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August 2018: Maintaining one of the largest fleet of equipment in the world, Sarens fleet department, comprising of around 300 technicians, works in over 60 countries worldwide. The team works on new systems, to make it easier for monitoring our equipment with the ultimate end goal to have a minimum downtime and excellent project execution. 

Guy Frederickx, Group Fleet Director and Theo Goossens, Preventive Maintenance Manager share their insights on the global fleet team and their roles and responsibilities: 

Tell us about Sarens fleet of equipment, size, and type both.
Sarens has one of the largest and most comprehensive fleet in the world, consisting of more than 1500 cranes and 3100 axle lines. There are more than 21 cranes of 1000T capacity active in our fleet, of which the largest one is the SGC-140, a massive 140.000tm in-house designed ringer crane. Soon the SGC-250, which is currently in construction phase will be added to the fleet.  This will be the largest mobile land based crane available. 

What role has the fleet department played in the success of Sarens and how has it evolved in the last 60 years?
Sarens fleet department is a crew of highly skilled, trained, and motivated professionals who work every single day, both on remote jobsites and in the workshop, to keep our equipment in a state-of-the-art condition. It’s the people that make the difference.  

As the global fleet team we explore new technics to keep our fleet updated according to the best market practices. Initially the team worked towards preventive maintenance which was limited to changing oil/filters/greasing and repairing the broken cases. To keep up with technologically advanced equipment and always stay ahead of competition, we started predictive maintenance. 

The guiding principle of Predictive and Preventive Maintenance (PPM) is the regular and systematic application of engineering knowledge and maintenance attention to equipment and facilities to ensure their proper functionality and reduce their rate of deterioration. In addition to dedicated engineering, PPM encompasses regular examination, inspection, lubrication, testing, and adjustments of equipment without prior knowledge of equipment failure. PPM also provides the framework for all planned maintenance activity, including the generation of planned work orders to correct potential problems identified by inspection. This always ensures that the cranes are maintained in an excellent state and always execute projects in a safe manner. 

Sarens is unveiling some of the mighty cranes in the market, like the SGC 140. Could you tell us about this new crane?
The SGC-140 is one of the largest cranes in the world. It belongs to the SGC family of cranes, a group of four cranes, namely: SGC-90, SGC-120, SGC-140, and SGC-250. Its lifting capacity is 45% greater than the previous largest crane, the SGC-120. With a lifting capacity of 2820T at a radius of 50m, the SGC-140 has three different boom configurations of 89m, 118m, and 130m. It has a maximum ground pressure of 25T/M2 and has in-service and out-of-service wind speeds of 22,4 m/s and 56 m/s respectively. The outer diameter of the ring at the base of the crane is 43,6m and there are 96 wheels for the crane to run on around the double rail ring track. There are four main hoist winches and two boom hoist winches. The main hoist winches store 1.300m of 50mm rope, while the boom hoist winches have 2.100m. Maximum single line pull is 536kN. Each of the six power packs have two Caterpillar diesel engines, one in operation and one as emergency backup, providing hydraulic and electrical power throughout the crane. Each of the 40 specially designed and constructed corrugated steel containers make up the counterweight - weighing 100T when filled with local material. During transport, the containers are emptied of material and used to ship parts and components of the crane. The crane’s power systems have been upgraded to meet Tier-4 Final emissions standards, allowing the crane to be deployed worldwide without the need for additional emissions controls. New features added to the crane include:

  • 4000T counterweight
  • Reinforced boom and mast
  • Upgraded boom hoist system
  • Improved winches and power pack units
  • New rail and bogie design 

The transport of the crane requires 150 trucks. Despite the extraordinary size, the assembly takes about six weeks. Once assembled, the colossus is operated and maintained by two operators who alternate. 

We have seen Sarens dramatically increase its fleet size by adding technically advanced cranes from Demag? How do you think it further establishes Sarens as the reference?
Most of these cranes are being allocated to new depots set up in region around Paris and London.  This will allow us to be closer to one of the key locations in Western Europe in the coming years. All of the new Demag all terrain cranes on order by Sarens are equipped with advanced safety technology such as the IC 1 plus system which monitors outriggers, counterweight, and adds commercial value by allowing cranes to utilise asymmetric outrigger setup and work in narrow areas as city centres. 

Tell us about your personal favorite crane and why do you choose it?
The LTM 1500-8.1 is a phenomenon in the mobile crane world. First unveiled by Liebherr at the Bauma 1998, the 500T machine has developed into a bestseller and is now delivered all over the world. The Liebherr crane is the most successful telescopic crane in its class in the world and got a delivery record in the large crane class. The LTM 1500-8.1 can operate with a main boom length ranging from 50m to 84m lifting height. Further, with the luffing jib on it one can reach a maximum lifting height of around 150m.

This was the first big crane that joined my fleet when I was looking after the fleet management in Qatar, and hence my favourite. Moreover, at that time Sarens was the only company capable and responsible for the assembling and disassembling big tower cranes at all the projects in Qatar.

Could you name a few projects undertaken by the department?
Fleet department is continuously working on new systems to make it easier for us to monitor our equipment with the ultimate end goal of having minimum downtime and excellent project execution. A few examples of projects undertaken by our department that contribute to the success are: 

  • Telematics System or the Black Box: The system helps us to follow-up on the equipment from remote locations. The black box is installed on all our rolling equipment. The data collected enables Sarens to plan and schedule preventive maintenance on such equipment. The same technology also observes if the crane’s safety system has been compromised, caused by either a technical fault or an operator bypassing the safety system. The moment an operator performs an unsafe action the responsible manager is informed by a text message and can take immediate action. All our equipment are enabled with live wind speed meters which tell us about the safe conditions to safely perform the lift at a given time and height. 
  • Predictive Maintenance to Reduce Unscheduled Downtime: For our predictive maintenance project we worked towards measuring and analysing oil conditions of our equipment.  We currently take oil samples from the engine oil every time we do an oil change and every 2000 hours we taken an oil sample from all the oil driven components. This process is handled manually which is time consuming as well as prone to errors. Our new system, having sensors controlling contamination of oil, will automate the process to have discrete live results in minimum time. 

Could you share with us the details about the fleet team at Sarens, worldwide?
Each business unit has their own fleet team set up for the daily fleet maintenance and repair activities. On group level, there’s also what we call the “flying brigade” of highly skilled and specialised mechanics that travel worldwide to assist local BU’s in case of complicated issues or to support projects worldwide. 

What training and development tools and processes do we use within the fleet team?
The technology used in cranes has evolved rapidly since the time Sarens first started operating with cranes. Initially, the cranes available in the market had all mechanical controls, a chassis with a motor, a boom, and a few handles to operate. But the current generation cranes are equipped with modern high-tech components and electronics. To maintain these sophisticated machines we train and test our technicians. All the technicians are tested on their actual knowledge of our equipment. This test is a multi-prochoice system built in 18 different disciplines, beginning with basic knowledge of a machine with the different components, read out from the board computer, and trouble shouting. Based on the results we set up customised trainings, either in-house or with the manufacturer.

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