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Solving the lifting challenges of urban growth

Our cities are growing upwards, outwards and downwards. In this article we look at how the latest generation of Manitowoc cranes is helping drive urban growth.

According to the United Nations, around 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Today the figure is around 55%. In addition, around 60% of the land that will form the cities of 2030 has yet to be built on. It’s true that few industries will have as much impact on the development of global urbanization as the crane business. And few companies are as capable of facilitating that urbanization as Manitowoc.

The balance between adding to existing urban locations and building new centers is an interesting one. Bringing impressive new developments to life in downtown locations often requires leading-edge, high-tech lifting equipment. Whereas for greenfield urban sites, the focus is more on reliability, safety, ease of operation, etc., for the cranes.

From a crane selection standpoint, it means a new high-rise building in a downtown location probably needs a high-capacity luffing jib crane, like a Potain MR 418 with an HPL winch. Whereas a greenfield site, with a need for many cranes, might opt for a fleet of MCT 205 units.

Of course, Manitowoc’s ability to offer the right mix of lifting equipment for today’s (and tomorrow’s) urban development is no coincidence. Under The Manitowoc Way there has been renewed focus on customer satisfaction, and this means the company’s products are better aligned than ever before to the needs of the contractors, developers and governments who are shaping our urban centers.

Aaron Ravenscroft, executive vice president of cranes at Manitowoc, explained how The Manitowoc Way has impacted crane design and how that relates to increased urbanization.

The Manitowoc Way is defining the Manitowoc of the future, and you see it in the quality, design and support we offer customers,” he said. “Quality has to be engineered into a crane, and it’s something you’ll see in our products. We design our cranes with input from customers and understand how they’ll be used on the job site. Maintaining uptime remains a focus too — reliability is just as important as boom length. By continuing to focus in these areas we aim to remain the number one crane choice on urbanization projects.”

Downtown challenges

For congested downtown locations, putting cranes to work is increasingly challenging. Restrictions on machinery and vehicles often apply in terms of noise, emissions and timings. It means companies want a minimal number of vehicles on urban job sites and at the same time achieve faster set-up. It’s also a requirement to stay inside necessary noise and emissions restrictions.

To alleviate such issues, the latest generation of Manitowoc cranes are designed for optimal performance in downtown locations. A good example is the Grove GMK6300L-1 all-terrain crane. It has a main boom that reaches 80 m (262 ft) and at full height can lift 14 t (15.4 USt) inside a 15 m - 28 m (49 ft - 92 ft) working radius. This makes it perfect for assembling tower cranes, while Grove’s unique Megatrak suspension and all-wheel steering give it outstanding maneuverability for a six-axle mobile crane — particularly useful for congested urban streets.

Reliability is always an issue for construction equipment, but on downtown projects it takes on added importance. Urban jobs can often be subject to punishing fines for late completion or deadline overruns. At the same time, access to the project might be restricted or in the case of a high-rise development, you’re looking at a tower crane that’s several hundred meters in the air.

Building cranes with fewer reliability issues addresses this head-on. But equally important is having the infrastructure in place to identify breakdowns swiftly and getting them resolved as quickly as possible. Manitowoc’s CraneSTAR Diag is designed precisely for this issue. It connects to the Potain CCS system and means any issue with the operating system is immediately relayed to the Diag-enabled device (phone, laptop, etc.). Once this happens, spare parts can be dispatched, technicians called, or the operator guided through fixes, depending on the issue, its severity and location. Manitowoc customers get further peace of mind from the fact that the company has the world’s best dealer support network along with worldwide support teams in its Manitowoc Crane Care division.

Changing trends

In terms of lifting requirements, modern urbanization has some notable trends which the crane industry, and Manitowoc in particular, is facilitating. With less space in built-up environments, topless Potain MDT or luffing jib MR tower cranes are increasingly popular. Building methods and materials are evolving too. The use of precast blocks and other large components is preferred on high-rise projects. Using large building sections and more rapidly connecting them means developers can complete buildings faster. Nowhere is that more important than with high-value developments, such as downtown skyscrapers.

Using precast and other large building components has a couple of implications. First, the blocks are bigger and heavier than typical construction materials. This means higher capacity cranes are needed, to meet the "heavy and high" requirements for today’s tall construction. In addition, precast elements require careful positioning, so close control of the crane is needed.

To support these changing building trends Potain is continuing to extend its range of high-capacity topless and luffing jib cranes. The latest example is the MCT 565 topless crane, which was designed and built at the Potain factory in Zhangjiagang, China. Even five years ago this 550 tm crane would be considered a niche product at the top of the scale, yet today it is already attracting interest in large numbers from contractors and rental companies across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Demand for similar models continues to rise, and further high-capacity tower crane launches from Potain are likely to follow.

Faster construction is also important on greenfield urban job sites. Here however, accessibility to the project tends to be easier so contractors position multiple cranes on site to deliver the project faster.

Potain MCT cranes, built in China and India, are increasingly popular for these types of projects. Affordable and productive, the MCT 205 is a popular topless unit. Its design means several can be erected and overlap with ease. Across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, these cranes are helping drive urbanization with their ease of erection and operation.

Building global

Urbanization is bringing the world’s communities together on an unprecedented scale, and cranes are playing a central role. To build the cities of the future, the construction industry needs to continue evolving and that’s something Manitowoc is already leading with The Manitowoc Way. With the cranes, company and commitment to deliver lifting solutions for today’s — and tomorrow’s — construction challenges, Manitowoc will unquestionably play a key role in urbanization.


Ho Chi Minh high-rise

Landmark 81 is the tallest building in Vietnam and it opened for business earlier this year after four Potain cranes played a central role in bringing it to life. Two MR 418 luffing jib cranes worked alongside two MCT 205 topless cranes for just 15 months to complete their lifting work on the 81-story building in Ho Chi Minh City. “We were impressed with the speed and efficiency of the cranes. Their reliable operations helped us achieve a construction rate of three days per floor. This helped us finish the project ahead of schedule," said Ho Van Thao, project director for contractor Coteccons, which owns the cranes.

High-speed hoisting

One of the most important innovations from Manitowoc for urban construction is the HPL winch technology for Potain tower cranes. The newest is the 75 HPL 25, a high-performance winch designed for high-speed use to accelerate high-rise construction. The updated winch offers up to 956 m (3,136 ft) of wire rope and can reach lifting speeds of up to 215 m/min (705 ft/min). It’s also able to decrease its speed significantly, giving the operator closer control and making it well-suited to operations such as placing precast concrete blocks. Parts are standardized for easier maintenance, while new technology includes a temperature monitor that prevents overheating and prolongs gear life. With lower noise and vibration levels, it also ensures a better working environment for the operator, again boosting productivity.

Raising the roof in Milwaukee

NBA basketball team the Milwaukee Bucks has settled into its new home, the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. The spectacular new stadium was completed with the help of several Manitowoc crawler cranes. For the challenging roof sections, Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental supplied contractor Mortenson Construction with two Manitowoc 16000s. Ryan Olsen, safety manager for Mortenson, said the cranes were chosen for their capacity plus compact footprint. “We had to assemble all roof truss components on the ground before lifting. We needed cranes that could deliver the necessary capacity and mobility to execute our lift plans, and these Manitowoc crawlers did not disappoint.”

Fast fit in Frankfurt

Like many cities, Frankfurt, Germany, imposes restrictions on heavy equipment in downtown locations. That meant that German crane company BKL Baukran Logistik had just 48 hours to get a high-capacity crane into the city to set up, complete mechanical installation work on top of a 94 m (308 ft) building and get out. The company knew only one crane capable of handling the job: its GMK6400. “For this particular project, our customer had only 48 hours to complete the project. We also had to erect and breakdown the crane within that time. We chose the GMK6400 due to its fast, self-rigging MegaWingLift, light components and ease-of operations," said Edwin Weidner, manager of mobile cranes for BKL in Frankfurt.

Grab a cab

The "taxi" concept for all-terrain cranes is particularly relevant for city work. Essentially, it’s about creating a crane configuration that allows legal road travel, yet also provides a machine with the best-possible lifting performance, all in a single vehicle. It’s a question of balance and finetuning engineering — and no one does it better than Manitowoc. The latest Grove AT crane from the company underlines its well-established leadership in taxi design. The GMK4090 is a four-axle unit with a 90 t (100 USt) capacity and 51 m (167 ft) main boom, yet which measures just 2.55 m (8.5 ft) wide and has a minimum tailswing of only 3.5 m (11.5 ft). Combined, this makes for great performance on the hook alongside equally great performance on the tires. In addition, the GMK4090 can carry up to 9.1 t (10 USt) of counterweight and stay within the 12 t (13.2 USt) per axle limit, all in a single vehicle.


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