Coil handling crane makes the impossible possible

Nova Steel is an industry leader in the manufacture of steel products that use coil as the primary input. A process at their plant was being moved from its current location to a building used for a pickle line, which meant changes to how the existing pickle line would be loaded. A new crane would be required to load 35T steel coils onto a transfer system using an existing runway rated for 20T. The crane would be critical to Nova’s 24/7 operations, as it would lift every roll of steel that went through that line.


Nova Steel


Steel processing


Overhead top-running


Zelus, using custom fabricated and IMS components


Loading 35 T steel coils onto a coil transfer system on a pickle line








  • Crane to be installed onto existing overhead runway that was rated for 20T
  • Use the existing building footings, rated for a 20T crane
  • Safely and reliably lift and move a 35T load for many years
  • No building expansions—the crane would have to fit in the existing tight space
  • Engineer, install, commission and start up without disrupting production
  • Ensure the existing overhead crane, used for maintenance, could still function safely


  • Reinforce the building columns to increase loading capacity
  • Manufacture a custom bridge to disperse the load
  • Retrofit the runway with new beams to accommodate the higher wheel load
  • Use longer end trucks to spread the load over a larger distance
  • Design an open winch hoist to fit the space and keep up with production demands
  • Phase installation to accommodate ongoing production
  • Install bridge control to prevent crane collisions and limit distance between cranes

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Nova crane

Before this project, Zelus had manufactured seven cranes for Nova and we’d developed a reputation for doing our homework and finding solutions to complex problems. They came to us with drawings of the building and asked if we could make it accommodate a 35T crane.

The constraints were considerable, including using the same runway as was used by an existing 15T maintenance crane that would continue to operate after the new crane was installed. Our solution included reinforcing the building columns, a custom bridge, retrofitting the runway, using longer end trucks, a custom built-up hoist and a collision avoidance system.

There were opportunities, as well as constraints. We chose variable frequency drive (VFD) control for all motions, knowing the solid state design and increased braking control of VFDs would increase component life. We also installed the same radio control that Nova was already using across the entire plant, ensuring there was always a stocked spare that could be used on all cranes.

We wanted to support Nova’s commitment to excellent customer service, which meant keeping them at peak production as much as possible through the process. The new crane had to be delivered and installed prior to decommissioning the existing system that was used to load the line. This meant phasing the installation, commissioning and start up while working around the production schedule.

Manufacturing took place over 18 weeks and installation was phased over 15 days. Today, Nova has a 35T crane that is reliably running 24/7—and helping to build Nova Stoney Creek’s reputation as one of the leading steel service centres in Ontario.