What is the demand for telescopic crawlers in North America?
By Hannah Sundermeyer08 September 2022
Telescopic crawler models are getting bigger and better, while serving as a fleet necessity.
In speaking with Brian Peretin, general manager sales, mobile and crawler cranes at Liebherr, he mentioned an interesting concept he coined the “crane continuum.” On one end of the spectrum, operators utilize machines as simple as a knuckleboom unloading cargo from a truck. Meanwhile, on the opposite end, there is a team of specialized engineers picking up a fragile load that requires intensive planning and the latest high-capacity crawler. And then somewhere in the middle, lies the telescopic crawler. An industry workhorse, the telecrawler is a reliable, yet flexible crane seeing an increase in demand due to its versatility on the jobsite.
Over the past several years, telecrawlers have been growing from a primarily niche market into a widely accepted staple in fleets across North America.
“Telecrawlers can simply perform work that rough terrains and lattice crawlers can’t fulfill,” said James Land, teleboom crawler sales director at Tadano America. “Owning a telecrawler gives you the best of both worlds and a host of other advantages such as pick and carry capability, reduced setup and transport time and out-of-level capabilities that rough terrains and lattice crawlers simply aren’t capable of.”
Grove’s newest telecrawler model, the GHC85, launched in the spring of 2022 and was a mid-range addition to the company’s portfolio.
“The versatile crane is ideal for use in utility applications, general construction work, bridgework, pile driving and as an assist crane for assembling other cranes,” said JJ Grace. “Frame-mounted jacks and counterweight lifting cylinders enable the crane to self-assemble, which can be controlled via a wireless remote. It can be transported to the jobsite in just three loads, or four loads when its crawlers are carried separately.”
In addition, without the need for outriggers, the GHC85 can quickly move from one static pick to the next. Its ability to maintain 100 percent pick-and-carry capabilities on inclines up to 4 degrees makes it suitable for repetitive utility work, such as setting poles, moving solar panels or setting up larger cranes.
What used to be a primarily powerline construction dominant market has now grown to wind power, bridge building, steel erection and foundation markets.
“The main word for the crawler market is steady,” said Kelly Fiechter, product manager at Link-Belt Cranes. “That’s just kind of the name of the game with those cranes.”
Peretin also weighed in, reflecting on the fact that the telecrawler market can be difficult to forecast, but nonetheless is seeing growth.
“We either have them sitting around and we’re tripping over them, or we can’t get them for a while,” he said. “It’s a weird kind of cyclicality that is very hard to predict. It is a very project dominated market, So, if a big project comes along and they require something like this, they get gobbled up. It’s the nature of these machines, and they get more popular every year that the market grows.”
The future of telecrawlers is bigger and better
When looking ahead to the future of telecrawler design, capacities are only getting bigger. Demand is high for the 200-ton and above capacity range.
The GTC-1600 and GTC-2000 are latest models to hit the market with their first deliveries in 2022.
These models offer significantly higher capacities and longer booms than any of our previous products.
The GTC-2000 offers a 172-ton maximum crane capacity and a main boom length of 196.9 feet. The Tadano GTC-2000 also has a track width that can be adjusted as necessary in both symmetrical and asymmetrical configurations so that it can be used for applications in which space is at a premium, such as bridge construction projects, the company said.
Tadano plans to exhibit the GTC-2000 telescopic boom crawler crane at bauma 2022 in October.
“The 200 to 250-ton market has grown tremendously and it’s anyone’s guess as to how large the capacities will get,” said Land. “It is feasible to see larger and larger machines start replacing lattice crawlers in certain applications simply for the ease of assembly and transport as well as on site flexibility and maneuverability.”
Also driving demand are the attributes telecrawlers bring to jobsites. Link-Belt’s Fiechter said that his company sees end-users looking to the features of telecrawlers for more complex jobs.
The TCC-550 is the newest telescopic crawler from Link-Belt Cranes. Unveiled at the company’s Cranefest event in 2021, it is primarily a general lift crane and used for foundation support work.
In addition, the TCC 800 is popular as a rental crane. Kelly Fiechter attributed this to TCC-800’s ease of operation and transportability. The TCC-800 assembles itself with 38,500 pounds of upper counterweight and two 3,000-pound sections of carbody counterweight. The TCC-800 also moves in two loads with the main unit transporting at under 100,000 pounds with fly, side frames attached, hook block and ball, lifting sheave and full tank of fuel.
“If it were a typical job and you could use a rough terrain crane, or a conventional lattice crawler crane, you would,” he said. “So, if you’re looking at a telescopic crawler crane, there’s a problem to be solved.”
Tadano is always looking to improve its telecrawler capabilities in its current capacity ranges, as well as to expand.
“Features such as asymmetric charts and pinning booms have really expanded the performance compared to where we were 10 years ago,” added Land. “It is exciting to imagine what the machines will be capable of in another ten years. Larger capacities and even longer booms seem to be the direction the future is headed in.”
Grove offers a GHC telecrawler series for customers that need a compact, maneuverable crane capable of navigating treacherous terrain,” said JJ Grace, Grove’s product manager for GHC cranes.
The LTR 1040 is the newest telescopic crawler in the Liebherr line. Brian Peretin attributed it as the more affordable, lightweight version of the LTR 1060. The main difference to the LTR 1060 is the significantly reduced ballast – the LTR 1040 weighs in at a total of 20 tonnes less.
With a 98-foot boom, this telecrawler thrives when installing components, one of the main areas of work for telescopic crawler cranes.
“With minimal transport requirements, 100 percent pick-and-carry ability, and a telescoping boom, these cranes have proven very nimble in both getting to and navigating jobsites. Typical applications include utility work or lifting work on infrastructure projects. Users really like how our GHC cranes combine the advantages of a fast telescopic boom that would typically feature on a mobile crane, with the stability of a crawler crane and the ability to cover rough ground.”
There is an expected surge of telescopic crawlers on wind farms.
“Telescopic crawler cranes are relied upon to do a lot of different kinds of lift work on wind farm sites, from foundational, to pick and carry, to assembly of the larger lattice cranes that actually set the rotors and nacelles,” said Fiechter. “For wind work we see mainly our 120-ton TCC-1200, up to our 250-ton TCC-2500 (including our 140-ton, TCC-1400) utilized on those type of jobs.”