All terrains: versatile machines

By Katherine Weir01 August 2016

The 450 tonne capacity LTM 1450-8.1 is said by manufacturer Liebherr to have great economy and simpl

The 450 tonne capacity LTM 1450-8.1 is said by manufacturer Liebherr to have great economy and simple set-up on site

All capacity classes in the all terrain crane sector have seen recent attention from manufacturers but their focus remains on five and six axle models and larger. KATHERINE WEIR looks at the latest AT models

The many applications for all terrain cranes range from wind park construction through industrial installations to work in the oil and gas industry or infrastructure projects. They are also used for tower crane erection, placement of footbridges, installing air conditioning units and so on - the list goes on.

Manufacturers of all terrain cranes need to create machines that can fit all of these industries as well as all the different markets that fall within them. This year, manufacturers waited until April’s Bauma exhibition in Germany to unveil new models and give the market a boost.

Liebherr-Werk Ehingen is one of those manufacturers, launching its 450 tonne capacity LTM 1450-8.1. The 8 axle crane is said by the company to be able to perform jobs normally reserved for the 500 tonne class. At 85 metres it has the longest telescopic boom in the world that can be carried on public roads with a 12 tonne axle load limit.

Wolfgang Beringer, sales promotion at Liebherr, says, “The design of the new LTM 1450-8.1 is based on the requirements of the market and ideas from our customers. The main priorities in its development were great economy and simple set-up on site.”

Also at Bauma Chinese crane manufacturer XCMG unveiled its 100 tonne XCA100, part of its new G-series of 17 all terrain and truck cranes. Engines can be fitted to meet emissions standards in different countries. Its seven section, 60 metre boom and extensions can give a lifting height of 88 m. The XCA100 has an independent suspension system designed to reduce vehicle body roll and vibration to improve the ride and handling.

Demag returns

A big reveal at Bauma from Terex was a new 5 axle family as part of the return of the Demag brand name and colour scheme. Carsten von der Geest, Terex Cranes VP sales and customer support for EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia), says, “The four units feature a single engine concept with an intelligent motor management system to reduce operational and maintenance costs. With all axle steering, independent rear axle steering and dynamic launch control, the cranes have excellent manoeuvrability. In addition, the cranes stay under the 12 tonne axle transportation limit while carrying accessories.”

The new Demag range includes the AC 130-5 with 60 m main boom that builds into a system length of more than 86.5 m with extensions. It is on a 2.75 m wide five axle carrier that is 14.3 m long. The AC 160-5 has a 68 m boom and offers a 95 m maximum system length.

The 78 m boom of the AC 220-5 has the longest main boom reach of any 5 axle crane on the market, the manufacturer said, that can be extended to a full 99 m with boom extensions. The Demag AC 250-5 is the most compact of the family with 3 metre wide carrier and a total length of 14.5 m on the road. Maximum system length reaches 102 m.

Manitowoc announced two new five axle models at Bauma, the GMK5150L and the GMK5150. The GMK5150L has a 60 m boom and replaces the GMK5130-2 and the GMK5150 has a 51 m boom and replaces the GMK5110-1. Another new addition to the Grove fleet is the 4 axle GMK4100L-1, which was launched in February 2016. It is the new version of the GMK4100L with better load charts, a more compact design and a new ergonomic carrier cab, the company said.

Andreas Cremer, Manitowoc global product director for all terrains cranes, says, “The all terrain crane within the segment of telescopic cranes is the biggest global product and gets sold pretty much everywhere. The key markets are Germany, USA, France, Netherlands, UK, Australia and Japan. Historically, Russia, Brazil and Spain were previously high volume markets but have lower volumes today.”

One lump or two?

The single engine concept is not new but has enjoyed strong takeup in recent new larger capacity models from most of the manufacturers. Whether a design with one or two engines is the best compromise remains a subject that divides manufacturers. In the ‘for’ camp is Liebherr which, last year, won an ESTA award for innovation for a crane with a single engine concept using mechanical drive instead of hydraulics through the slew ring to power the upper crane works. It was described by ESTA judges as a “simple and logical operation that will be the new standard for mobile cranes.”

Similarly, Manitowoc won an innovation award in 2013 for its single engine concept on the GMK6400 all terrain. Cremer says, “The main advantages are the weight savings, which can be used to increase capacity, and the extra space. An added benefit is the fuel savings making it more fuel efficient to run a larger engine on low rpm compared to a smaller engine on high rpm. When the machine is idle, we offer fuel saving strategies similar to start/stop functions on cars, plus auxiliary power units for customers who want to reduce the consumption further.”

Ken Zhou, Zoomlion product manager for mobile cranes, says, “The single engine design for a crane with a heavy load of over 100 tonnes combines the energy saving and light weight features in line with the current development trends of the industry.”

Zoomlion’s 2,000 tonne capacity QAY2000 has a 97 m main boom. It is part of the company’s wind power series and is said by the company to be the world’s only all terrain crane to complete the installation of 3 megawatts (MW) wind turbines, thanks to its flexible main boom and jib configurations.

Terex’s recently launched 5 axle Demag family uses one engine. Von der Geest explains the positive impact on the design and functionality of the cranes, “On a daily work point of view for the operator and maintenance staff of our customers, having only one engine in the carrier helps simplify maintenance planning and maintain high uptime. Indeed, they only need to schedule downtime for one engine instead of two, and this engine is in the carrier, not in the superstructure, so this removed one instance of work at height, which is always favourable to safety.

“When we introduced our AC 100/4L a few years ago, we created a new class of cranes: a compact, manoeuvrable and powerful all terrain with a narrow 2.55 m wide chassis. Since then, many have followed our lead.”

Germany-based crane manufacturer Tadano Faun, part of Tadano in Japan, is an example of a company that has stuck with the two engine concept. Dr Uwe Renk at Tadano Faun explains, “The majority of manufactures decided to follow the one engine strategy, however, we think differently. We are the only crane manufacturer to employ two engines consistently from the 70 tonne class upwards. The reason is the benefits for our customers: performance adapted superstructure engines consume much less fuel during crane operation than big undercarriage engines. According to our investigations, we talk of average fuel savings of up to five litres per hour.”

The latest all terrain offering from Tadano is the ATF 600G-8 launched in June 2015. The 8 axle crane has a triple boom system, which has three telescopic tubes designed to increase torsional stiffness. It has an 800 tonne capacity, 15.3 to 56 m boom, 24 to 90 m boom extension and a maximum working radius of 104 m.

Rick Curnutte, senior project manager, all terrain cranes at Link-Belt, says, “Single engine machines in this class may sound simple on the surface, but they require their own additional technology and hardware. Link-Belt has been very successful with the two engine system in its all terrains, keeping the smaller fuel efficient engine in the upper, and separate dedicated systems built from the start to match power demands.”

The USA-based manufacturer has two all terrain models: the ATC-3210 with 185 tonne (210 US ton) capacity and the ATC-3275 250 tonne (275 US ton) capacity. The company describes their size, lifting chart and mobility to fit well into North America as well as gaining attention in the markets of Central and South America. Curnutte adds, “Both of Link-Belt’s all terrain cranes are available with Tier III engines for regions of the world where needed. The cranes are designed to be simple to operate and maintain, which make them popular in all markets, especially developing markets where seasoned operators and mechanics can be difficult to find.”

Reducing costs

As well as being versatile in the type of jobs they can complete and the areas on which they can travel, all terrains also need to be cost efficient. Manufacturers must continue to offer cost savings with each new model which helps persuade end users to continue to buy from its product line.

Renk at Tadano Faun says, “All terrain cranes combine the advantages of truck cranes and rough terrain cranes. All terrains have a sophisticated drive concept that first of all means that the crane can be brought to the place of use by road in a comparatively fast and cost efficient manner and secondly, enable relatively good terrain mobility on the construction site.”

Link-Belt says that it strives to design cranes to have long lasting value. Curnutte explains, “For example, grease points have been minimised with a grease-less boom. Our in-house designed Pulse system has set a new standard as an easy to use, reliable, and accurate crane operating system. Transportability is a design priority so maximising loads and minimising the number of support trucks both translate into real cost savings.”

At Terex, there is the introduction of optional axle load monitoring that displays the load on each axle to help the operator make sure the crane is within the allowed limits. Von der Geest says, “It’s good for the machine because extra load means extra driveline and brake wear, and it’s good for the customer’s bottom line. Indeed, if police controls detect overweight, the fines can be prohibitive. We help our customers avoid that.”

Terex unveiled its new control system earlier in 2016 – the IC-1 Plus. Von der Geest continues, “It helps our customers keep their costs under control. The IC-1 Plus receives data about the crane configuration: outriggers, boom angle, slewing angle and counterweight configuration. The operator now only has to confirm that the data is correct instead of programming it themselves. It computes the load chart live, offering access to extra capacity when lifting over the outriggers. This makes it possible for the customers to use less counterweight for the same jobs or to take the jobs of a larger crane.”

Ken Zhou at Zoomlion says, “The more compact and flexible body of the all terrain reduces the operating costs during transport. The high bearing capacity enables it to carry accessories or load in short distance move so as to avoid the loss caused by rented auxiliary equipment, personnel, fuel and time for disassembling and reinstalling the vehicle repeatedly.”

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