Bright future

11 April 2008

Drawing of Liebherr's patent concept to attach two crawler cranes at the boom

Drawing of Liebherr's patent concept to attach two crawler cranes at the boom

Worldwide demand for heavy crawlers in 2007 could be as high as 150 units, up more than 20% from IC 's 2006 forecast. While Terex Demag continues to dominate the sector, Liebherr is developing the heavy end of its range and Kobelco is also moving in that direction.

In October Terex Demag unveiled what it describes as the biggest mobile crane in the world. The 3,200 tonne lifting capacity CC 8800-1 Twin lattice boom crawler was handed over to customer Al Jaber Heavy Lift & Transport LLC at a launch event in Germany.

Alex Mullins, general manager at the company, explains how the crane is the result of many years of intense development between Terex Demag and Al Jaber. As a pick and carry crane the CC 8800-1 Twin can travel with full load and saves time and space compared with ring lift cranes and lifting platforms, according to the manufacturer.

The Twin will be put to work in the petrochemical industry, power station construction sector and on major infrastructure projects. It can lift refinery vessels more than 120 m tall, 8 m in diameter and weighing 1,200 tonnes. Site preparation and time spent in the sterilisation area is minimised, Mullins explained, as the crane can be rigged outside, tracked in for the lift, and then driven out again.

The lifting power of the parallel booms can quadruple the lifting power of the single boom CC 8800-1, on which the Twin is based. All accessories from the CC 8800-1 can be used and, likewise, a Twin Kit is available to transform the earlier model.

At the launch, Steve Filipov, Terex Demag president, told IC there were three firm orders for the crane. In November it was revealed that ABG Heavy Industries, one of India's largest crane rental companies, would become the second owner of the Twin. (See News).

Dual concept

Continuing its move into higher capacity cranes is Liebherr. The manufacturer sought a preliminary patent for a unique way of increasing the lifting capacity of its existing cranes. The design concept is to join two large-capacity cranes together at the boom head, with an additional frame fixed between the two carbodies, resulting in an “A-shaped” machine.

The petty patent covers a centralised control system, which would allow both cranes to carry a single load at the same time. “The idea is to combine two crawler cranes to get a stronger one. We are always thinking about stronger cranes and this is an example of that,” explains Wolfgang Beringer at Liebherr Werk Ehingen in Germany where the large crawler cranes are built. Beringer added that the design was very much at concept stage and there were, at present, no plans for production.

Earlier this year at the Bauma exhibition in Germany, Liebherr introduced the world to its LTM 11200-9.1, the first 1,200 tonne capacity telescopic mobile crane with a record 100 m boom. The nine-axle machine is the most powerful telescopic crane in the world, providing a maximum lift height of 170 m with full boom and jib.

Also at Bauma, dominating the Manitowoc Crane Group display, was the Grove GTK1100, aimed at wind turbine erection, along with industrial and city centre sites. The 1,100 tonne-metre rated model has a lifting capacity of more than 70 tonnes to a height of more than 120 m and maximum lift height of more than 140 m. Benefits of the unconventional design are when lifting at height or where set-up space is restricted, says MCG. The GTK1100 has a multi-axle wheeled carrier and a luffing telescopic boom, connected by an 81 m, six-section telescopic mast. Four spreaders at the top of the mast attach to outriggers at the base for stability.

Rental rise

In the rental sector, Belgium-based Sarens, one of the world's largest crane operating companies, is demonstrating just how strong the market is. Sarens has ordered a series of high-capacity lattice boom crawler cranes, including Terex Demag CC 6800, CC 8800-1 and CC 9800 (read on for more about this new crane), in lifting capacities ranging from 1,200 to 1,700 tonnes, says Hendrik Sarens, director of the heavy lift department.

These cranes, Sarens comments, are more flexible on site and are easier to transport than, for example, Sarens' biggest lattice boom crane of the fleet, the PC 9600. “The need for bigger cranes on the market is increasing as preassembled vessel and module weights or wind turbine generators are increasing every day.”

The CC 9800 is developed from the CC 8800-1 and has four metre boom sections, which increase lifting capacity to 1,650 tonnes. Sarens is the first to order the model, which is designed for erecting 5 and 6 MW wind turbines. Delivery is due mid-2008.

Hand in hand with increased demand for new heavy lift cranes is extended lead times to manufacture cranes and their components, a subject covered extensively by IC. According to Sarens, however, there are other, more bureaucratic, issues that affect its day-to-day operations. These include transport permits in some EU countries, lack of certified ships able to transport heavy goods worldwide and the increase in the value of the Euro.

Sarens is also a good example of how many groups are expanding by taking over smaller companies. This year Sarens purchased Cherbourg Levage in France, with its fleet of 30 smaller lattice boom cranes, says Sarens, as well as taking a majority share of crane services company Kristiansund Kranservice in Norway. It also purchased Riwal's crane division in the Netherlands.

Overall, company investments were several times higher than previous years, adds Sarens, with consolidated sales reaching €250 million (US$371 million).

The company's top markets continue to be Asia, Middle East and the EU where growth is forecast to increase by 20% in 2008.

Increasing demands and bigger cranes means applications are becoming ever more impressive. Here, IC reports on a small selection of the heavy lift work being carried out across the world.

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