Mini crawler cranes are becoming stronger, lighter and more flexible

By Euan Youdale24 May 2010

Galizia’s stand at Bauma included its tracked GK20 electric model

Galizia’s stand at Bauma included its tracked GK20 electric model

In the mini crawler crane sector, load capacities are increasing as is demand for more flexible, lighter and quieter machines.

Market development is gathering pace in mini crawler cranes. Operators want more power and less ground pressure so manufacturers are stepping up activity to expand their product ranges.

At the Bauma construction qquipment exhibition last month Maeda presented the prototype of its 2.9 tonne capacity LC383M-5B mini crawler crane. The pick and carry unit is designed to work without outriggers, meaning it has a small footprint for tight spaces on construction sites.

Christer Dijner, managing director of AB Kranlyft, Maeda dealer for Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Russia, said the company had sold two units from its stand by Thursday (22 April) of Bauma week.

The crane is the smallest model in the LC range of three. Its main features include a maximum working height of 9.3 m and a 1.5 tonne pick and carry lifting duty. The specification also includes hydrostatic transmission, programmable moment limiter and four or two fall hook block. It occupies a working area of 1.65 square metres. "There are not many cranes in the world that can match that," says Dijner.

Sales have been weakened by the well documented financial crisis but there are pockets of activity, notably Abu Dhabi. AB Kranlyft has sold 20 cranes to the emirate in the last 12 months. "Other markets in that region will come up, including Qatar and Kuwait, it is just a matter of time," comments Dijner.

Then there is Turkey. "There is not a recession for cranes in Turkey, they had their banking crisis some years ago," explains Dijner. "The next target market is Saudi Arabia and Oman. Then we will look at the African continent."

Testing tracks

In October last year, Galizia launched the GK20 tracked version of its G20 wheeled electric crane. It is the first crawler based machine produced by the company and has a new 48 volt AC drive electrical system and an extendable undercarriage.

In the retracted transport position the overall width is just 820 mm, allowing it to fit through a standard doorway. For maximum capacity the tracks extend to 1.22 m, which provides a stable base for travelling on uneven ground. Overall length is 2.24 m, while height is 1.7 m. The unit includes full radio remote controls for drive and boom functions.

Fabio Galizia says requests for the tracked version came from dealers, namely GGR in the UK, whose customers required less ground pressure. "The crane has started well and we are talking to customers and dealers about making a bigger version," says Galizia. "It is a very small market but we specialize in small markets."

An important factor is the weight: a higher capacity model must not be too heavy for transport, says Galizia. "We have to be sure about it before we make that kind of investment because for us it is a new market,"

It is not yet decided if the new model will be electric or diesel. "But we have developed a very good electronic system which optimises the energy used by the crane," adds Galizia. While the G20 is aimed at glass lifting, and other low capacity applications, a new higher capacity model would be aimed at more general construction, possibly in schools, hospitals and city centres. For this reason, says Galizia, an electric version would be preferable.

Raising standards

Unic Cranes Europe will launch a new mini crawler crane, the URW-245, designed to extend boundaries set by current offerings with advanced electronics and improved capacities.

It sits between the URW-095 and the URW-295 in the Unic mini cranes range. Capacity is 2.43 tonnes at a 1.5 m radius, maximum working radius is 5.85 m and boom length is 6.19 m.

At 0.6 m wide, the URW-245 is suited to working between floors and fits easily into goods lifts without the need for disassembly, according to GGR Group, Unic Cranes Europe's parent company.

In addition, the tracked mini crane is radio remote controlled, as standard, with features ranging from an intelligent voice warning system to an overload warning device that senses outrigger displacement.

Graeme Riley, GGR Group CEO, explained the benefits of crawlers. "All mini crawlers are tracked for mobility over rough terrain and can even mount stairs. Four outriggers provide load suitability and mean the cranes can operate on sloping ground."

Unic Cranes Europe also unveiled fly jibs on three mini cranes at Bauma, which previously were not fitted with this feature. The URW-295, URW-376 and URW-506 were all shown with this option.

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