The gorgeous little town of Zweibrücken is on the scenic Schwarzbach River in southwestern Germany. As a tourist, you will want to visit the famous Europas Rosengarten (rose garden), stroll the charming streets of the city center and shop at the huge outlet mall on the outskirts of town. But if you are a crane person, you will quickly notice crane booms on the horizon in three directions. And at that point you will be hooked and want to know the scoop. That’s what brought me to Germany.
Zweibrücken is home to Terex Cranes, which produces Demag all terrain cranes and crawler cranes for customers around the world. Demag Cranes have long been known for their prestige, engineering, solid performance and their strong German heritage. Terex is now banking on this reputation to help with the introduction of a new line of global crawler cranes that will fit in between the Terex HC line produced in the United States and the CC line produced in Germany, American Cranes & Transport has learned exclusively.
The first crane in this new line will be called the LC 330US in North America (LC 300 for global markets). Demag has already produced three prototypes of the 330 ton (300 metric ton) capacity crawler, one that I saw in late August performing lift testing at the Demag Bierbach testing yard. One model of this crane will be shown at ConExpo in Las Vegas in March 2017. The first units are targeted to the North American market, where demand for this class of crawler crane is solid.
“The engineering of the LC 330US/LC 300 is based on the proven CC Demag crane design,” said Guntram Jakobs, Terex Cranes’ product marketing manager for crawlers. “We listened to our customers and incorporated the features they need in a crane in this class. They were heavily involved and provided valuable suggestions and feedback.”
The engineering team focused on six design elements in the crane’s design: efficient transport, ease of setup, efficient counterweight, operator comfort, efficient operating costs and state-of-the-art operator aids, Jakobs said. The crane will carry a two-year warranty as standard.
The LC 330US has three boom packages: 79 to 276 feet (24 to 84 meters) of main boom in the SH configuration; a 39 to 98.5 foot (12 to 30 m) fixed jib in the SH plus LF configuration; and a 79 to 236 foot (24 to 72 m) luffing jib in SW configuration.
Beyond the attributes of the crane, its evolution has many remarkable elements. The LC line of crawlers will actually be produced in Jinan, China.
Terex began its involvement in the Jinan facility in 2010. Back then Terex had a 65 percent investment in the venture that produced Terex Topower cranes for the then booming Chinese market. When China’s economy slowed Terex had the idea to re-invest in the plant.
“To make the Jinan facility successful, Terex would need to change the equity structure,” said Vincent Stenger, senior manager of the Jinan Integration Project. “In 2014 Terex became a 98 percent share owner and gained full control of the operations. The goal was to provide a great deal of investment into the plant. We would bring Terex Jinan up to the standards of Terex manufacturing, which would involve a significant investment in new equipment, processes and training.”
Stenger is leading new product projects and contributing to the integration of Terex standards. He is very pleased with the results. “We are able to produce cranes following the same manufacturing and quality procedures as the Demag models we produce in Germany,” he said.
Plans are in place for the plant to produce the LC 330US as well as 275, 220 and 165 ton capacity crawlers.
The Terex Cranes team relied heavily on customer input to design and produce the LC 330US.
“It was a strategic process,” said Klaus Meissner, director of product strategy. “We are producing a crane that we believe will be very well received in the North American market. We’ve assessed the competitive machines in this class, and we are bringing a world-class crane to the market.”
Much thought was put into the transportation and set up of the LC 330US, which can be hauled in 16 truckloads, (depending on the configuration and state road regulations) with maximum main boom, maximum counterweight and runner, Jakobs said. The crane features a slide-in system for boom sections to maximize the use of truck payload, and the base crane can be transported on a standard low-bed or step-deck trailer.
The main car body weighs 98,770 pounds (44.8 tonnes) and is 10 feet 4.5 inches (3.16 m) tall. On a typical US trailer the loaded height would not exceed 13 feet, 9 inches (4.19 m), Jakobs said. New to the US market are stacking blocks on top of the boom section that allow the user to stack the boom sections when space is limited or when the boom sections don’t arrive in the designated order.
In terms of setup, the crane was designed with self-erecting outriggers that allow for easy loading and unloading and assembly of the crawlers. Jakobs said one of the Demag features the customer team was most excited about is the free in-the-air assembly of the main boom of up to 177 feet (54 m).
The counterweight system is one that is tried and true to the Demag brand featuring unified counterweight plates. The counterweight slabs are standard and feature a center borehole to install and lock. There is no central ballast and there’s a long counterweight tray with two stacks per side rather than one stack. The reduced stack height requires less climbing, a low center of gravity and the person who attaches or removes the slings from the counterweight can easily step on the other stack instead of having to go up and down. Three counterweight positions corresponds to the different boom configurations.
The huge cab is extra wide and has a locker with an upholstered seating surface. The front window opens from the bottom (push up window) and a heater and air-conditioning are standard. The crane is equipped with Terex’s award-winning fall protection system as standard on the whole boom.
John Seckinger, vice president of Dozier Worldwide Cranes, based in Savannah, Georgia, USA, spent a couple of days in Zweibrücken checking out this new crane. He will be one of the first buyers of this new machine, which he said fits perfectly “in the mix.”
“We think this crane fits into the market very well,” said Seckinger. “We’ve always liked Demag crawlers and we think this one will be perfect for our fleet. It fills a niche for Terex and it fills a niche in our crane fleet.”
Seckinger was impressed with the crane’s robust design and he also liked the transportability features. “We see it as an erection crane that would do well at concrete and steel erection and also tilt-up work,” he said. “This crane transports really well too. In our business, we go from job to job every other month. Making a crane easy to transport and to set up is really helpful to us.”
Seckinger is not concerned that the crane is produced in China.
“Maybe there was a concern but, after meeting with the German team and learning how they set up that factory and how involved they are in every step, I don’t have any concerns about quality. This will be a Demag engineered, designed and produced crane,” he said. “When you see the heavy structure you know it’s a very well built crane. This was a well-thought out crane. Looking at it, you know it’s Demag engineered.”
The wide cab and user-friendly components were another big draw.
“I loved the big, wide cab,” said Seckinger. “I was looking for the picnic table [it was so big]. But really, the cab is great and with the two screens and the crane control system, it will be a very user friendly crane.”
Dozier Crane also has facilities in Pensacola, Florida and Jackson, Mississippi. The company was started in 1984 and today Dozier Crane is one of the top 10 crawler crane companies in the United States, Seckinger said.
“One thing that was very important to us was that the German engineering team was very receptive to our ideas and they really listened to us,” he said. “They were listening to us and a lot of manufacturers don’t listen. They gave us a lot of a respect and they respected our experience in the market and with cranes. They wanted to produce a quality crane and we believe they have done that.”