Why crawler cranes should be in your fleet
By Niamh Marriott01 June 2023
Crawler cranes, both new and updated, are proving their power on construction sites. Niamh Marriott reports
Japanese manufacturer Tadano says the demand for crawler cranes worldwide is stabilising at a very high level at the moment.
“Many infrastructure projects such as bridge renewals and the construction of new power plants, but also the growing demand for renewable energies and the related approval of new wind power plants, have caused demand to rise,” says a spokesperson for the company.
Tadano builds crawler cranes in Germany and the USA. It announced at the ConExpo 2023 trade show that its CC range of cranes from Germany will soon be available with an electric drive.
Its engineers are working on giving the CC 88.1600-1, the company’s second biggest crane, an electrified option. An electrical cable connection will ensure that the crane will be able to run with zero CO2 emissions, with the lattice boom crawler crane’s electric motors planned to have a power of 2 x 390 kW so that it can deliver the same lifting capacity as its diesel-driven counterpart.
After launching boom booster kits for its CC 38.650-1 and CC 88.1600-1, Tadano also launched its kit for its CC 68.1250-1 at the bauma 2022 trade show which, the manufacturer says, can increase the crane’s lifting capacity by 30 per cent. The kit not only increases the maximum hook height from 180 to 194 metres but also the maximum load weight at this hook height from 98 to more than 100 tonnes. This means the CC 68.1250-1 can erect wind turbines with hub heights up to 185 metres. The kit is available as both an accessory for new cranes and as a retrofit for the CC 68.1250-1.
ConExpo showcased the latest crawler cranes on the market, including brand new models as well as updated machines, and the industry responded with huge orders.
Kobelco announced earlier in the year that it would be launching seven new and repowered crawler crane models for the US market. It showed three of them at the exhibition – the CK 1600G-3, CK 2000G-3 and CK 2750G-3.
Crane rental company Bigge Crane and Rigging purchased several Kobelco CK2000G-3s.
Weston Settlemier, president and CEO at Bigge, says, “I intend to add twenty CK2000 crawlers to our fleet as soon as Kobelco can deliver the cranes. Kobelco crawlers are the most reliable cranes in our 300-crane crawler fleet.
This size crane is the perfect replacement for our older 14000 and HC 275 crawler cranes. The crane boasts a maximum lifting capacity of 200 tons (181 tonnes), a 10 % improvement compared to the CK2000-II and features an advanced control system that allows for precise load positioning.”
Three’s a charm
Liebherr showed three of its latest crawler cranes at ConExpo – the LR 1700-1.0, the LR 1400 SX, and the LR 1100.
Demand from the market for large crawler cranes is growing, Liebherr says, for example, in the petrochemicals industry and in port handling, involving enormous components for offshore applications.
Driven by the energy revolution, load weights are increasing all the time, particularly when handling components for offshore wind turbines. At the heavier end of the scale Liebherr is meeting this challenge with its new crawler crane – the LR 12500-1.0. With its 2,500 tonne lifting capacity and unique transport concept, it is designed as an economical crawler crane for global projects, the manufacturer says.
Battery powered options are also proving a success for Liebherr. Crane rental and rigging service, Sims Crane & Equipment in the USA added a Liebherr LR 1250.1 unplugged to its growing fleet. The battery-powered LR 1250.1 unplugged is the first model of Liebherr’s Unplugged series to be sold on the US East Coast. The crawler crane with alternative drive system offers the same performance as the conventional version, while putting off zero emissions.
New and improved
A series of updates has transformed Manitowoc’s Model 999 into the new MLC250.
Though key specifications largely remain unchanged, with the new MLC250 using the same load charts and #82 boom sections that provide a maximum boom length of 88.4 metres, there are some updates designed to make operators and service technicians work more efficiently, and in greater comfort, the company says.
One key change is the switch to open-loop hydraulics, versus the closed-loop system on the 999. Now, every main function (aside from swing) is powered by the same two main pumps, reducing parasitic load. With fewer pumps constantly requiring power, operators will see a more robust overall hydraulic performance, along with faster engine starting in cold weather.
It has a wider cab, with up to 20 degrees of tilt, and greater access to service compartments improve ergonomics for operators. The crawler track drive motor has also been relocated from the carbody to the tumbler to provide better performance.
USA-based crane manufacturer Link-Belt also offers updates with the fifth generation of its lattice crawler crane, the 110-ton (100 tonne) 218|V. Speaking to IC Link-Belt’s lattice crawler crane product manager Brian Elkins says, “Larger cranes often get more publicity for making eye-catching big lifts, but the daily, versatile workhorse in the industry is this size of machine.”
“Our 100 ton crane has been the largest share market wise for over 30 years.” Though many of the features of the 218 are already bulletproof in design and don’t need to be changed, “there are always things that can be tweaked,” adds Elkins. “The biggest change with the fifth version is it features a stage 5 engine.”
Power now comes from a Cummins QSB 6.7 Stage 5 engine which can also be run on HVO fuel, which Link-Belt says is fully mixable with regular diesel fuel.
Driven by both customer request and engineering developments, the crane has a new 304 mm touchscreen for its LMI and operating system which offers better visibility with improved sightlines. The ergonomic foot pedals are closer to the cab floor to offer better unobstructed views of ground level.
The new display features an operator interface with new counterweight sensing for live readout of stacked counterweight, live ground bearing pressure, swing angle indicator, list and trim indicator, engine speed monitoring and improved diagnostics.
Camera systems have also been improved and the operator is now assisted by on-board high-resolution winch-view, back-up, and non-cab side swing-view cameras with night vision to enhance jobsite visibility from within the cab.
A new optional lighting package also adds LED light on the cabside upper, below the upper and on the front cab for jobsite settings that require additional early morning or evening cover.
The sustainable design includes the eco winch system which allows for a lower operating cost and fewer emissions. There is also operator-selectable auto-engine shutdown which can be used when the crane is idle on site.
For a UK perspective, AGD Equipment sales manager Jon Phipps spoke with ICST about the crawlers the company have set to work, commenting on the continued supply chain issues affecting the market.
“The crawler crane sector will see a demand in requirements in coming months with HS2 continuing and large projects like Sizewell starting up,” he says. “The demand from these and other projects for equipment with the latest engines will increase the strain on the supply chain, those best placed will be the crane rental companies, like ourselves, who have already invested heavily in their fleet to upgrade and modernise. With manufacturers now quoting longer lead times than we have been used to in the past too, more forward planning is required to ensure demand can be met.”
“We supplied a 50 tonne capacity Sennebogen 653E telescopic crawler crane to the HS2 project for the Bromford Tunnel East Portal. The crane was required to remove props from underneath the capping beams and was chosen for its full power boom and virtual wall system, which allowed us to restrict the crane from booming up into the exclusion zone, while also restricting slewing movements in a prescribed area.”
Elsewhere in the UK, in Goole, Yorkshire, “A 70 tonne capacity Sennebogen 673 telescopic crawler crane was supplied to assist with the installation of pre-cast concrete sections for client GMI Construction,” Phipps adds. “These were installed to form the inspection pits at the new Siemens train factory. The lifts were taking place inside an already constructed steel framed building and therefore headroom was limited. The full power boom system on the crane allowed for the units to be unloaded from the trailer, carried a short distance and positioned into place by telescoping out, all whilst under load.”
Recently in London, AGD supplied a 25 tonne capacity Marchetti CW25.35 to Trident Lifting Solutions to assist with a restricted access job at Willesden Substation in Harlesden.
Phipps says, “This crane was selected as it can travel with its undercarriage retracted, at 2.5 metres in width, allowing the crane to track down a narrow passageway and around a very tight corner that small all terrain cranes were unable to navigate. Once in position the crane had the necessary lifting capacity to carry out the required installation of electrical components, as well as undertake pick and carry duties.”
Rubber tracked crawler carrier manufacturer Terramac has expanded its production capacity to deliver an increasing number of machines for the USA and international markets with the unveiling of its new assembly facility in St. Louis, Missouri.
This announcement follows right on the heels of Terramac opening its new HQ outside Chicago in Sugar Grove, Illinois. The assembly plant will start with two production lines, each with a production capacity of 250 crawler carriers per year with room for expansion.
As the demand for crawler cranes continues to rise, these new developments and updated features are proving the power of crawlers for a whole host of different job sites around the world.