Special Handling Solutions: Kiln Access System

Industrial processing relies on heavy production line machinery, installed in large plants, and invariably at a scale that requires specialised access equipment to facilitate maintenance and repair.

In this bespoke application, SCX's expertise is called upon to provide a safe, stable and reliable man-riding platform for maintenance staff to descend below ground to access kilns used in the smelting of aluminium.

The Challenge

Many industrial plants, such as aluminium smelters, rely on processes that take place below ground. Smelting kilns are often built beneath the workshop floor, and require regular maintenance and repair to keep smelting process quality levels high.

SCX Special Projects was given the challenge of designing and installing a bespoke solution to provide maintenance access into the kilns. The system would need to deploy both personnel and equipment 5 metres down into the kilns and retrieve them in a safe, efficient and flexible way.

The Solution

SCX’s solution is a man-riding platform system, comprising a mobile base frame onto which a number of traversing and elevating cradles can be mounted. The entire base frame can be lifted with an overhead crane and moved around the workshop to service multiple banks of kilns.

Once positioned over the kiln pit, the frame’s cradles are lowered and raised to and from the kilns, providing full, safe access for staff along with their maintenance equipment.

A flexible, adaptable design

  • SCX’s mobile solution means that one frame can be deployed to many kiln pits around the plant as required
  • The base frame and cradles can be customised to the client’s requirements – one solution had just one cradle mounted to a 500kg SWL base frame, serving eight kilns at a time
  • The entire system can be lifted and moved in one piece by an overhead travelling crane, via lifting chains mounted on the base frame


Multiple installations

  • SCX’s first installation of its kiln access system was for an aluminium smelter in the Middle East
  • The design was customised to deliver a 1750kg SWL base frame, which housed two separate cradles to access its large banks of kilns
  • SCX went on to deliver further bespoke kiln access systems, including for Fjardaal Aluminium in Iceland and Mosjoen Aluminium in Norway


High standards of safety

  • The system is self-powered, so that once in position, the overhead crane can move on to its next task
  • Electric motors raise and lower each cradle into the kilns via two wire lifting ropes – and once the maintenance duties have been completed, the cradles raise up and lock into position on the base frame
  • SCX engineered the system to meet BS EN6037 standards, incorporating back-up ropes to provide multi-layered safety for the operators


Let's talk more about industrial access systems

Our innovative engineering approach takes proven components from the safety-critical lifting industry, and combines them with our mechanical and electrical design expertise to create a bespoke solution to your specific access challenge.

We have decades of experience in creating man-riding industrial access solutions – from overhead travelling gantries, to roof-mounted jib cranes, to self-erecting scaffolding and more. Talk to us today.

Call us on +44 114 262 6199, email us at, or complete the contact form below and we'll be in touch.

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199