What does it take to build a Grove rough-terrain crane capable of withstanding some of the most extreme conditions on earth? Federico Lovera gives us some insight into Grove’s unmatched arctic weather packages that enable cranes to keep operating down to -40°F (-40°C) and even withstand temperatures as low as -76°F (-60°C).
Grove rough-terrain cranes have always been the toughest in the business. It’s what prompted the ‘Grove. Real Tough.’ tagline that accompanies its GRT models. These reliable and dependable workhorses can be found on job sites all over the world, including in some of the most extreme weather environments.
To enable its cranes to work in extreme environments, Grove offers a range of design kits, including its unrivalled cold weather packages for lifting in extreme temperatures. Engineers at the manufacturer’s Product Verification Center (PVC) in Shady Grove, Pennsylvania, design, test, and roll out each cold weather-specific component and system at the facility in a weatherized chamber, simulating extreme temperatures found most typically in the arctic and high altitudes.
We spoke with Federico Lovera, Manitowoc’s regional product manager for rough-terrain cranes, to learn more about why Manitowoc’s top-to-bottom cold weather packages are regarded as the best in the business.
Looking Up: How does Grove engineer its cranes to work in extreme cold?
Federico Lovera: "Each aspect of a crane equipped with our optional cold or arctic weather packages is evaluated for work in harsh conditions. We test and adapt each system and component to be sure they function properly in cold climates. We run through all the functions operators use in their day-to-day work to make sure our customers have a crane they can count on – one that starts well, and keeps going throughout the day, no matter how extreme the environment. "
LU: What are the packages and what do they offer?
FL: "We have two package options available: a -20°F (-29°C) Cold Weather Package, and a -40°F (-40°C) Arctic Weather Package. The Cold Weather Package includes arctic fluids for the engine, transmission and hydraulics. These are specifically designed for extreme cold temperatures. There is also a diesel-fired cab heater, which warms the cab in less than 20 minutes. It not only heats the cab, but also water that is used to preheat parts of the crane such as the engine, batteries, and transmission. Elsewhere, there’s an air diverter, which moves warmer air collected from under the engine hood to preheat the air intake into the engine. The Arctic Weather Package has everything that’s included in the Cold Weather Package, plus some additional features. These include a super-capacitor starting system, which provides additional cranking during cold weather start up, additional cold weather fluids and insulated coolant lines suitable for operation in temperatures as low as -40°F (-40°C). "
LU: What does the operator need to do differently in the arctic? What’s different about lifting?
FL: "We have robust guidelines for crane operation in cold weather. A couple of essential tips we always recommend for cold weather working, are: allow some time to preheat the entire crane before starting work, and also perform some test lifts without load before the first pick of the day, to circulate warmer oil into the crane systems, and to make sure everything is working properly. "
LU: What are some of the biggest hazards to watch out for in the arctic?
FL: "It goes without saying that in extreme environments, operators have to use even more caution than usual. We provide extensive detail in the operator’s manual but, in general, one major item to remember is that sudden movements should be avoided. Any kind of shock to the system or to any part of the crane can have enhanced repercussions, versus a normal operating environment. In general, a Grove RT will work as smoothly at -40°F (-40°C) as it does on a regular job site, but at the same time it’s important to have full awareness of your environment when operating at extreme temperatures."
LU: Where are cranes with cold weather packages typically used?
FL: "All over the world! We have cranes with -40 °F packages working in mining or energy applications in Siberia. There are other cranes elsewhere in Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Customers in Chile have purchased these specially adapted cranes for mining in the Andean mountains, and in Canada too. We even have a fleet of machines at work in Antarctica!"
Armed with extreme weather packages, Grove cranes support research at Australian station in Antarctica, where temperatures can reach -76 °F (-60 °C).
The Australian government has six Grove rough-terrain cranes supporting the country’s Antarctic program at Davis Station, located some 2,250 nautical miles southwest of Perth.
A Grove RT540E rough-terrain crane is the latest Grove to arrive in the continent, boasting Manitowoc’s Arctic Weather Package to allow work in temperatures as low as -40 °F (-40 °C).
Davis Station supports the Australian Antarctic Program through a range of scientific research on climate, weather, ecosystems, ice and animals.