Buckner Companies, in North Carolina, USA is adding four new Liebherr LR 1600/2 lattice boom crawler cranes to its heavy lift crane division.
While the 400 US ton class of crane continues to be popular, demand is also growing for the 600 ton class. "With all the power work coming up - conventional, nuclear and wind - this size of crane is becoming more the norm," said Doug Williams, president of Buckner Companies.
The choice of the LR 1600/2 came on the back of great experience with Liebherr cranes, particularly the LR 1400/2.
"In our opinion, the LR 1400/2 has been by far the best crane of any manufacturer that we have ever owned," Williams said. "The LR 1600/2 has the perfect balance of capacity versus ease of transportation and assembly.
"Its versatility makes it another winner, just like the LR 1400. Our intention is that these four units are just the beginning. We anticipate adding more in due course.
"Our first units have already proven themselves on power projects using full components of derrick, ballast wagon and luffing jib."
Williams said these machines are the perfect crane for erecting the latest generation of taller and heavier wind turbines, "With other 600 ton cranes on the market, you generally have to fit a derrick mast to lifeet the larger wind turbines, but with the LR 1600/2 we can do windmills without a derrick and with far less ground bearing pressure."
Buckner has opted for the 2-meter wide crawler tracks rather than the industry standard of 1.5 meters. This increases the stability and hence capacity of the machine in many configurations, and also reduces ground bearing pressure.
The LR 1600/2 offers a maxim tip height of 192 meters (630 feet), which is reached with a 96 meter (315 feet) main boom and a 96 meter luffing jib, in conjunction with the derrick system.
Buckner has also opted for the hydraulically adjustable ballast trailer that can be adjusted - even under full load - from 13 meter radius, for a more compact footprint where space on site is an issue, to 18 meter radius, for even greater capacities.
Buckner's first unit was put straight to work in Loxahatchee, Florida, for Zachry Industrial to upgrade a Florida Power & Light gas turbine plant.
The crane began the project with 84 meters (276 feet) of main boom, with derrick and full ballast wagon (SDBW configuration) to set the 22 heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) modules weighing up to 217 tons (479,000 pounds).
The boom was then shortened to 60 meters (197 feet) to set the 353 ton (778,000 pounds) steam turbine generator and combustion turbines.
This crane is now at the Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where Beyel Bros. Inc. is setting the test cell for the new Ares I space rocket to be used in upcoming NASA missions.
The second unit is on site in Fulton, Arkansas, helping Babcock & Wilcox Construction build the new $1.3 billion, 600 MW John W Turk Jr. coal-fired power plant for American Electric Power (AEP). It is six months into a 24-month project.
In 10 years Buckner has developed what is now North America's largest fleet of Liebherr crawler cranes to enhance its position as a leading heavy lift specialist.
At the heart of its inventory of more than 80 crawler cranes are 13 units of the Liebherr LR 1400/2 crawler crane, rated at 400 metric tons (440 tons) capacity. Buckner also has Liebherr LR 1350 and LR 1750 crawlers, rated at 1,350 and 750 metric tons (1,488 and 830 tons) capacity, respectively.