ICUEE 2007

17 March 2008

The transmission segment of the US power infrastructure seems to be getting well–deserved, although perhaps late, attention and as a consequence contractors are adopting bigger equipment. New high–reach aerial devices on show at ICUEE from Bronto Skylift and Terex Utilities will be testament to that.

However, there will be plenty more that's new in Louisville, including machines from big–name suppliers, including Time Manufacturing, Altec Industries and Elliot Equipment, and the ‘relaunch’ of Aichi USA's utility lift business in North America. But it is developments in hybrid power technologies for utility lifts that are likely to prompt most interest from lift buyers and users.

The importance of this technology is highlighted by the fact that Terex Utilities will have no less than three hybrid–powered utility lifts on its stand. Two of these will be ‘conventional’ hybrid models on Peterbilt and International trucks – these use either the braking power of the truck or its diesel engine to charge a battery that can then help to reduce engine running costs.

The third hybrid, however, is the new “plug–in” version, built by Dueco, a Terex Utilities dealer and one of its final stage manufacturers, based in Wisconsin. Dueco vice president, Joe Dalum, says the proprietary hybrid technology, called PHEV (plug in electric vehicle) – which has been developed by Odyne Corp in Hauppauge, New York – allows charging of the system's high–capacity batteries from a mains supply while at the depot as well as from the truck's generator while on the road.

The vehicle has a Terex Utilities 55 ft (17 m) working height, TL50M material handling bucket with 400 lbs (183 kg) of capacity and 36 ft (11 m) of lateral reach on an medium–duty chassis from truck manufacturer International. GVW will be under 33000 lbs, exempt from US excise tax.

Utility equipment rental companies are understandably interested in this kind of technology, and Utility Equipment Leasing Corp (UELC) – one of the largest utility lift renters in North America – is also promoting the new model at the show.

The largest of the three Terex hybrids will be the HRX–55 overcenter material handling aerial device mounted on a Peterbilt model 335, medium–duty truck. The company says the boom is one of the larger aerial devices to be mounted on a hybrid chassis. “The vast majority of aerial devices on hybrids were designed for the ‘trouble truck’ segment, but it actually makes more sense for line maintenance and construction units, due to the time used at the work site and the amount of driving to get there,” says Terry VanConant, manager, marketing & sales support at Terex Utilities.

If hybrids are about increasing efficiencies and reducing operating costs, there are other trends that will be evident at ICUEE this year.

Terex Utilities’ Terry VanConant told AI; “One trend in the industry is toward a younger workforce, who are adept with joysticks from their video game experiences. Consequently, Terex is pushing better adoption of joy–stick controls.”

For example, there you will find joystick controls on the company's 167 ft (51 m) working height TM–167, introduced at the last ICUEE and using an Italian–made Bizzocchi boom supplied by CTE. The model's recently enhanced control system automatically levels the 1000 lb (455 kg) capacity, 180º rotating platform, and video screens display system status at the machine's two control stations. Other enhancements “…make work easier and safer, both for operator and the equipment, more fail safe,” said Mr VanConant.

Bronto Skylift says the control system of its S–170 XDT – getting its US launch at ICUEE – is key to effectively and safely reaching 170 ft (52 m) of platform height and an outreach of 115 ft (35 m). The Finnish company says that is the best available in North America. The system “…takes the idiot out of the operator. It allows us to remove a lot of the boom overbuild [to ensure structural performance] that a lot of US manufacturers have to use,” said Steve Starling, Bronto's sales manager in North America.

Bronto's system, called +3, monitors basket load and position and outrigger settings to automatically keep the basket within safe limits. The machine has a 1400 lb (640 kg) maximum payload.

Making it easier to cross the great distances necessary to get to transmission lines is the 8x6 International chassis of the S–170 XDT. The vehicle weighs about 58000 lbs (2630 kg) and is road legal in all states, and the platform boom folds next to the main boom for a 13 ft (4 m) transport height. Transport length is 39 ft (12 m).

Controls also feature in products from Altec Industries at the show. Its new, 167 insulated, articulated boom aerial device range – TA50, TA55, and TA60 – have four–function, single–handle controls, which feature the company's ISO–Grip control system. These machines also have an ARM material handling jib.

The company will exhibit its new AA55E, an insulated 55 ft (17 m) working height, nonovercenter aerial device with material handling capability. This model has a maximum lateral outreach of 43 ft (13 m).

Other utility lift specialists are also using ICUEE to launch new products. Canada's Posi–Plus Technologies will exhibit a new insulated access platform, the LineMaster 50, which features an “Over center design and a 83 ft [25 m] aerial device with double bed lift elevator to allow access to the ground and working positions behind poles. It is available in single, dual, or two–man platform versions with a full material handling system.”

Lift–All says new products now give it “…a full line, from 10 ft single to 35 ft double elevators, available for personnel lifts and material handlers, providing increased reach without increasing the chassis length.”

Re–launching itself in the North American utility market, meanwhile, is Aichi USA, which is no longer working with Baker Equipment (with whom it previously had a joint venture). The company will show its truck–mounted INH30A and the INU38A platforms, and Elliott Equipment will have a 30 t (13600 kg) capacity, track–mounted boom truck.

On the small utility vehicle side of the business, Equipment Technology Inc is launching a new, 3–6000 lbs (1360–2720 kg) lift capacity crane line, and it will exhibit a new battery replacement truck for use by cable companies, as well.

Utility lift buyers will also see some interesting attachments or ancillary products at ICUEE. For example, Diversified Product Development will show its new SLL–60 Static Line Lifter. The company explains how it works; “The SLL–60 supports the static line with the same crane being used to hold multiple energized conductors. This frees up bucket trucks or other equipment previously dedicated to holding the static line, thereby allowing linemen to make use of the equipment to perform other functions. The SLL–60 also maintains the static line's relative position above and ahead of the conductors.” The SLL–60 has a 1000 lb (454 kg) lift capacity, is 5 ft (1.5 m) long and tested to 13.5 kV.

All in all, there will be lots to see, and the new “drive and ride” area will provide lots to do, at ICUEE this year.

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