World’s heaviest and most complex Facade Access System in numbers

It is taller than the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio the Janeiro, has the weight of two Space Shuttles and the total length of the electrical wire in this machine spans the entire Daytona International Speedway: meet the heaviest and most complex building maintenance unit (BMU, also known as a facade access system) in the world.

Nothing ordinary about this BMU

This BMU is created for an architectural masterpiece: the new headquarters of The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) of 300m (984 ft) tall, which is an iconic addition to the skyline of Kuwait. The BMU will be placed inside the crown of the tower, which is an architectural and a logistic challenge. As it comes to this BMU, almost nothing is ordinary…

This BMU will complete the facade access solution for this tower, that consists of a total of three BMUs. This third “Crown” BMU is the most complex of all three, even exceeding the top of the building itself when fully deployed.

Integrated into the building

Most BMUs are installed on roof tops, but with this BMU that is not possible, because there is no real roof. That’s why this BMU is completely integrated into the building and has a parking area inside the building. By pressing a single button, the BMU moves through a panel that mechanically opens and it will rise to its working position. The top of the machine surpasses the top of the building at 300 m (984 ft), because the BMU will have to rotate.

The magnitude of this project

The weight of the BMU is about 136.000 kg (300.000 lbs). That is roughly the same weight as 2 Space Shuttles, 12 times the weight of the anchor of a cruise ship or 140 average sized cars.

This BMU consists of a lot of parts. The largest solid piece of this BMU is 15.000kg (33.000 lbs)! This equals the weight of 2 elephants.

Some other amazing statistics

To get into more detail about this machine, we will highlight a few statistics here:

  • The hydraulic tank holds 2000 liters (530 gallons) of fluid to supply the machine. This is about 30 times as big as an average car gas tank!

  • It works with a hydraulic pump that has a flow rate of 300 liters (79 gallons) per minute.

  • The largest cylinder used for the BMU has a stroke length of 6,4 meters (21 ft)! For your information, the stroke length is about as tall as a giraffe!

  • The largest slewing ring has a diameter of 2,6 meters (8,5 ft). It would reach the ceiling of the chamber in a normal sized house when positioned upright.

  • The BMU is equipped with 4 cameras for safety and maintenance purposes and can be remotely controlled.

  • More of these amazing statistics? Download our infographic and find out more about the world’s heaviest and most complex BMU!

Produced and tested in the Netherlands

The machine will be completely produced and tested in The Netherlands. It will be built up at a location, where the ground is enforced with a special 600.000 kg (1.322.773 lbs) frame (!) to counterbalance the machine when fully deployed. The ground below the machine is able to withstand a pressure of 100.000 kg per m2 (66.807 lbs per ft2). After testing, the machine is disassembled again and shipped to the work site in Kuwait.

How it’s made

This article is the first of a series of articles where we will give you a glance behind the scenes of this amazing project and show you how this BMU is manufactured, from the drawing table to the actual placement on top of the tower.
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