Special Handling Solutions: Petrochemical Vessel Demolition Mast

The world of heavy industry needs production processes to keep rolling in order to ensure a successful and sustainable business. But industrial equipment often requires regular maintenance and repair - the quicker and safer that can be performed, the better.

In this application, SCX Special Projects engineered a robust mast-based access solution that can be moved and redeployed to service multiple petrochemical reaction vessels, keeping the plant running, while also keeping staff safe from harm.

The Challenge

The brick linings of petrochemical reaction vessels deteriorate during use and need replacing regularly. Manual demolition of the linings is both time-consuming and a hazard to health.

To tackle this, our client developed a remotely-operated manipulator system – complete with specialised demolition tooling – to remove the brick lining, while also avoiding operator exposure. The missing link was a mechanical handling system to deploy the manipulator into the vessel.

The Solution

SCX Special Projects created a single-stage mast assembly to enable the manipulator and its tooling to access a series of the 30-metre tall reaction vessels.

The 18-metre high mast allows the manipulator to enter the vessel from above, descending 12 metres down into the cylinder. Once fully deployed within the vessel, the operators remotely manoeuvre the manipulator arm and deploy the demolition tooling.

Efficient and robust design

  • The single-stage mast takes advantage of the vessels’ outdoor location with no overhead space restrictions, while the lightweight truss is manoeuvrable without compromising on rigidity
  • The mast is constructed from galvanised steel to protect against the chlorination process and the truss is finished with saline environment paint
  • The manipulator arm features two rotation joints and two elbows to enable access to the vessel’s inner ceiling as well as the lower walls


Handling safety and control

  • Protected by a key switch to prevent unauthorised use, the 5-tonne pendant-controlled chain hoist raises and lowers the galvanised steel mast through the centre of the truss, guided and supported by two groups of freerunning wheels
  • Once in position, independent wedge brakes hold the weight of the mast in order to take the load off the hoist and extend its lifespan
  • The wheels also allow the mast to be stored safely on its side if required


Hydraulic connection

  • 16 hydraulic hoses power the manipulator and demolition tool, with quick release couplings to streamline connection and disconnection when the mast is transferred between vessels
  • The hydraulics are carefully regulated to create a controlled force capable of demolishing the brick lining, but not the structural steelwork
  • A drag chain feeds the flexible hoses from the top of the structure, down the centre of the mast, to the manipulator


Let's talk more about access masts

SCX Special Projects has significant expertise in designing and building mast-based access systems. They are well suited to deploying specialised tooling into places that are inaccessible or dangerous for human personnel, including nuclear ponds or petrochemical vessels like this one.

We examine and assess your specific handling challenge, before engineering a bespoke solution that meets your exact requirements. 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.

Note: We will never share your data with anyone and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Fail text
Success text
Industry Awards


Industry Certifications



An SCX company

SCX Special Projects Ltd

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

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199