Telescopic crawlers are go-to tool
03 September 2019
Known for their agility, quick setup and efficient pick-and-carry capabilities, telescopic crawlers get the job done on a variety of projects across North America.
Telescopic crawler cranes are a go-to tool in a number of industries, especially the power sector. Having served the needs of powerline contractors for nearly 40 years, Tom Scott knows a thing or two about providing the right equipment for tough jobs.
The Tadano Mantis line of teleboom crawler cranes is one of his go-to product offerings. Scott Powerline and Utility Equipment, headquartered in Monroe, LA, is one of the longest-serving Mantis crane dealers and has historically fielded a sizable fleet of these units that are rented all over the United States, and on occasion in Canada. The company’s current count is 45 telescopic crawler cranes, rated from 30 up to 120 tons.
Buckner HeavyLift has also found a burgeoning market for telescopic crawlers in another segment of the power industry, wind power. With 33 telecrawlers in its fleet, Buckner HeavyLift has the largest fleet of Liebherr telescopic crawler cranes in North America. The company owns 16 Liebherr LTR1100s, two Link Belt TCC1400s and 15 Liebherr LTR1220s.
Telescopic crawler cranes offer a variety of solutions for tough site conditions that rubber-tired mobile cranes cannot achieve, such as pick and carry, retractable footprint during site walking and the telescopic crawler’s ability to remain mobile in soft soil conditions and challenging grades, according to Buckner HeavyLift’s Kevin Long.
“Buckner began adding the telescopic crawler model lines to our fleet in 2011,” said Long. “Traditionally, and currently, Buckner remains committed to specializing in crawler cranes only. However, upon request of our client base to provide additional support cranes for our larger lattice boom fleet, we found that the potential for growth, and the pick and carry on crawlers aspect of the telescopic crawlers, was a natural fit to our future services.”
Scott Powerline rents and sells telecrawlers to a bevy of utility and bridge contractors.
“Two of our larger rigs were recently deployed for work along the Arkansas River near Tichnor, AR,” said Scott Powerline’s Jeff Johnson. “A section of the riverbank had washed out, taking a powerline structure with it. The task was to extract the fallen structure from the river and replace it with a new structure placed in a more suitable location.”
The job fell to Gonzales, LA-based Auger Services, a company focused on foundation drilling services.
“This was a specialized project,” said General Superintendent Terry Ramey, “requiring a specialized crew and the very best equipment.”
Having years of experience with the telecrawler product and owning 12 of their own units, Ramey knew a Mantis crane was critical to job success. Auger Services contacted Scott Powerline and secured a 100-ton rated Tadano Mantis 20010, as well as the newer 120-ton GTC-1200, both with WP-750 personnel platforms.
“Scott Powerline had what we needed, when we needed it and delivered it as promised,” said Auger Services Vice President Bryan Beck. “This project allowed these cranes to showcase the strength and versatility of the Tadano Mantis product line – driving caissons, lift capacity, man basket work, mobility and pick and carry capability.”
The Mantis crane was the perfect machine for the job, Ramey added.
Buckner’s Long said that telecrawlers are highly versatile machines on wind projects.
“They assist with main erection crane assembly/disassembly, turbine component offloading and tailing,” Long said.
Some of Buckner’s customers have used telecrawlers to erect base tower sections and for building rotors at wind farms.
“It is also becoming common for wind turbine drivetrains to be shipped separately from the nacelle, and our telecrawlers are commonly used to install the drivetrain, hub or perform other sub-assembly prep work,” said Buckner’s Dan Ives. “They have great lifting capacity for their class. For example, a 110-ton telecrawler can execute lifts at a similar radius to a 130-ton rough terrain crane. Because there are no outriggers to get in the way, telecrawlers can actually utilize the high capacity that cranes have at a shorter radius. Many rubber tired cranes on outriggers have clearance issues when lifting at a 20 feet radius or less.”
Buckner HeavyLift used its Liebherr LTR 1100 as a support crane at the Diamond Vista Wind Project near Marion, KS.
Long said that many of Buckner’s telecrawlers accompany its lattice crawlers because of the flexibility supporting the larger-scale crawler’s assembly and disassembly.
Buckner used its LTR 1220 to set the base sections of wind towers at the Red Dirt Wind Project near Hennessey, OK. The company used its LTR 1100 as a support crane at the Diamond Vista Wind Project near Marion, KS. Buckner’s LTR 1220 also recently assisted at the Peyton Creek Wind Project near Bay City, TX.
Another success story
Link-Belt is another success story in the telecrawler market. The company started producing telescopic crawlers in 2006, and Link-Belt customers have fully embraced these machines and their capabilities.
In less than six months Brady Crane Service of Healdton, OK has logged more than 560 hours on its new 120-ton Link-Belt TCC-1200 telescopic crawler. Brady Crane Service also has more than 2,000 hours on its 110-ton TCC-1100. The company’s workload is mostly in the oil and gas sector, unloading and assembling drill rigs.
“We use three cranes,” said Robin Watts. “We use two to tear the rig apart from the old site and put a third at the new site to begin assembly of the new rig. Once we get to a certain point, we’ll switch and put two at the new site to build up substructures for the new site.”
Brady is erecting a 2500 hp triple box, hauled 120 miles from the previous site to Lindsay, OK. The top of the drill rig are the first pieces hauled to a new site, and placed at the perimeter of the 5-acre site. Brady Crane Service uses the TCC-1200 to load and unload trucks, and pick and carry everything from the derrick to the doghouse, substructure, top of the substructure, to the draw works.
“We use the TCC-1200 for every single component of the drilling rig from 500 to 100,000 pounds in a tandem lift,” said Watts.
Substructures are a tandem lift. A larger (in tonnage capacity) all-terrain crane is brought in and stays on one end with the load while the TCC-1200 lifts and walks the substructure from its drop off point on site. The TCC-1200 picks and carries the load, while travelling around the center point of the rig.
“We can mobilize the 1100 and 1200 quickly since no outriggers are involved. You can pick and carry with your full range of chart. Whatever we tie up to, if it is within our chart, we know we can move it as long as it is level,” said Watts.
The heaviest single load for the TCC-1200 is the blow-out preventer, weighing 72,000 pounds, but Watts estimates that on occasion up to 5,000 pounds of mud can build up during operation.
“Having a crane capable of handling that extra weight is important,” said Watts.
Dicey ground conditions
The North Metro Rail Line in Denver, CO is an 18.5-mile electric commuter rail system that connects Denver’s Union Station with many of the city’s northern suburbs. A notable portion of the project is the Skyway Bridge, a 1.8-mile elevated light rail bridge, the longest of its kind in Colorado. One of the most challenging parts of the bridge’s construction was a stretch that runs in between the properties of an oil refinery and a large wastewater treatment plant.
Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction (RLW) was the contractor tasked with building the Skyway Bridge. The company rented a Grove GHC75 for the project. RLW’s Lee Adams said that the maneuverability of the GHC75, along with its compact footprint, were crucial in completing construction. Adjacent (pre-existing) railroad tracks and a water-filled canal constrained space at one point on the jobsite, and on another, a retaining wall and fence flanked the skyway’s path.
“There was a very narrow alleyway to work with in between the two properties,” Adams explained. “It was a tight space that offered a little more than the width of the train tracks themselves. There wouldn’t have been room for a standard, outrigger-equipped hydraulic crane. The GHC75 gave us the capacity we needed in a frame that was small and agile enough to traverse the narrow jobsite.”
The 118-foot, 1-inch telescoping boom of the GHC75, which enables it to pick-and-carry at 100 percent of its load chart and to swing loads a full 360 degrees, also came in handy on the project, Adams continued.
“First we had to drive the crane over a railroad crossing and down beneath power lines to get it in position for the lifts,” Adams said. “Then we needed to pick up a load, boom down and navigate beneath the power lines without a hitch to place the load. This really was the perfect crane for this situation.”
The GHC75 lifted 9-ton concrete gang forms to a height of 40 feet, which enabled workers to bolt the forms together in an interlocking formation to construct the elevated bridge. The crane also hoisted 16-ton rebar cages to heights of 72 feet and released concrete on top of pier caps using a bucket system.
“This crane was perfect for the job since we didn’t have to worry about the outriggers you find on a traditional hydraulic crane,” he said. “If you have to move a regular hydraulic crane, you have to suck the boom in, break down the outriggers, move the pads and start all over with the next lift. The GHC75’s heavy duty crawler treads enabled us to simply move into place and get to work, saving almost 20 minutes per lift.