Crawler Cranes: Now Even More Advanced

Manitowoc MLC650 with VPC MAX

Crawler cranes manufacturers have been carrying out a string of improvements in their products to enhance productivity, reliability and lifting capabilities, especially in the mid and higher class of equipment. Manufacturers are also offering attractive business propositions and product support. P.P. Basistha reports.

The demand for crawler cranes is showing signs of stability thanks to a buoyant wind power and infrastructure market in India. Demand has been firming up in the industrial, hydrocarbon and construction sectors, and in cement plant maintenance and greenfield nuclear power projects. Stadium construction and urban redevelopment around Tokyo, as the city gets ready for the 2020 Olympic Games, and the energy projects in the Gulf region, are also escalating demand.

To cater to diverse applications, crawler cranes should have a higher lifting capacity, longer working radius, and a small working footprint, besides pick and carry capabilities, when required. The cranes should be easy to transport, assemble and disassemble, and have a compact footprint. Based on these requirements, manufacturers are enhancing the features of their cranes, with a focus on component size and weight of the transport modules for ease of transport.

Liebherr
Liebherr showed its new LR 1500, 500-ton crawler crane at Conexpo US with Liebherr patented, new Liebherr Computerized Control Systems (LICCON-2).
For CONEXPO 2017, Manitowoc again showed its MLC650 crawler crane, although this time it was displayed with the capacity-enhancing VPC-MAX attachment – the first time it has been displayed at a trade show fitted with this feature. The crane includes Manitowoc’s unique Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) technology. The VPC system automatically positions the crane’s counterweight to fit the required lift. The counterweight is moved along the rotating bed based on changes in boom angle and lifted load.

Advantages for customers include reduced ground preparation, lower ground-bearing pressure and less counterweight, without sacrificing capacity. Customers will not have to buy, transport or install as much counterweight compared with a traditional configuration.

The VPC-MAX attachment for the MLC650 raises the crane’s capacity to 700 t (770 USt), an increase of 50 t (55 USt) over its standard configuration.

David Semple
Speaking to ‘Lifting and Specialized Transport’ during Conexpo Mr. David Semple, Senior Vice President, Mobile and Crawler Cranes, Middle East & Asia Pacific, Manitowoc Cranes, said, “With the VPC-MAX attachment in place, the crane operator is able to raise 104 m of main boom plus 101 m of luffing jib for a total combination of 205 m of reach. The crane is highly versatile and well-suited to wind power projects where it is able to move more easily than equivalent cranes which have counterweight trays and other bulky accessories.”

“The capacity of the MLC 650 matches that of cranes from other manufacturers, but since it has considerably less counterweight, fewer trucks are required for transporting the crane, which cuts down operational costs. Furthermore, with VPC, the counterweight does not touch the ground, so it saves a lot of time and resources in terms of surface preparation.”

Alongside the MLC650 Manitowoc also showed a new version of the Manitowoc MLC300 that utilizes a fixed-position counterweight. This new model has many of the same features as the original MLC300, but does not feature the Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) technology. This new version of the MLC300 will appeal to customers that want the 300 t (330 USt) capacity and compact footprint of the original, but without the additional investment in features and moving parts that come with VPC. For this configuration, the MLC300 VPC trolley and tray have been replaced by a two-position, stationary counterweight tray.

Deepak Garg
Sany India has bagged fresh orders for eight units of 650T Crawler Crane model, SCC 6500A from rental companies involved in wind turbine erection jobs. The cranes will be delivered in 2017. SCC 6500A is capable of erecting windmills with hub heights of 90 to 120 meters, and is scalable to work at higher hub heights of 140 meters with 144 meters boom and 12 meters fixed jib.

Mr. Deepak Garg, CEO, Sany Heavy Industry Pvt. Ltd. said, “We are making the buying proposition attractive for our SCC 600 WE, 600-ton and SCC 6500 A, 650-ton crawler cranes to the rental companies through a combined package sales of our STC range of truck cranes of 60-100 tons and 150-220 all-terrain cranes in India. The new all-terrain cranes and truck cranes will make operations more productive for the heavier crawler units, enabling the rental companies to gain higher margins in wind power jobs.”

Fine-tuned advancements

90m Tower Tower Erection
Liebherr showed its new LR 1500, 500-ton crawler crane at Conexpo US. Speaking to Lifting & Specialized Transport, Mr. Klaus Huberie, General Manager, Crawler Cranes, Liebherr-Werk, said, “This crane will succeed LR 1400/2 crawler crane. It comes with the Liebherr patented Liebherr Computerized Control Systems (LICCON-2). A colored digital monitor ensures advanced load calculation, thus minimizing danger during operation while ensuring appropriate lifting capacity at a working radius based on the exact lifting requirements. It also has a higher lifting capacity due to its boom design. Additional competitive features of the crane are its strong winches, mountable cabs for better visibility, lesser footprint due to its compactness especially when working at crammed refinery or general construction sites, and ease of transportation due to its compact features.”

A K Somani
Liebherr India has been promoting its LR 1600/2 crawler cranes to the wind power and heavy lift market. “The crane is best suited for wind power jobs, besides other tasks as well, due to its wide range of boom systems. Reinforced boom configurations with H-kit enable it to achieve, higher load capacities. Extended boom systems can be used to erect wind turbines efficiently. The variable derrick systems are available for the LR 1600/2. The derrick ballast weighing up to 350 tons can be adjusted when fully loaded, up to a radius of 18meters, either using the suspended counter weight tray or without the guidance of the ballast wagon. Our LR 1600/2-W narrow track crawler crane is particularly efficient for use in wind farms since it can travel over narrow paths when fully equipped since the overall width of the crawler chassis is just 5.8 meters,” informed Mr. A.K. Somani, Director, Liebherr India.

Admitting that there is a price war in the heavier capacity crawler cranes market in the country, which is making business more challenging, Mr. Somani said that they would, however, refrain from entering into any price war with their competitors. “We will maintain our focus on marketing our products in the niche market represented by rental agencies as well as to end-users. This segment of buyers are looking for long-term capital investments, higher ROIs, and eventually total lifecycle costs and high resale value. With this strategy we will ensure sustained growth of our business.”

Liebherr India will start shortly offering simulation training modules at its Kolkata office to enable operators to get a hands-on experience. Mr. Somani informs that they have been getting fresh enquiries for their 600-ton plus class crawler lattice boom cranes.

Tata Hitachi
Tata Hitachi will be discontinuing its Tata Friction Cranes (TFC) 280, 75, 45-ton duty cycle, mechanical cranes (picture below) with new Tata Hitachi 80-100-ton hydraulic crawler cranes.
Link Belt will be promoting its range of new Hylab range of 228 HSL, 118-ton crawler cranes that were exhibited in Conexpo US 2017. The company has made improvements to enhance ease of transportation and attachment versatility. As with other Hylab models, the 228 HSL offers two styles of booms: tubular boom of 72 meters length and angle boom of 47 meters length. The fixed jib from 218 HSL can be used in the crane. On a transport trailer, the 228 HSL has a retractable track with width of 11 feet and 11 inches. Its nine pieces modular counterweight systems are designed for ease of movement in four or five loads with full counterweight. Link Belt also showed its 298 Series 2 crawler crane, which, according to the company, is built on the success of its 298 HSL predecessor.

Tata Hitachi will be discontinuing its Tata Friction Cranes (TFC) 280, 75, 45-ton duty cycle, mechanical cranes shortly. Informs Mr. A. Krishnakumar, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Company Pvt. Ltd., “We will now roll out our new Tata Hitachi 80-100-ton crawler cranes in more advanced platforms. They will feature heavy-duty winches, drum rotating sensors, and interactive display systems that will provide on-time details on the operation of the crane, such as running hours, in the cabin.”

The new, more advanced Hitachi Sumitomo crane will be commercially launched by the end of 2017. It has been designed for enhanced performance and efficient execution of projects. Though it has a strong brand recall (around 60 units are working in India), the challenge for the company is to make it cost competitive, and also to render the necessary product support and training to ensure reliable operation of the crane.

Lifting & Specialized Transport - April 2017

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