World's tallest

15 April 2008

From 101 m, the compact size of the carrier is even more striking.

From 101 m, the compact size of the carrier is even more striking.

‘Stability’, ‘outrigger footprint’, and ‘boom rigidity’ strongly come to mind when you're rising 100 m in the air, torn between looking at the views and, for reassurance, at the steadily shrinking image of the truck below.

Those terms certainly are relevant to Maes Hoogwerkers’ new Bronto HLA 101 Skylift platform, built at 62 t GVW on a standard Mercedes Benz carrier and configured with fire fighting and rescue features. The Belgian access rental company proudly displayed its machine during an open event at Brussels’ main fire station on 18 November last year.

The red–and–white painted behemoth is a combination of engineering design and construction expertise, a product of Bronto's many years of experience in high–reach platforms. “We have built over 25 machines with working heights of 86 m or more,” Jan Denks, Bronto regional sales manager, told AI.

Reflecting that experience and critical to stability are the 101's three booms – a five section lower boom, three section second boom, and single–piece fly jib – which feature cross–section designs and high–strength steel construction for high rigidity and low–weight. Telescoping extensions of the first two booms move along adjustable guides to provide smooth and accurate motion.

Starting and stopping movements of the boom and its basket at 100 m with 400 kg of payload could be detrimental to stability, but smoothly controlling all those is the Finnish company's proprietary control system, called the ‘3T’. Bronto uses the same system on all the 200–odd machines it builds a year. “It is designed by us, for us,” said Mr Denks. “It's another thing we've been doing for many years”.

The 101 m model, the latest member of Bronto's HLA (High Level Articulated) series, incorporates a large number of safety features. These include: proportional valves, whose performance is unaffected by varying oil or ambient temperatures; back up power systems; interlocking boom, outrigger and vehicle controls; redundant boom movement limitation devices; end–of–motion slowdown control; and load–bearing boom cylinders with integral lock valves to prevent piston movement in the event of hydraulic circuit failure.

This first 101 Bronto was delivered to Maes last September and has already been on rent for wind turbine, telecommunications tower, and industrial plant maintenance work. These rental opportunities had not been confirmed before the machine was ordered. “You must take risks if you're going to succeed in business”, said Albert Maes, founder of Maes, speaking to AI in Brussels.

Being the first to put world–record machines to work is not new for the company. Mr Maes said the company bought the first 55 m and 65 m machines, both from Italy's OP Pagliero. “We're a small company, but we always have big machines”, he says.

Bronto has sold and built two additional units of the HLA 101. It has delivered another fire–fighting version to an undisclosed buyer in eastern Europe, and an industrial version will be at Bauma in Munich in April. AI 's readers can then, perhaps, rise to 100 m in the air, too.

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