Potain technical service technician Chen Tao gives us the inside track on what it is like to assemble the largest ever topless tower crane from the Manitowoc factory in Zhangjiagang, China.
What were your first impressions of the new Potain MCT 1105 topless crane?
It is absolutely enormous! In my nine years installing Potain tower cranes, first at our testing ground and then for customers, I have never worked with such a beast. Last year, we broke records with the launch of the MCT 1005 M50, which until recently was the largest ever topless crane to come out of the Zhangjiagang plant. I never expected that we would go even bigger!
How does the MCT 1105 build on the MCT 1005 M50?
Both cranes have the same impressive capabilities – a 69.7 m maximum freestanding height under hook, a 50 t maximum capacity, and an 80 m working radius. The difference is that the MCT 1105 has a significantly bigger tip capacity. Whereas the MCT 1005 M50 can lift up to 8 t at the end of an 80 m jib, the MCT 1105 can lift up to 11 t. Customers have been asking for greater flexibility and performance along the jib and I think it’s incredible, the standard we are setting for what’s possible with a topless design. I feel very proud.
What is it like to assemble such an enormous crane?
The MCT 1105 has all the features we know and love from the MCT range, such as the modular hoisting that makes these cranes just so quick and easy to assemble. But being much bigger than a regular Potain MCT crane, we obviously need to take the increased weight of certain components into account. I’m talking about the jib and counter jib, the slewing mechanism, the counterweights, and after assembly, the wire ropes for the hoist and trolley. On a smaller tower crane, for example, we could manually handle the pulleys, rope support, brackets and platforms, whereas on a crane of this size, we need the assistance of a mobile crane – and that takes a bit of extra planning and preparation.
What preparation goes into the assembly process?
Before even going to the customer’s site with the first MCT 1105, we rehearsed assembling it and disassembling it in the testing ground at the Zhangjiagang factory, along with two MCT 1005 cranes for extra practice. It is important that each member of the team is 100% certain of the plan and process so the assembly goes without a hitch. As for the transport to the customer’s site, the upper part of the crane requires 12 containers. The number of containers needed for the mast depends on the customer’s configuration. Once on site, we needed to use a mobile crane to pre-assemble several parts of the tower crane – I mentioned this earlier. Although that means we take an extra day to install the platform railings and other components, it also gives our maintenance personnel the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new model.
How long does it take to assemble?
For a crane of this size, the MCT 1105 is surprisingly quick to assemble, but the actual time will depend on the customer’s site. It takes one and half days to unload and assemble the small parts on the ground; one to one and a half days to hoist the three whole standard sections along with the frame and upper half of the crane; one day to install the wire ropes, and one and a half days to jack the crane to its freestanding height. Then, to ensure all the mechanisms and functions are ready to begin lifting, we need to adjust all the protection limits, including the weight limiter, moment limiter, lifting limit, variable amplitude limit, slewing limit, and data logger.
Is your job complete once assembly finishes, or do you continue to support the customer?
Our job isn’t done the moment the assembly is finished. We understand that customers rely on our cranes to get their jobs done and we’re committed to providing ongoing support throughout the lifespan of the equipment. So, I’ll continue to help with on-site processing or remote technical support – whatever the customer needs. Each crane sale is the start of a new partnership, which means we are always at our customers’ sides, ready to help them get the most out of their equipment and keep their projects moving forward.