional lift planning approaches. This approach to planning can reduce the construction timeline by several months, especially if applied early in the process when it’s easier to anticipate and implement cost-cutting or time-saving alterations.

It’s a win-win for both PCL and its clients, and more evidence of PCL’s place as an innovator and solutions provider intent on saving time, energy, and costs on the jobsite.