The Craziest Thing: A 22,000 Pound Magnet

By Brock Jones, Modality Service Manager - MR/CT/PET/XR

As told by Brock Jones:

In the beginning of my career at Numed, I was an engineer. Part of my job included installations and de-installations all across Texas. On this day in particular, I was de-installing a .2T GE Profile MRI. The MRI was located at a hospital in West Texas and we had to crane the magnet out of the facility. We had to traverse a considerable gap to safely get this out of the facility.

Because one can’t just move an MRI machine out the front door, riggers had built a platform out of large wooden “Legos” so the magnet could be moved out of the large hole in the wall we created to get it out of the room.

Once the magnet was out on the make-shift platform, the crane operator swung his boom across the expanse, barely getting his hook into position to lift it. It was at this moment the crane operator opened his door and yelled, “How much does this thing weigh?” I simply responded, “Around 22,000 pounds.” The crane operator chuckled, amused by my answer and said something to the effect of, “There’s no way this little thing weighs that much. I hope this 19,000-pound crane can handle it.”

As he closed the door, his sarcasm hung in the air as he began the descent to pick up the magnet.

Now, picture this: A huge crane with its supports extended out past the wheels, its boom extended as far as it could reach and the ‘little’ MRI sitting on the Lego-like platform connected to this massive hook of the crane. The crane operator struggled to lift this 22,000-pound device off the platform. The crane operator and I could both hear the engine working as hard as it could to perform the task at hand. Then the MRI rose into the air, foot by foot, and it was then at 15-20 feet off the platform, that I saw the crane operator had a concerned look that turned to panic.

This is when I realized that the right-side crane supports, which were extended out past the wheels to provide a wide base and leverage for the crane, were completely off the ground. Those on the ground noticed the same and everyone immediately moved back in case of a disaster.

To the crane operator’s credit, he never let up on the lift and eventually the heavy load swung past its fulcrum and the lift was under control. When the crane supports returned to the ground, the crane operator opened his door yet again and exclaimed, “I thought you were joking about how heavy this thing is! Guess I should have brought a bigger crane!” He finished loading the magnet onto the trailer and we finished the de-installation.

It amazes me to think back on how one simple de-install could have quickly turned into a disaster, but fortunately it did not.