Has the truck crane market been rejuvenated? A resounding “yes” appears to be the answer. ACT reports
Historically, truck cranes were the cash cow in the stable of crane fleets throughout North America. The ultimate taxi-crane, truck cranes launched many a business. With their ability to travel at highway speeds from job to job, this class of crane was a true American idol.
But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as the all-terrain crane became a player in North America, many thought the truck crane had seen its last heyday. But that's not the case. Many in the industry say that the market for truck cranes and truck-mounted cranes has been rejuvenated in the US, and perhaps, worldwide.
In Europe, where sales for truck cranes had been on the decline, developments by manufacturers point to a potential resurgence of interest. Examples include the launch by Terex of new truck crane models being built by PPM in France. Last year, Link-Belt displayed one of its truck cranes at Bauma in Germany and later at the UK SED exhibition. As well, Japanese manufacturer Kato re-established a European presence with Italian manufacturer Autogru Rigo. XCMG truck cranes from China are working in Europe and North America.
While the traditional truck crane is enjoying a resurgence in North America, an increasingly active sector of the market is truck-mounted cranes on a standard commercial chassis. In 2007 and 2008, Tadano, Liebherr and Manitex have introduced new truck-mounted cranes to the North American market, all with capacities in the 45 to 55-ton capacity range.
Houston-based CraneWorks specializes in serving the oil and gas market. Owner Keith Ayers says the market between the boom truck and truck crane has been blurred with the advent of the truck-mounted crane.
“In the 45 to 60 ton capacity range, it's not even blurred, these are truck cranes,” says Ayers. “The 50-ton Manitex will out-chart most truck cranes in this class. The Manitex 5096S offers better mobility, better comfort and a lower cost of carrier repair. You can get the trucks serviced in more places and you can get more horsepower.”
Ayers says in the oilfield, his truck-mounted cranes are lifting and setting 44,600 pound pump jacks with ease.
Industry observers predict other boom truck manufacturers are ready to compete in the 35 to 60-ton capacity truck mounted crane market. National, Terex and Elliott have introduced larger capacity models.
On the other end of the spectrum, Link- Belt recently introduced what it terms as the largest truck crane in North America. The 140-ton capacity HTC-3140LB hydraulic truck crane got a lot of looks at ConExpo, where it was shown for the first time. With the advent of a 140-ton capacity truck crane, customers asked if the envelope could be pushed: is a 180 or 200-ton capacity truck crane on the horizon?
Following is an overview of the latest truck cranes on the market in the North America.
Manitowoc introduced its newest 45-ton capacity Grove truck crane, the TM500E-2, in March at ConExpo. With two engines, the highway carrier features a Cummins ISC 300 hp diesel and a Cummins QSB 3.3L 110 hp off-road diesel engine that powers the superstructure. Both engines are certified to current EPA emission standards for the US market.
According to Ruben Olivas, global product manager for Grove's truck crane line, this two engine solution helps reduce fuel usage. “By using the superstructure engine to run crane operations, crane owners can reduce fuel consumption by gallons per hour,” says Olivas. “This allows customers to get more work from their cranes while reducing operating costs.”
The crane is equipped with a 29 foot to 95 foot four-section, full-power boom. A longer 32 foot to 102 foot four-section full-power boom is optional. Maximum tip heights are 102 feet and 110 feet. With the optional 45 foot offsettable telescopic swingaway extension, maximum tip height increases to 154 feet. The TM500E-2 replaces the TMS500E in Grove's truck crane line.
The crane's commercially sourced chassis was built to Grove's specifications, according to the company and features a spring front suspension and air rear suspension, and provides a comfortable ride at speeds up to 65 mph. The cab in the TM500E-2 features armrest-mounted electric dual-axis controllers. In addition, the operator can monitor all engine functions from the in-dash gauges.
Link-Belt's new 140-ton capacity HTC-3140LB hydraulic truck crane was designed as a simple, cost-effective heavy-lift crane that will bring new dimension to the market for this class of crane.
LB stands for long boom, according to the company. The crane's six-section boom is 195.3 feet with a maximum boom tip height of 204 feet. The machine has five boom modes for strong capacities and can telescope a load like a conventional full power boom. Teflon inserts in the wear pads, now a fixture in the Link-Belt lineup, eliminate boom grease.
What really makes this boom special, according to the company, which first showed the crane at ConExpo, are the optional fly attachments. A 10 foot heavy-lift fly has more than 20 tons of capacity and lift procedures for two load lines. The fly, integrated with the optional three-piece, bifold lattice fly and three 18 feet extensions, allows the boom to reach 311 feet. The crane also has a fly option that hydraulically offsets from 2 to 45 degrees. The crane features 60,000 pounds of optional counterweight.
The truck crane has a travel speed of around 65 miles per hour and was designed with a hydro-gas suspension system. The Caterpillar C15 engine in the lower has 550 hp and 1,850 foot-pound of torque. What is more, it is 2007 on-highway certified.
The truck features a 12-speed automated manual transmission and a 4-speed auxiliary transmission connected to the three rear axles. Full air anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard.
Moving the upper is a Tier III compliant Caterpillar C6.6 203-hp engine with 680 foot-pounds of torque. Designed to meet the toughest road laws in North America, the HTC-3140LB features a counterweight removal system where the individual counterweight pieces are designed not to exceed the single line pull of the winches. For more flexibility, the rear winch is hydraulically removable without a helper crane, according to the company.
The Microgaurd Rated Capacity Limiter has an audio/visual warning system integrated into the dash with anti-two block and function limiter. Available operating data includes boom length and angle, percent of allowed load, and optional third wrap indicator. Settable alarms for maximum tip height, maximum and minimum boom angles, and operator-defined area keep the operator informed. Special fine metering valve settings, selectable from the operator's cab, allow very slow movements of the main and auxiliary winches as well as boom hoist and swing for precision work. Maximum available line pull is 21,022 pounds and maximum line speed is 419 feet per minute.
The Manitex 50110S is the newest Manitowoc model, shown for the first time at ConExpo in March. Rated at 50 tons, the machine is equipped with a new 110 foot boom and has a tip height of 118 feet. Add the telescopic jib and the machine tip height increases to 164 feet. The 50110S is on the same platform as the 5096, which has a 96 foot boom and has a base rating of 50 tons at a 6 foot radius and meets road and federal bridge laws when configured with a tag axle in addition to a tandem driving axle.
Since introducing the 50 ton crane in mid 2007, Manitex has received scores of orders from a wide range of end users, including rental companies, taxi crane operators, oil and gas service operators, and service support providers in the mining industry, according to Randy Robertson, sales director.
The versatility of the crane has been demonstrated by its cross-over use into lifting markets traditionally supported by truck cranes mounted on custom carriers, Robertson says.
Capacity charts are available for full-span, mid-span and retracted outrigger configurations. Area of operation includes over rear, 360 degree and on rubber capacity. Standard features include a four-section 96 foot boom, cab and heater, free swing with pilot operated controls, ACCUSwing metering system, ROCSolid radio outrigger control, CANbus Load Moment Indicator with wireless ATB, 15,000# bare drum line pull rated winch with grooved drum and rope tensioner providing up to 10,000# single part line pull and aluminum decking
Liebherr has entered the North American truck crane market with the introduction of the LTF 1045, a 55-ton capacity crane mounted on a Kenworth chassis. The company showed the new truck mounted crane at ConExpo in Las Vegas. First announced at Bauma in Germany in April 2007, the new crane is Liebherr's first foray into the North American truck crane market, as the company has long been known globally for its European-styled all terrain cranes and crawler cranes.
For several years, Liebherr had a LTF truck crane line in Europe, although there had not been a large demand for these machines, according to the company. But over the past few years, demand for this type of machine has picked up in Europe as well as for North America.
The LTF 1045 was designed specifically to meet North American road standards. It is mounted on a Kenworth T 800 Twin Steer four-axle tractor. Additionally, the company will assemble the LTF models at its facility in Houston, TX.
Liebherr decided to take on the truck crane market in the US due to customer requests for such a machine, according to the company. The LTF 1045 has a 55-ton capacity and features a telescopic boom including the base and three telescopic sections. With a 31 foot jib and a 115 foot main boom, the crane has a total tip height of 157 feet. The jib is offsettable at 0, 20, 40 and 60 degrees. The machine has a rough terrain crane style cab and a superstructure engine, a 197 hp Liebherr diesel. It has swing out telescopic outriggers.
Liebherr's new LTF 1045, is a North American version of Liebherr's LTM design, with the difference being the Kenworth chassis
Tadano recently launched the prototype of its new 35 ton truck crane, which the company says was designed to meet the challenges of North America's most demanding jobsites.
The TM-35100 has a four section synchronized telescopic boom with a fully extended length of 100 feet. The two-stage jib, which is stowed on the base boom section, has a 50 foot reach. Winch single line speed is 140 meters per minute.
The new truck crane also offers continuous 360 degree full circle swing on a ball bearing turntable, according to the company. There are four hydraulic, three-section beam and jack outriggers. Each outrigger beam and jack is controlled independently from either side of the truck, while three extension lengths are provided with corresponding “rated lifting capacities for crane duty in a confined area.”
“With its strong boom and long radius capacities, we believe the TM-35100 is one of our most desirable cranes,” says Ron Dogotch, general manager of Tadano America.
The crane comes standard with air conditioned cab as well as comfort features found on larger cranes, the company says. Manufacturing of the crane is set to start in June, with delivery of the first machine due in August.