Wolff hunts in Australia

11 August 2008



The first Wolff tower crane erected in Australia was recently shown to the local crane industry as a celebration of the formation of a partnership between Wolffkran and The Caelli Group. The Caelli Group is a formwork contractor and crane hirer that specializes in high rise construction. Established in 1972 and based in Melbourne, recent changes to the company’s structure mean expansion in two crane-related areas.

Caelli held an open day at its Craigieburn headquarters, where it launched the association with the Germany-based Wolffkran group. Caelli and Wolffkran have formed a partnership that introduces the entire Wolff range of tower cranes into Australia for the first time.

To celebrate the new partnership, Caelli erected a Wolff 355B model in its yard for existing and potential crane hirers and buyers to inspect in action. The crane was delivered in plain white livery, which, George Micevski, Caelli national plant operations manager, points out, is aimed at customers in the rental market in that it allows the client to place their own branding and company name on the cranes.

Caelli has already ordered five cranes from Wolff with deliveries expected from May to September 2008. The full range of Wolff cranes will be available through Caelli for purchase. Caelli is also offering consulting, training, erection, dismantling, maintenance and climbing services to its customers. Caelli operates 16 Australian manufactured diesel luffing tower cranes and six mobile cranes in its crane hire fleet.

Micevski said that the relationship with Wolff began at the Bauma 2007 exhibition in Germany where Caelli was looking to add to and upgrade its tower crane fleet. The single fall line pull of 14 tonnes, capacities at radius plus the high hook, slew and luffing speeds of the 355B, combined with availability were deciding factors in the choice of Wolff, Caelli said. Freestanding height – far superior to locally produced cranes – also provide significant cost savings to both hirers and crane owners, According to Caelli.

Representatives of the Caelli Group travelled to both London and Hong Kong to inspect Wolff tower cranes in action under site conditions. The members of Caelli’s rigging crew and electricians travelled to Wolff headquarters in Helibronn, Germany to see the cranes under manufacture and receive specific Wolff training.

At the open day IC was fortunate to spend some time in the modern cabin of the Wolff 355B with a Caelli operator, who had only driven Australian manufactured diesel luffing cranes in the past. He said that he found the crane very easy to get accustomed to and felt that it compared with the hydraulically controlled cranes in both responsiveness and speed. The ability of the crane to be back-slewed was also viewed favourably.

Micevski sees many benefits in the electric Wolff cranes. Immediate advantages are ease of servicing and lack of time lost to re-fuelling, combined with noise reduction. The new cranes will fit well with the already well-established rental fleet, which is offered as either wet or dry hire.

New crane clients, for example, construction companies and other crane hirers in Australia will benefit from the Caelli group establishment of a second office and depot in Southport, Queensland. The new yard is in the busy south east corner of the largest state on the eastern seaboard and close to the capital city, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast. This gives a large exposure to the entire east coast with delivery times of less than 12 hours to four out of the five major cities and 90% of regional centres in the country.

Also at the open day were Wolffkran representatives, including Dietrich Sell, director of international sales. Sell outlined many of the technical aspects of the Wolff fleet that new crane buyers and users will find attractive.


Computer controlled level luffing introduced in 1994 and precision in placing the hook were features that operators would notice immediately. The frequency controlled drive units with stepless speed control are a point, he believes, local operators, who are used to hydraulically controlled cranes, will appreciate. The automatic central greasing and an operator set zoning system are also geared towards ease of operation.

Transport and erection savings are achieved with triangular boom sections and the fast simple pinning system introduced on all Wolff cranes in 1963. A selling point is that it can be erected to 63 m freestanding height in one day. The option of an office package also allows crane owners to monitor crane performance and environmental conditions from a remote location. The CPU has full fault source error coding and can be programmed to ‘phone home’ error codes.

Sell commented on the market similarities between Europe and Australia, where environmental issues such as noise and possible oil and diesel spillage are becoming paramount in even the planning stages of crane selection. Even on sites where power may need to be sourced by generator as opposed to grid power, the power source can be located where the noise can be abated and fluid spillage can be controlled. There is also the advantage of the generator being able to provide the requirements for construction power, saving contractors dual plant hire charges.

The average age of tower cranes in Australia is approaching exchange. Compliance with national standards will see forward thinking existing crane owners looking for replacement models in the market for new generation machines. The association between Wolffkran and The Caelli Group introduces the Wolffkran complete service package into the Australian market..

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