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In a market enamoured with the illustrious all-terrain crane, some have predicted that the traditionally low tech truck crane market would eventually fade away. But that is not at all the case with this dependable, affordable and ever-versatile crane class.

While the market for truck cranes remains flat, Mark Phillippi, director of sales at Terex Cranes, said there are positive headwinds for the market, especially coming out of March’s ConExpo tradeshow. 

John Bair, product manager at Manitowoc Cranes, mirrored this sentiment. “Currently, we feel that the U.S. truck crane market remains strong,” said Bair. “During ConExpo, we talked with numerous dealers and customers who felt optimistic about the future of the truck crane market.”

He said customers were pleased to see and hear about the most recent addition to Grove’s truck crane product line, the TMS9000-2, which Bair said offers best-in-class load charts, 169 feet of main boom and is the lightest truck crane in its class.

“Truck cranes are still seen as an ideal solution for taxi crane jobs, moving quickly from job-to-job with quick on-site setup,” said Phillippi. “They provide a cost-effective solution compared to all terrains.”

Other truck crane attributes include simplicity of operation, ease of transportation and overall lower costs compared to all-terrain cranes. 

“In addition, they offer the advantages of higher travel speeds on the highway and are designed with a purpose-built chassis,” said Bair. “Truck cranes can travel from job-to job with ease, and they set up quickly with minimal rigging time once they reach the job site.”

Link-Belt’s Rick Curnutte, product manager for telescopic truck and all-terrain cranes, said he felt really good about what he heard at ConExpo.

“There was a lot of optimism that I didn’t hear three years ago at the last ConExpo,” said Curnutte. “We did hear a lot of positive outlook that we hadn’t heard in the past. Quite honesty I’m surprised it hasn’t started to pick up yet, with all of the highway bills in place. And infrastructure is so important in our country. Whatever your political views are, whether you like our president or not, he’s right about one thing. Our infrastructure is in really rough shape. That’s when we start talking about building bridges and stuff, that’s cranes.”

Integration and updates

In a sea of new product launches, new and improved truck cranes stole the show for many customers looking for the latest enhancements on their favorite machines.

In Las Vegas, Terex exhibited its new T 110 truck crane and received a plethora of positive feedback from customers. While the model is currently in the testing phase, the Terex’s team continues to look for market feedback before production begins. Offering the longest boom length in its class and available maximum tip height of 247.6 feet with jib, the T 110 offers a mobile solution for versatility in long reach applications, according to Phillippi.

With a base weight of 84,000 pounds (including an operator and full tank of fuel) or loaded weight of 93,000 pounds, (carrying 8,000 pounds of counterweight, jib and hook block), the T 110 is designed to travel and can quickly reach highway speeds of 65 mph, the company said. The T 110 is expected to start shipping early in 2018.

Manitowoc Cranes also unveiled a truck crane at the spring tradeshow, the new 115-ton capacity Grove TMS9000-2.

“Larger-class cranes provide outstanding flexibility to meet a range of lifting needs,” said Bair. “For instance, customers will often utilize a larger truck crane with minimal counterweight as a substitute for a lower-capacity-class crane if needed. By doing this, they can benefit from not having to take a fall-off load for counterweight, which saves money and time.”

But what exactly separates truck cranes from other popular cranes on the market?

“Truck cranes are built on a purpose built chassis designed to support the crane operation, from the ground up,” said Phillippi. “This provides customers with excellent lifting capabilities while maintaining compactness and rigidity to handle heavier loads. Truck cranes with a purpose built chassis allow integration of standard components, from the engine to the tires, which facilitates maintenance and helps with maintenance costs, comparable with commercial carriers.”

Hit the road

Truck cranes typically have a simpler drive train and suspension layout compared to all-terrain cranes, Phillippi explained. These units give up some off-road capability but the simpler design leads to reduced maintenance and operational costs over the life of the crane. 

Truck cranes are also designed for higher road speeds common in the United States. Terex truck cranes are designed to maintain highway speeds of 60 to 65 mph, minimizing travel time from job site to job site.

According to Manitowoc’s Bair, versatility is key, as truck cranes offer multiple counterweight splits to meet diverse roading regulations. In addition, saving weight throughout the design process is critical on a truck crane as it enables the customer to travel with additional counterweight, extensions, rigging and cribbing, which can save the customer money on additional trailer loads.

“Many models come with an assortment of boom extension options to satisfy a variety of application needs,” he said. “For example, while our new TMS9000-2 has a 169-foot main boom, we also offer a 34.5 to 57.6-foot swing-away boom extension, which is available in both manual and hydraulically off-settable versions. In addition, an optional 26-foot lattice insert can provide an impressive maximum tip height of 263.4 feet. We also offer either a manual or hydraulically off-settable, integrated 11.4-foot heavy-duty jib option that is great for tilt-up panel work or working in low-head height situations.”

The crane features a new 169.3-foot, six-section Megaform boom that utilizes Grove’s Twin-Lock pinning system. It’s a greaseless boom, and the improved reach will enable customers to complete a wider variety of applications with the crane, but from a compact chassis with a width of 8.5 feet and a length of 43.8 feet. The crane will offer manual or hydraulic swingaways, along with additional inserts, to provide further reach options, Manitowoc said.

Link-Belt has long been a strong player in the truck crane market and by many accounts leads the market in the truck crane class. Two recent models have become Link-Belt’s most popular cranes in its truck crane range.

“The HTC-86110, with its recent introduction, is the top seller hot topic right now,” said Curnutte. “The 86110 has a 110-ton capacity and has 164 feet of main boom, so it’s all about reach when we really talk about anything. A close second is our tried and true HTC-86100 which is 100-ton capacity and has 140 feet of boom, which is just right underneath it.”

What makes the 86100 desirable is it has the capability to transport with a little bit more counterweight than the 86110, Curnutte said.

“Reach, capacity and transportability are the key ingredients to your success,” Curnutte continued. “The 164-foot boom on the HTC-86110 weighs a little more than the 140-foot boom on the HTC-86100, so it moves with less counterweight. So what we’re doing is if you want something that transports a little better and you can live with that reach, the 100 is your machine. If you’re wanting something with a little more reach, the 110 is yours, but may not have as much capacity with counterweight.”

In a constantly growing, changing and competing marketplace, Curnutte put it best, “it’s easy to get to the top, but staying at the top is the real challenge.”

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