Penetrating The Piazza

19 March 2008

Down a narrow street off the historic Piazza Ducale in Vigevano, north Italy, a Gelco Clever Crane is hard at work adding its lifting power to a residential and business renovation project.

While self erecting tower cranes are a familiar sight on the Italian landscape, where small building plots almost seem obliged to include one, Gelco's version has a unique feature. Designed by company owner Franco Corradi the chassis of the TTBE Clever Crane models can be raised 2.75 m from ground level on their four jacks. This portal design means that cars and pedestrians can pass under the crane during its stay at the jobsite.

By early June the G 2424 TTBE had already been at the piazza and set up over the 4 m wide road for more than six months, lifting materials from the piazza floor to help create a shop, residential flats and commercial offices.

Another unique feature is the crane's manoeuvrability, the manufacturer says. It can be folded down to an 8.4 m long by 1.8 m wide unit, resting on a compact trailer to which a two-wheeled motorised cart is then attached. An operator can navigate the unit through narrow streets on 25% inclines, including steps, to reach sites previously out of bounds for cranes.

In this case the Clever Crane was brought in under a low archway off the Piazza. The base was folded out to fit the width of the street and lifted in stages using a hydraulic pump, before the three section telescopic tower and jib were erected. The whole process can take just 40 minutes.

Severino Accossato, exclusive distributor for the Gelco range through his company Compass Consulting, explains that the third telescopic boom section allows the length of the folded crane to be reduced by 45% during transport and increase its total height by 35% when it is working.

“This is the only type of crane that can be set up without a counterweight. It has a rear jib that can hoist the counterweight on to the crane. And it is the only crane that it is possible to use here.”

There are 12 Clever Crane models; six with, and six without, the hydraulic jack feature. All are constructed at the Gelco factory in Rosate, Milan. According to Accossato, 102 rental companies in Italy already own a Clever Crane - one of them has 70-and there has recently been interest from elsewhere in Europe.

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