In a growing and advancing industry that is all about quick set-up, versatility and the ability to get the job done successfully, telescopic crawler cranes have become a dependable machine for dealers and buyers alike. As the popularity of this machine continues to grow, so does the advancement of features and the expansion into a variety of different industries. The chameleon of the crane industry, the telescopic crawler can adapt to all kinds of terrains, and to jobs large and small.

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Buckner Companies has found that the versatility and reliability of the Liebherr product, as well as ‘user friendly’ operation, make the LTR1100 and LTR1220 great investment selections. 

“The demand and acceptance of this technology is high at this point across multiple markets; renewables, electrical and civil infrastructure, as well as petrochemical and oil production markets,” said Doug Williams, CEO, Buckner Companies. “I believe these markets will continue to grow at a more moderate pace as customers become aware of certain uses, the telecrawlers offer versatility and safety beyond the typical AT and RT products. However, I am concerned that too many of these products in the marketplace could lead to a similar situation to what occurred over the years with RTs. The sheer numbers in the market made this crane become a low-priced commodity.”

Williams added that while originally seen in wind, transmission line and tank erection, telecrawlers are now present in all types of industries having any reasonable duration such as heavy industrial, electrical infrastructure and heavy civil infrastructure (bridges).

“The pick and carry abilities, onsite mobility, plus the removal of error due to improperly extended outriggers, make these an advantage on almost any project,” he said.

Purchasing tips

Northern Crane, based in Palmer, MA has seen an increased demand over the last two years, and there doesn’t seem to be enough cranes on the market to satisfy that demand.

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A Link-Belt TC 2500 is hard at work on a paving project in Las Vegas, NV.

“The market does not show any signs of slowing down,” said Alex Rahkonen, owner, Northern Crane. “We believe the demand for telecrawlers will only increase over the next few years. We believe in telecrawlers and continue to increase our fleet.”

“We find market share gravitating more towards telescopic crawler cranes every day,” said Uli Mack, general manager, Mardian Equipment. “Mardian Equipment purchased their first telescopic crawler in 2013 and now own a range from 75-ton to 250-ton in our current rental fleet. Our clients find that reduced jobsite labor costs, reduced mobilization costs and the overall safety of the product becomes a natural and successful win.”

As telescopic crawlers continue to grow in popularity and a variety of makes and models enter the market, it’s very important to be well-informed on the benefits of the crane type to add to a company’s fleet.

According to Buckner’s Williams, when shopping for telescopic crawlers, buyers should consider all the same things as other crane types: design, function, capacity, mobility, dependability and price. Additionally, a buyer must decide on the type of track pads. In many cases, conventional flat pads verses grouser pads or a compromise of grouser pad with bolt on smooth cover pads.

Rahkonen noted that ease of assembly and disassembly, out of level load charts, variable track widths and manufacturer/dealer support are factors that need to be considered when shopping for a telecrawler.

“Capacity of the crane and how the crane transports compared to the competition, product support during the life of the crane, maintenance and operating costs are what we feel are some of the top tier items,” said Mack.

Versatile and efficient

ACT spoke with end-users across the industry about why they chose to add telescopic crawlers to their fleets, and some of the benefits to this multi-faceted crane.

Empire Crane Company recently sold a 2017 Tadano Mantis GTC1200 to ACK Marine & General Contracting located in Quincy, MA. ACK Marina is often working on barges and many of its upcoming jobs are bridge or demolition work which requires cranes to be working in low clearance areas.

“The GTC1200 doesn’t require you to break down, the boom easily retracts and can get into tight areas,” said John McNulty, vice president and chief estimator, ACK Marine & General Contracting.

The GTC1200 is a 130-ton crane and has the strongest barge chart of all hydraulic boom crawler cranes. With the 2.5-degree barge load chart, it is a strong crane on land and on a barge.

ACK Marina does a lot of work for Mass Port which has very strict height restrictions near airports.

“This crane has the versatility so I don’t have to worry about exceeding height restrictions with the crane setup” McNulty said. He did his homework and was very impressed with the durability and capability of Tadano Mantis products. It’s first job will be a land based bridge job where two GTC1200’s will be working together.

In-demand machine

With notable changeability and speedy-set up times, Liebherr telescopic crawlers are also a popular choice for buyers.

“We purchased our first Liebherr LTR1220 due to its class-leading versatility,” said Rahkonen. “In the heavy construction and oil and gas industries the Liebherr is unmatched. The ability to pick and carry and work up to 4 degrees out of level is a huge advantage for us. It is also adds to the efficiency of jobsites by being able to move around with full counterweights, whereas rubber tire alternatives need to remove weights to re-position. Liebherr’s strong product support was also a factor. We have experienced very little down time due to their robust service network. It is nice to deal directly with the manufacturer when you have a question or issue.”

Rahkonen also added that the Liebherrs self-assemble in short order, and because of that, can have the crane hook ready on a jobsite in around four hours, which is particularly fast when you consider it moves on eight trailer loads.

“Another nice feature is the ability to work with the crawlers at a variety of different widths,” he said. “It is invaluable to be able to work with the crawlers fully retracted in a tight spot inside an industrial site. The ability to work out of level is also a great feature. You can make a pick in one spot, track over to another and be ready to go in no time. You don’t have to worry about putting down outriggers and leveling up the machine to zero degrees. You also have the ability to pick and carry parts to where they need to be set. In the past you may have needed to bring a trailer in to move parts around. All this helps the entire job site become more efficient not just the hook work.”

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The GTC1200 is a 130-ton crane and has the strongest barge chart of all hydraulic boom crawler cranes.

Buckner Companies also echoed a similar sentiment, as Liebherr telecrawlers dominate its fleet.

“While we own Mantis, Link-Belt and Liebherr telecrawlers, we own by far more of the Liebherrs,” said Williams. “This is in part a reflection of our preference for Liebherr exhibited in our overall fleet, but also a direct reflection of the design, mobility, capacity and versatility of the LTR models. The versatility and reliability of the Liebherr product, as well as ‘user friendly’ operation, make the LTR1100 and LTR1220 great investment selections.”

A natural fit

Grove has also taken advantage of this booming market with the creation of their GHC Series cranes which boast built-in job versatility, outstanding reach with 100 percent pick and carry capability and high-visibility tilt-cabs, the company said. Heavy duty, triple bar and maintenance free track shoes also deliver maneuverability over difficult terrain, equipped with Cummins Tier 3- or Tier-4 compliant engines.

“Strong pick and carry capabilities and low ground bearing pressures make the GHC cranes ideal for utility work, in-plant work, site work and many other applications,” said Dave O’Connell, president, Shawmut Equipment.

On display at ICUEE in October, the GHC30 is Manitowoc’s newest addition to its line of Grove telescoping crawler cranes. The 30-ton crane is the smallest member of the GHC range and offers the same 100 percent pick-and-carry function as the rest of the line. With its full-power, three-section 83-foot telescoping boom, operators can handle a variety of lifts at various radii without setting up on outriggers like traditional hydraulic boom cranes. This saves time on the job and provides a better return on investment for the customer, Manitowoc said.

“The GHC30 boasts excellent gradeability, low ground-bearing pressure and multiple attachment options, such as the pole claw, auger and personnel basket,” said John Bair, product manager for GHC cranes, Manitowoc. “All of these features - paired with class-leading boom length and capacities - make this a powerful and versatile crane that will improve efficiency on utility jobs and provide our customers with a great return on investment.”

Mardian Equipment takes pride in being a Link-Belt dealer as they value the quality products the company manufactures.

“The TCC-2500 is currently the strongest telescopic crawler which gives us a major competitive advantage,” said Mack. “Coupling that with Link-Belt’s innovative transportability makes this crane move quickly and easily on or off the jobsite, and a natural fit for our rental fleet.”

The TCC-2500 comes with a seven-section formed boom and a maximum tip height of 346 feet. Lightweight nylon head sheaves reduce machine weight and increase lift capacities, while the hammerhead boom nose allows operators to work at high boom angles.