Customers Share Insights About Heavy-Lift Construction Projects

Erickson, Inc.’s Civil Aviation division offers a unique service to industrial projects

By Steve Reavis, commercial sales manager

Big buildings and large-scale projects require a heavy hand. For companies that need to lift air conditioning units to the roof of massive buildings, there are two ways to go – the land crane, or the S-64 Air Crane® helicopter. For many businesses, time is money (and isn’t that always the case?). With the land crane, a company can arrange for it to be transported to the installation site. Then a plan can be made to pick up and move each piece, one-at-a-time, and usually over many days as the units are lifted and installed on the roof of the casino, hotel, or distribution center. The process is laborious and time-consuming – although the result may be the same. And then in some cases, there are buildings that are almost impossible to reach by conventional methods using a land crane.

Many companies though decide that while they can use the land crane option, in many cases, due to time constraints and construction schedules, moving large objects with precision placement is a job for Erickson, Inc., and the Air Crane® helicopter.

The helicopter, along with the pilots, crew, and project management team can fly into the scheduled location and complete the project within hours, instead of days.

Projects can be completed within a portion of the time, often in half a day instead of many days within one week. The Erickson crew bids for the job, and when contracted, creates a plan with the customer to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

With all stakeholders, Erickson walks through the entire project to ensure it is all set and ready to go, well in advance of the arrival of the aircraft. Once the job begins, the project crew works toward a successful completion as they work the plan. Work doesn’t begin until the project is ready to go.

A bit about the process

Erickson will complete a site/feasibility visit to begin planning and coordination with all stakeholders, to assure all safety and FAA requirements can be satisfied. Erickson manages and receives the necessary approvals from the FAA, while assisting the customer with any further required local approvals. This roadmap is followed by all parties right up to the day before scheduled lift activity, when to assure success, the Erickson Operational team will review and verify the lift plan, equipment, rigging, and other site preparations.

Customers share successful stories from their projects with Erickson

P1 Construction

A great example project is with customer Nick Lawless, project manager for the P1 Construction Group out of Lenexa, Kansas. He has worked with Erickson in the past on a project for Century Link. Lawless is experienced in working with helicopter companies, so he knows what to look for when determining the best company for his project.

He said, “We chose Erickson due to experience of professionalism and capabilities. With some of the heavier picks we were performing on this project, it was a no-brainer on who we should partner with.”

The project entailed placing over 40 rooftop HVAC units of various sizes and weights, some with multiple sections. Lawless said, “This was done over a 10-acre roof span, and even with the later start due to frosted rooftops waiting to burn off for safety, the Erickson team got the project knocked out earlier than any of us expected.”

Lawless shared that Erickson exceeded their expectations on the project because, “With the challenges of the ever-changing job site conditions, tight-fitting curbs, and a short window to accomplish the lifts, Erickson impressed everyone involved. From our rigging and setting crews to the ground crew and building owner, (there were) nothing but compliments all around.”

Com Plus, Inc.

Between weather and external conditions, challenges exist in nature. Another recent project that could have been extremely time-consuming was the movement of a public broadcasting antenna from one location to another. Com Plus, Inc. President Marco Bucio out of Frazier Park, California had not hired a heavy-lift helicopter company before. When they were hired for the antenna project, Bucio said, “Erickson came across my desk – they have a great reputation.” In the past, he had heard of Erickson, regarding another project, but didn’t get the project at the time. “We found Erickson’s information when needed. Something sticks on your mind when it comes up at the right time.”

The antenna in the project was 70 feet long, and 12,000 pounds. Bucio said they moved the television broadcast antenna from Mount Harvard to Mount Wilson. He added, “If an antenna is down, there is no television, no channels. It is part of a project that broadcasts to 2 million people, it is a major television station.”

When asked, Bucio concluded that Erickson met or exceeded the needs of the project, “First, yes they did.” He liked Erickson’s commitment to safety. He added, “Everything was professionally done, and up to standards from the work in the office, coordination of the paperwork, to insurance, to sending money – all coordinating worked out well. I highly recommend Erickson to anyone with a big project; we don’t use the word “Rolodex” anymore, but they would be in my Rolodex.”

Now, Bucio said that Erickson is their “go-to” for similar projects in the future.

York Plumbing Tulsa

Another big air conditioning project, this time on a casino near Tulsa, Oklahoma, required lifting and placement of HVAC units from 7,800 to 17,000 pounds (about the size of a school bus). Duane Daniels, of York Plumbing in Tulsa was the project manager and had worked with other helicopter companies before. He said, “Erickson was the customer’s preference, but we would have probably ended up with Erickson anyway.” The decision to hire Erickson was made after doing some online research.

Daniels said he liked the organization of Erickson’s project managers. He noted, “They put a game plan together, went over the details, several times – and made sure nothing was left out; things went smoothly.”

For a project of this scale, Daniels said that the scene had to be evacuated, so time was of the essence to finish the project. The project took about six hours to complete. He added that the project was well worth it, “definitely with the time saved. With conventional methods, with a (land) crane, it would have taken at least two days.”

He concluded, “The customer was extremely happy with the project between Erickson and York Plumbing Tulsa.”

In summary

Across the heavy-lift industrial realm, customers do have options for how to move things like antennas, air conditioning units, and other large equipment and machinery. Erickson’s customers consistently say that the project organization, approach to safety, and considerable time savings makes using Erickson’s S-64 Air Crane® helicopters well worth the time and investment.


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Learn more about HVAC and Specialty Construction at Erickson.