Tracking changes: crawler crane developments

17 January 2017

MIC in Japan using its 1,250 tonne capacity Kobelco SL16000J-H lattice boom crawler crane to install

MIC in Japan using its 1,250 tonne capacity Kobelco SL16000J-H lattice boom crawler crane to install a bridge

Manufacturers of crawler cranes explain to Katherine Weir about their latest models, busiest markets, the advances in transport and what’s next in development.

Benefits of using a crawler crane over other types include higher capacity, longer boom and jib combinations and reduced ground pressure. Crawlers can move on site with full load, allowing them great mobility. A compact undercarriage design helps for manoeuvres in tight spaces.

Crawler cranes have continued to be a popular choice for many applications, especially for those in power plant construction, wind turbine assembly and other super-heavy lifting jobs.

Harley Smith, global product director for crawler cranes at Manitowoc, says, “We can say that up to 160 tonne crawler cranes are mainly used in infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and railways and to lift precast concrete elements. From around 200 up to 300 tonne capacities, the cranes are used for lift works of heavy precast concrete structures and operate as live mast machines, without any capacity enhancing attachment.

“Above 300 tonnes, the cranes are used with capacity enhancing attachment to work in power plants, refineries and wind mills. Cranes around 600 to 700 tonne capacity are used in wind mill erection and maintenance, but this class could quickly move to higher capacities close to 1,000 tonnes because wind mills are continuously increasing in height and weight. The super heavy-lift crawler cranes above 1,000 tonnes are specifically used to lift vessels and for heavy lifts in refineries.”

The latest crawler models from Manitowoc are the 300 tonne capacity MLC300 and the 650 tonne capacity MLC650 introduced at the last ConExpo exhibition in 2014. The main differentiator between the newer models and the old, the company says, is the introduction of the variable position counterweight (VPC) and the VPC-Max when used with a capacity enhancing attachment.

Japanese crane manufacturer Kobelco says that the busiest market for its crawler business is at home because of the next Olympic and Paralympic Games being held there in 2020. Stadium development and urban construction around Tokyo continue on schedule. There are also many crawlers being used in the Kanto region in the eastern part of Japan as maintenance work is underway on aging infrastructure, including highways, bridges and high speed railways.

Hidehiko Murata, Kobelco sales administration group manager, says, “Our latest crawler crane model line-up is the new Mark 2 G-series. It consists of six models from the CKE-G and the BME-G series and five models from the CK-G series. The lifting capacities of these models range from 80 to 250 tonnes for the European market and 85 to 275 US tons for the North American market. The Mark 2 G-series machines have been improved to be more environmentally friendly and easy to operate.”

The company also talked about its biggest crawler to date at April’s Bauma exhibition in Germany: the 1,250 tonne capacity SL16000J-H. This crane was designed especially for the Japan crane market and crane rental giant MIC received the first unit sold.

China, India, Southeast Asia, Russia and the Middle East are major markets for Chinese manufacturer Fuwa, which recently launched its latest crawler model, the FWT100. The crawler mounted crane with telescopic boom lifts 100 tonnes and has a boom length from 13.2 to 50 metres. A new design with two hydraulic cylinders and the rope system make the telescopic boom more stable, the company says. The new model has an optional, extendable 8.5 to 21 metre fly jib and a 2 m short jib for complex construction and foundation jobs.

The company believes that the next 12 months will see Russia and the Middle East being the busiest markets for crawler cranes.

For Austria-based manufacturer Liebherr-Werk Nenzing the USA has seen a boom in demand for the company’s LR series, with the US market said to have grown at an “above average” rate over the past few years.

Wolfgang Pfister at Liebherr-Werk Nenzing says, “We presented the LR 1100 crawler prototype at this year’s Bauma, Munich, exhibition and we actively requested customer feedback. We will now integrate these comments into further developments of the model. There was lots of positive feedback on the swinging counterweight. The rear counterweight splits in the centre and is swung backwards hydraulically to a maximum angle of 90 degrees. The counterweight can adopt any position within this angle range.”

Ease of transport

In the design of crawler cranes, much attention has to be paid to the ability to transport the final product to comply with international road regulations and for ease of assembly and disassembly.

Hitachi Sumitomo Crane (HSC), based in Japan, launched its latest crawler SCX3500-3 at Bauma. The 350 tonne capacity machine has a short tail swing radius and the live mast never exceeds the rear end radius of the counterweight. This specification, along with a compact body, makes this crane suitable for working in a confined worksite.

The company describes the crawler as having a “transportation friendly body size” with a standard front rear split frame that allows for easy transportation. There is also an optional quick-draw system available for installing side frames, lower weights and boom base, helping to reduce assembly time.

Akiko Hori at Hitachi Sumitomo Crane (HSC) says, “In order to reduce the body weight and width of the component, HSC changed the layout of the engine and winches. The engine, which is normally mounted on the side of main frame, has been moved to the centre of the main frame. The winches are now positioned inside the boom base instead of the centre of the main frame.”

The latest crawler addition from Liebherr-Werk Ehingen is the 500 tonne capacity LR 1500, which is said by the company to have the dimensions and component weights that have previously been normal in the 400 tonne class.

Wolfgang Beringer at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen describes how the crane’s design helps with ease of transport, “With a maximum transport weight of 45 tonnes the new LR 1500 can be transported on all markets without any restrictions. The central crawler section with slewing platform weighs 55 tonnes; the removable A-frame allows this weight to be reduced to 45 tonnes. No quick connection is required. The transport dimensions of 3 metres in width correspond to the global transport standard.”

The designers of the new crawler have come up with a solution to increase economy with the central ballast. It consists of just a few concrete sections which can be set up quickly and easily and whose top section forms a safe catwalk for the undercarriage.

Reducing transport weight was also the focus for USA-based manufacturer Link-Belt in designing its new 298 Series 2 lattice crawler crane, built on its successful predecessor, the 298 HSL. The new boom design allows the working combination boom tip section to remain in place when transitioning from conventional mode to luffer with a maximum combination of 54.8 m of boom and 59.4 m of luffing jib.

Scott Knight, Link-Belt product manager for lattice and telescopic crawler cranes, says, “Our main focus is keeping the main load under 45.3 tonnes and making sure additional loads stay below 20.4 tonnes. With those target weights you can transport our cranes just about anywhere in the world.”

On jacks, the cranes typically sit wider than the competition for a solid self-assembly platform, the company said. The TCC-1400, a recent addition to Link-Belt’s telescopic crawler fleet, has tapered axles instead of traditional stub axles to allow for easier side frame installation.

“Transport efficiency is another key factor to the productivity of our equipment for the customers. We already take this into account when planning and designing a new crane,” says Guntram Jakobs, product marketing manager at Terex. “Our CC 3800-1 has what we call slide-in boom sections. When transporting the main boom, together with its jib, the smaller sections can slide in the larger ones, while using a standard trailer. Optionally, the boom sections can also be stacked on top of one another, once delivered on the jobsite.”

Towards the end of 2016 Terex announced its LL 330US crawler with 330 US ton (300 tonne) capacity. It was to be built in China, mainly for the US market but in January 2017 it was announced that the Jinan factory in China would close. At press time in mid-January the production location was to be announced.

The new Terex model is the first in a global line of crawlers that will fit in between the Terex HC line of cranes produced in the USA and the CC line produced in Germany. For the full story, read the October issue of IC sister magazine American Cranes and Transport.

Moving up the capacity scale there is the 650 tonne capacity Demag CC 3800-1, designed for wind turbine construction, among many other tasks. While that crane has been available for some time, relatively new is a Boom Booster kit for it that helps increase lifting capacity by up to 30 % especially in areas of the chart required for the latest and heaviest wind turbine hubs. The Flex Frame and the Split Tray were also designed to help to reduce the handling of counterweight on the jobsites. Both allow the detachment and displacement of the counterweight stack without additional handling.

New telescopic boom crawlers from the USA arm of Tadano, Tadano Mantis, include the 120 tonne capacity GTC 1200 and the 80 tonne capacity GTC 800. Ed Hisrich, Tadano Mantis VP of sales and customer support, describes the latest models as “true alternatives to lattice boom crawler cranes” as he says that they have the strongest lifting capacities in their size classes and allow operation in heavy duty applications such as foundation pile driving work.

The GTC 1200 has a 47.2 m, 5 section full power telescopic boom while the GTC 800, introduced at Bauma and going into production shortly, has a 43 m, 5 section full power boom.

Hisrich adds, “The self-erecting systems on the Tadano telescopic boom crawler cranes make disassembly, transport and reassembly of the cranes very easy. Track frames can easily be unattached from the crane without any tools. The counterweight system is operated by radio control entirely from the ground; it is very safe and quick to dismount the counterweight. Both cranes have transport configurations to allow transport at less than 3 m width.”

The future

With demand high, manufacturers are always looking for ways to increase their product offering, careful to fill any gaps in current crane lines. Italian manufacturer Marchetti offers the 25 tonne capacity Sherpina and the 70 tonne capacity Sherpa telescopic crawler models. Its busiest markets are in the UK, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Marcello Maestri, Marchetti export manager, says, “The Sherpina crawler is extremely compact, weighing just 25 tonnes and measuring only 2.5 m wide with the undercarriage retracted for transport. The Sherpa crawler has an excellent full power boom length of 42 m plus the possibility of a 14.5 m fly jib. This machine has outriggers but can also be used ‘free on tracks’ as a 55 tonne capacity crane.”

Marchetti has plans to fill a gap in its range by making a crawler in the 50 or 60 tonne capacity class.

Lampson International, based in the USA, took an economical approach to a new crawler for its fleet back in 2014 by remanufacturing several Manitowoc 4100s. The Millennium 4100 crawler has updated the old design with no free fall capabilities, computerised control systems, hydraulic hoists, a Tier 3/4i Cummins engine and its increased pull of up to 70 % tandem drum operations for endless reeving. The crane can also accept the Manitowoc Ringer and Tower attachments without modifications.

Kate Lampson at Lampson International adds, “There is certainly a demand for heavy lift crawler cranes in today’s market in power plant construction and refinery work. We also find our busiest markets to include infrastructure and sports facilities. Because of the steady demand for the Millennium 4100, we plan to continue remanufacturing our fleet of Manitowoc 4100s to fit this updated design.”

Another manufacturer that has updated its designs to meet new requirements, this time environmental, is Germany-based Sennebogen with its E-Series. The 80 tonne capacity 2200, 125 tonne 3300 and 180 tonne 5500 crawler cranes all have Tier 4f compliant engines and ‘green efficiency technology’. Their eco mode also provides high energy efficiency.

Speaking about what’s next in development for Sennebogen’s crawler offer, Florian Attenhauser says, “We plan to further our E-Series with additions to this new generation of machines. So far, we have found applications for these crawlers to cover everything from bridge construction and wind power erection to being mounted on ships for offshore lifting.”

Zoomlion’s latest model, with a lifting capacity of 100 tonnes, is the ZCC1100H, developed especially for the American market to comply with North American standards. It has free fall with load breaking process control, a lightweight structure and stress control of raising the long booms.

Ken Zhou, Zoomlion mobile cranes product manager, says that the company will be focusing on upgrading its crawler range from 100 to 650 tonnes in the next two years. “A new 500 tonne crawler crane for wind power will be introduced into the market soon,” he says. “It has the capability of lifting 100 m and above the lifting height of a 2.0 megawatt (MW) wind turbine. The crane will also provide higher operation efficiency and will be more convenient for transits.”

The company will also be introducing GPS/GPRS to its crawler crane control systems with CAN bus to transfer on time working data through the internet. This will provide users with intelligent lifting plans and crane management, the company said.

The next development for Fuwa will be the 125 tonne capacity FWT125. Hai Zhao, Fuwa Heavy Industry technical director, says, “At present we can provide 55 tonne, 65 tonne and 100 tonne capacity crawler mounted cranes with telescopic boom. Fuwa will be announcing more about the new 125 tonne capacity crawler in the near future.”

This story appeared in the October 2016 issue of International Cranes and Specialized Tranpsort magazine. To subscribe see:

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