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Building a giant: The development of the new Potain MDLT 1109

Manitowoc has launched the new 40 t maximum capacity Potain MDLT 1109 low-top tower crane — the largest ever Potain tower crane for the European market. In this article, we look behind the scenes at its design and testing, including Manitowoc’s Voice of the Customer process.

Every new crane at Manitowoc begins with the Voice of the Customer process — a mechanism for gathering direct feedback from customers and incorporating their needs, challenges, and preferences into the product development.


“The Voice of the Customer process ensures that when we’re creating a new product, we listen to what customers have to say right from the start and place their requirements at the heart of the design. It also helps us understand what different customers in different parts of the world want so we can tailor our approach regionally,” explains Thibaut Le Besnerais, vice president of marketing and development for tower cranes at Manitowoc.

Evolving European needs


One recent trend identified through this initiative is the growing demand for high-capacity cranes in Europe, which aligns perfectly with two key drivers. First, the European Union’s NextGenerationEU stimulus package, designed for post-pandemic recovery and a sustainable and resilient future, invests heavily in energy and transport infrastructure projects, which often rely on high-capacity cranes.


Secondly, the construction industry is increasingly adopting prefabrication as a way to expedite project timelines. As prefabricated elements become not only more common, but also larger and heavier, they necessitate cranes capable of handling their increased size and weight.


While the MD 1100, Potain’s first giant crane launched over two decades ago, was popular for its strength and reliability in major infrastructure projects, customer needs have evolved, as evidenced by the Voice of the Customer process.


“Today, our customers require additional functionalities from their cranes, including flexible configuration, simplified transport, and efficient erection to minimize public disruption and ensure projects are completed quickly, economically, and with maintained quality,” Le Besnerais says.


Manitowoc addressed these needs with the MDLT 1109, the largest ever-top slewing crane from Potain in Europe, which prioritizes compact dimensions, flexible configuration, easier transport, and faster erection.

Compact, powerful, efficient


The MDLT 1109 boasts a 40 t maximum capacity and an 11.1 t lifting capacity at a maximum reach of 80 m. It also offers a choice of two different lifting hoists, the 150 HPL 100 or the 270 LVF GH Optima.


A fundamental upgrade from the former MD 1100 is the modular K-mast design. Consisting of individual sections that can be easily assembled and disassembled, it provides the ultimate flexibility for diverse configurations and efficient transport. Additionally, using the 2.45 m K850 mast significantly reduces the crane’s footprint compared to the 4 m mast on the MD 1100, again allowing for easier transport in fewer truck loads. The K-mast design also enables the option of the innovative Potain Cab-IN internal mast operator lift, which improves access to the crane cab while retaining the traditional ladder. 


Furthermore, the MD 1109 comes equipped with a suite of advanced technologies, starting with the Potain CCS (Crane Control System). This user-friendly system streamlines setup, optimizes lifting performance for both accuracy and speed, and provides real-time data that supports operators with crucial insights to work more efficiently and effectively.


The MDLT 1109 also features the new Potain CONNECT telematics system, which plays a vital role in ensuring high crane uptime. It enables faster identification and resolution of issues, preventing minor problems from escalating into major ones. It also allows for remote access to crane data for troubleshooting and fleet management, empowering Potain customers to optimize their operations and get more out of their machines.


“The whole crane is designed to deliver quality work while benefiting our customers’ bottom line,” Le Besnerais says. “When calculating return on investment, how quickly a crane can be deployed, along with efficient and reliable performance, are crucial factors. Based on this, we expect the MDLT 1109 to be a big success in European infrastructure projects.”

Extensive testing phase


The MDLT 1109’s development involved a dedicated team effort. Following extensive customer consultations and design, the first prototype was manufactured at Manitowoc’s Moulins plant in France. This unit then underwent rigorous testing at the company’s Product Verification Center (PVC) in Lusigny, also in France. The PVC meticulously examined and tested every component to ensure it met Manitowoc’s strict standards for performance, quality, and reliability. Exceeding expectations in safety inspections, ergonomic evaluations, functional validations, and driving tests, the MDLT 1109 earned the PVC team’s approval.


“Launching a new crane is a momentous occasion for us at Manitowoc,” Le Besnerais concludes. “The project involved a diverse team, from engineers and service personnel to colleagues at the testing center, manufacturing, and purchasing departments. We celebrate this success as a testament to their dedication and hard work and it fills us with pride to see our cranes contributing to building infrastructure and shaping the future of our world.”


The first four Potain MDLT 1109 cranes have already begun work renovating a viaduct in Italy.


Visit the Manitowoc website to learn more about the Potain MDLT 1109 top-slewing crane.


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