Valk Welding robots to weld parts of 'New York Wheel'

Early 2016 the fabrication of the "New York Wheel", the world's largest observa-tion wheel is started. It will rise up on St. George, Staten Island, and is expected to attract 3.5 million visitors annually.

The 'New York Wheel' project is a so called EPC project and built under management of the joint venture Mammoet Starneth LLC. The construction and transport of the wheel components will be coordinated by Mammoet USA. Huisman is one of the suppliers and will deliver the hub-spindle, braces, drive towers, the rigid spokes, and the assembly frame for the rigid spokes. At its Czech branch, Huisman Konstrukce s.r.o., the hub and rim connections and the 11-metre-long spokes are produced. It will use welding robots from Valk Welding for welding pre-assemblies.


Huisman develops and builds heavy construction equipment for the onshore and offshore market and the leisure industry.

Huisman's Czech branch is mainly used for building sub-assemblies for pipe-laying systems and complete cranes, which are assembled on ships by Huisman in Schiedam. Because of its price and broad knowl-edge and experience in welding steel S690 for heavy constructions, and also because of the trust Mammoet puts into the company, Huisman is one of the most important suppliers for this project.

Temporary spoke structures

The temporary spokes (rigid spokes) consist of compound sheeting and pipe structures, which are welded in 11-metre sections and coated, after which they are shipped to New York. There, at the Marshalling Yard, the individual spoke sections will be assembled and will support the construction of the wheel. Once the wheel structure has been completed, the temporary spokes will be replaced by steel cables. The production of all the main and secondary steelwork for the New York Wheel will keep Huisman busy for over six months.

Valk Welding robots weld and cut

Huisman Konstrukce s.r.o. has two Valk Welding welding robots and a plasma cutting robot for cutting welding edges in thick sheet mate-rial. Over the past four years the company has considerably extended its knowledge and experience of robot welding, supported by training courses at Valk Welding Cz.

The Dutch Head of Quality Control and Welding Coordinator, Mat Pustjens, regularly shares his experiences with Valk Welding. "Together we maintain staff knowledge of software at the highest level, so that we can also make the most of the latest software options.

High complexity in very thick sheets

Mat Pustjens: "The parts for the spokes are welded with the robot by means of MAG welding, with different filled wires in several A4 to A7 layers. We also process products for other customers with different complexities from sketch to end product. We program this in DTPS
(offline programming and simulation software) whenever possible. For butwelds from 40 to 100 mm, which are sometimes welded in as many as 120 layers, we use ThickPlate software, a plug-in in DTPS. Process-ing such heavy structures is where much of our expertise lies. With the welding robots we have better control of the heat application than is the case with manual welding, so we achieve a better quality and a higher efficiency rate, which also means less post-processing work." www.huismanequipment.com

A Dutch affair

After the world-wide tendering for the wheel components, various contractors have been selected, the majority of which are from The Netherlands: The 36 capsules are built by four VDL companies, and Huisman supplies most of the constructive steelwork. Tecmacom is supplying the spoke cables, Philips provides the LED lighting, and IHC delivers the push-pull unit for the installation. Mammoet, Starneth, Huisman, VDL Groep, Philips, Tecmacom and IHC are all Dutch companies.

Big Wheel for the big apple

  • New York Wheel is the tallest observation wheel in the world and tops out at 630 feet (192 m) high. This is the overall height; the diameter of the wheel is 600 feet (183 m)
  • Propulsion 32 friction wheels mounted to electrical drive motors placed in 4 independent drive towers.
  • In total Mammoet will be erecting 10,000 tons of steel.
  • The wheel will feature 36 iconic pods, each of which can carry up to 40 people.

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