Capacities are increasing to meet industry requirements. Euan Youdale looks at the surge in super heavy lift crawler cranes and fixed-base ring models
The rise of the super heavy lift crawler crane over the last couple of years reflects industry requirements to lift and place increasingly heavy pre-fabricated modules and vessels at considerable radius while work continues on site. Applications are commonly found on petrochemical, coal, gas and nuclear power plants, where downtime can cost millions of dollars.
In 2011 Chinese manufacturer Sany launched its 3,600 tonne capacity SCC86000TM crawler with a load moment rating of 86,000 tonne metres, making it the highest rated crawler crane in the world. At 45 metres working radius, its rated capacity is up to 1,700 tonnes, with a lifting height of 98 m, says the company. Also in May, Zoomlion launched its 3,200 tonne capacity ZCC3200NP twin lattice boom crawler. This followed the November 2010 launch of XCMG's 2,000 tonne XGC28000 at the Bauma China exhibition.
From the western manufacturers, Lieberr's 3,000 tonne capacity LR 13000 is undergoing testing with a maximum luffing jib length of 126 m. It is mounted with a 60 m main boom for this exercise. The 2,500 tonne capacity Manitowoc 31000, is undergoing final testing of the fly jib structure. In 2010 it was erected with 95 m main boom and 114 m luffing jib - a company record. The first unit will ship to Crane Rental Corp., Florida, USA by the end of the year. A second unit is also due to be delivered by the end of 2011, potentially to a buyer outside the USA, says Mike Wood, Manitowoc product programme manager.
Manufacturers are keen to stress the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of these cranes, despite their size. The LR 13000 is a case in point, claims the company. "It is the only crawler crane in this size class which can work without derrick ballast," explains Wolfgang Beringer at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen in Germany. "This is achieved by an extremely powerful slewing ring, developed and manufactured by Liebherr, capable of transferring high torque, by contrast with the solutions from other manufacturers with ringer systems on the crawler travel gear."
Beringer continues, "To achieve the best possible lifting capacities without derrick ballast, the standard slew superstructure ballast is raised from 400 to 750 tonnes. This means that the crane can be used universally in the part-load range when the maximum lifting capacities are not called for on a particular site, and it also makes handling a great deal easier."
Production of the 3,200 tonne capacity Terex CC 8800-1 Twin, launched in 2007, is now on to its fourth unit, being built for a lifting contractor based in South East Asia. "It is going to be used for all kinds of projects: petrochemical, infrastructure and nuclear. Lifting contractors worldwide cannot afford not to look into all applications. It is only nuclear industry customers who buy it to put on nuclear power plants, then leave it there for many years," says Rüdiger Zollondz, Terex Cranes product manager.
Nuclear, however, will continue as a major application, despite the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March and its ramifications, say all manufacturers. "I think what we will see, and what we haven't seen yet, are the remodelling of some of these plants as a result of this disaster in Japan," comments Jerry Maloney, Manitowoc global product director for crawler cranes. "Except Germany, all nations are moving forward with their nuclear programmes. There are large reaches with heavy equipment and that will require larger cranes."
When it comes to cost of ownership the CC 88000-1 Twin kit, which transforms the single-boomed 1,600 tonne capacity CC 8800 into the dual-boomed giant, is a good example, adds Zollondz. "If you don't have a job for a Twin, you can use it as an 8800, which is very favourable, especially if the customer has a small fleet of 8800s; they can move the Twin kit from job site to job site. The return on investment in this case is higher than just having a regular big crawler crane or ring lift crane."
Another example is the SCC86000TM. "It focuses on global competition by module-base design and standardised components," a Sany spokesman told IC. Efficient assembly and disassembly, along with standard containerised transportation also help, the spokesman continues.
In Beringer's opinion the practical advantages for conventional crawler cranes end at the LR 13000's capacity range. "For example, the slewing ring has a diameter of 4.5 m, which is a limit for transportation on public roads. On the low bed trailer it is transported in a diagonal position. Alternative lifting systems like the PTCs can be much heavier and stronger."
Wood at Manitowoc says, "You have to look at the return for that kind of engineering investment. We have found that the 31000 hits the sweet spot in the super crane market place between the 1,000 tonners and 3,000 tonners. It can be utilised on projects better than some of the bigger machines."
Fixed base ringer cranes are taking the capacity levels even higher. Notably, it is the heavy lift service companies like Mammoet, Sarens and ALE that are producing their own version of these cranes, rather than them being supplied by the traditional manufacturers. The versatility of these machines in particular comes through their load moment rating, rather than maximum capacity, and their ability to lift heavy loads at long radius.
In 2011, Netherlands-based heavy lifting and transport specialist Mammoet unveiled its huge new super heavy lift PTC 140 DS and PTC 200 DS cranes.
Tagged as the world's biggest super heavy lift crane, Mammoet's 200,000 tonne-metre rated PTC 200 DS is an in-house design. At the 15 June launch, the largest model in Mammoet's PTC series of containerised ring-based cranes was accompanied by a 140,000 tonne-metre version also erected on the site.
Components of a third super heavy lift PTC were also on site in preparation for assembly following the dispatch of the first unit. It will go to work in Brazil in SWSL configuration using the luffing jib. The second and third units are booked for work in the USA, Mammoet said.
The three cranes represent a Euro 160 million investment, said Jan van Seumeren Jr, former Mammoet chief technical officer. Mammoet bought 12,000 tonnes of steel to build the three cranes. Parts and steel fabrications were made in Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Poland and Romania.
Applications are in building large structures on major construction projects in petrochemical, power generation and offshore industries worldwide. The cranes were designed because there is demand for the modules that are used to build refineries and other big plants to be bigger and heavier.
"A versatile crane is what we wanted," said Roderik van Seumeren, former Mammoet president and CEO. The requirement was to lift 3,000 tonnes at short radius and 700 tonnes at long radius. "We wanted a crane, not a derrick, not a gantry, not something just for one market," van Seumeren continued. "The orders already received prove that our decision was right."
Speaking at the launch event, Jan van Seumeren Jr forecast that there would be enough work in the world over the next five years to add another three units and double the existing fleet to six.
The 3,200 tonne capacity Sarens SGC-120 super heavy lift crane was also launched in 2011. The lattice boom giant, rated at 120,000 tonne-metres, was assembled in Belgium. The full 3,200 tonne (plus safety margin) test was carried out in April with 118 and 88 m boom lengths. On the shorter boom, full capacity is available to 40 m radius. Capacity is 1,000 tonnes at 80 m radius.
The SGC, which stands for Sarens Giant Crane was designed by Sarens subsidiary Rigging International in the USA with input, especially on the hydraulics design, from Sarens in Belgium. It is designed to meet US and European standards for lift cranes and is CE certified.
Lifting is done using hydraulic winches, each with 600 kN line pull. Line speed is 20 m/min and there are six winches in total. It runs on four equally loaded bogies and has two slew rings, of 28.4 and 38.3 m diameter.
In addition to its lifting capacity and reach, features promoted by Sarens for its new crane include its 43.6 m diameter footprint (to the outside of the mats), low ground bearing pressure (20 tonnes per square metre), flexibility, and low cost for transport and operation. In standard boom configuration it ships in 135 standard containers.
ALE has unveiled the second unit of its 4,300 tonne capacity super heavy lifter. The 190,000 tonne-metre-rated ALE AL.SK190-2 has undergone testing at the UK-based company's facility in Breda, the Netherlands. It is the same site where the first unit was assembled, tested and first shown in 2008.
As pictured, the boom is 118 m long and the test load is 1,500 tonnes at 65 m outreach. In that configuration it ships in around 130 containers. The main lift, at up to 10 m an hour, is by strand jacks and there is a 600 tonne auxiliary hoist by winch for faster lifting of lighter loads. Following completion of the testing, it will join its older brother for lifts around the world.
ALE claims its AL.SK190 and SK350 as the world's highest capacity land-based cranes. The 4,300 tonne capacity, 190,000 tonne-metre AL.SK190 can be converted into the 5,000 tonne, 350,000 tonne-metre AL.SK350 by adding extra structural sections.
Speaking about the AL.SK350 Michael Birch, ALE director says, "I think we will see it being used in the next three years, most likely in the offshore sector." Beyond that, Birch adds, "I am sure it will go above 5,000 tonnes and before 2020. We have some ideas now - 5,000 tonnes was not a specific limit that we set ourselves."