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A mega crane for a mega project

Construction giant Strabag has deployed Potain’s largest ever topless crane, the MDT 809, on one of the world’s biggest projects for cutting-edge international scientific research, the FAIR particle accelerator facility in Darmstadt, Germany.

Just outside Frankfurt, the German subsidiary of Austrian contractor Strabag is contributing to the construction of the € 3.1 billion ($ 3.7 billion) Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR), which will bring together 3,000 scientists from 50 countries to investigate the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to today.

At the heart of the 20 Ha (49 ac) site will be a superconducting circular accelerator located in a 1,100 m (3,600 ft) long tunnel 17 m (55 ft) underground to recreate states of matter that otherwise only exist in the universe (such as stellar explosions or inside the core of planets). This machine will be surrounded by 25 buildings and other operational and supply structures.

Construction is planned for completion in 2027 and will require 600,000 m³ (21 million ft³) of concrete (as much as eight Frankfurt soccer stadiums) and 65,000 t of steel (71,650 USt) – as much as for nine Eiffel Towers. To handle a project of this scale, Strabag knew there was only one crane capable of leading the way: a Potain MDT 809. In March 2021, the tower crane was brought onto the job, leading the heavy lifting work alongside a Potain MDT 259 and a series of other cranes.

Love at first sight

With a capacity of up to 40 t (44 USt) and 80 m (262 ft) of jib, the Potain MDT 809 is the largest topless crane ever built by Manitowoc. Strabag’s tower crane expert Thomas Kühner was impressed by the colossal Potain crane during its launch at Bauma 2019 and had been hoping for a reason to buy one ever since.

“When I first saw the Potain MDT 809 at Bauma 2019, I could tell immediately that this crane concept was a good one. For me, it was the only real innovation at the fair,” he said. “One year after Bauma, the FAIR project came through, which required us to be able to lift 5 t and reach the whole construction site. Out of the cranes available, the Potain MDT 809 was best option for ease and speed of transport, erection and dismantling.”

“The main advantage was that the jib is only 1.4 m (4.5 ft) wide and 2.5 m (8 ft) high, which leads to compact transport with fewer containers and trucks. In fact, it has the same transport and erection requirements for a 450 mt crane of standard size. This is best in class for an

800 mt topless crane,” he continued.

So far, the MDT 809 has been performing well, meeting all Strabag’s requirements for a strong crane with efficient operation and minimal logistics and mobilization costs. It will work on the FAIR project for at least the next two years.

Find out more about the Potain MDT 809 topless crane on the Manitowoc website.


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