A 6 tonne capacity Unic URW-706 mini spider crane atop the Shard construction in London, UK

A 6 tonne capacity Unic URW-706 mini spider crane atop the Shard construction in London, UK

Those looking skyward from the River Thames in central London, UK over the last week may have spotted a mini crawler crane being raised 283 metres to the top of The Shard tower, under construction in the city.

As a result, the 6 tonne capacity Unic URW-706 spider crane, from GGR Group, became the highest ever compact crane in the UK, claimed the company.

The crane was dismantled into two sections and lifted by tower crane onto the eighty-seventh floor of the building which is due to be completed later this year. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and developed by Sellar Property Group, the Shard will reach 310 m in height and accommodate a hotel, offices, apartments, restaurants and a viewing gallery.

GGR's crane and specialist operators will be working from the rooftop for the next few months to lift glass panels from a storage unit on the sixty-second floor onto the levels above on the north and west sides of the building. A total of 11,000 angled glass panels will eventually cover The Shard's façade which has been specially designed to reflect the London skyline.

"The 1.67m wide Unic URW-706 can be easily dismantled, weighs just 7.9 tonnes, yet provides 6, 000 kg of lifting power, making it a cost effective and flexible alternative to traditional tower cranes," said a company spokesperson.

The variable outrigger positions of the crane made it an ideal choice to work within the limited space of The Shard's spire construction, added GGR. The outriggers were moved with millimeter precision using radio remote control before the crane was lowered onto the building's four main support columns, with little margin for error. The boom was then lifted up to the eighty-seventh floor and reattached to the crane, ready for work to commence.

"This iconic landmark is going to make a big impact across the London skyline and we are thrilled our cranes have been a part of this exciting project. It's definitely the highest point we've ever taken one of our Unic cranes to, luckily our operators that are working on site have a good head for heights," said Gill Riley, GGR Group managing director.

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