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Taller, longer, wider and stronger

How cranes from Grove, Manitowoc and Potain are shaping modern bridge building.

Bridges have the power to transform the communities they serve, delivering both economic and social benefits. For centuries they’ve been connecting the world’s towns, cities and countries, but as globalization advances, we’re seeing a new generation of bridges appear that are taller, longer, wider and stronger than anything before them. One crucial factor in delivering these new structures is the lifting technology that continues to emanate from the Manitowoc Cranes’ brands.

Grove mobile cranes, Manitowoc crawler cranes and Potain tower cranes continue to be a preferred choice for bridge building projects across the world. With one of the most diverse, reliable and productive ranges in the world, Manitowoc has an ideal match for just about any bridge project. But where the company is really delivering progress is in its superior lifting technology with capabilities that are enabling more ambitious projects to come to life.

Technologies such as the High Performance Lifting (HPL) winches for Potain tower cranes, or the Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) on Manitowoc crawler cranes, or the long-boom series of all-terrain cranes from Grove are facilitating the development of unprecedented bridge structures. And that’s what keeps contractors coming back time and again.

Record breaking

Last year, one of the world’s longest double-deck suspension bridges opened over China’s mighty Yangtze River. Playing a central role in construction of the bridge were Potain MC 310 K16 and MC 475 cranes. The Yangsigang bridge now connects the Hanyang and Wuchang districts of Wuhan in the Hubei province. It spans 1 mile (1.6 km) across one of the Yangtze River’s widest points and this highly challenging $1.27 billion project had to be completed to a punishing timeframe.

For Li Qang, crane manager at China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group, using Potain was an obvious choice.

“They are far superior to their rivals” he said. “And on this project, efficiency and performance were top priorities.”

Giant girders

Yet they’re not the only cranes in the Manitowoc range allowing projects with heavy, precast materials to complete to tight timescales. In Australia, infrastructure is also taking shape on an epic scale. Its Port of Brisbane project to duplicate the Lucinda Drive Bridge on Fisherman Island, Queensland is a case in point. In 2018, this $86 million project upgraded connections between the port and its surrounding road network and required a crane capable of some serious heavy lifting. A total of 17 girders weighing up to 138.5 t (152.6 USt) needed to be placed inside a one-month timeframe.

The perfect option for the job was a Manitowoc 16000 fitted with the Max-Er capacity-enhancing attachment belonging to Universal Cranes. Using the Max-Er attachment gives contractors greater lift capacity from a smaller footprint to equivalent cranes, and helped Universal Cranes wrap up the job on time and on budget.

“Placing the girders with the 16000 was relatively simple and the crane performed perfectly,” said the company’s project manager Nicolas Navarette.

Grove gets to work

Over in the U.S., power, speed and agility were watchwords for Ralph L Wadsworth Construction Company (RLW) during its work on Colorado’s North Metro Rail Line. This 18.5 mile (29.7 km) commuter rail system provides a fast and efficient connection to Denver’s Union Station from many of the city’s northern suburbs.

A substantial portion of the new line is the Skyway Bridge ­- an elevated light rail bridge which is the largest ever constructed in this part of the U.S. To deliver the necessary lifting efficiency to complete this project, RLW turned to a Grove GHC75 telescopic boom crawler crane, rented from local Manitowoc dealer Honnen Equipment. The real benefits of the GHC75 on the Skyway Bridge were its ability to work without being set up on outriggers and an ability to lift in the very tightest of spaces.

In fact, it provided such maneuverability and speed that contractors were able to save almost 20 minutes on every lift, and the GHC75’s heavy duty crawlers provided sure-footed performance despite the site’s wildly uneven terrain. “There wouldn’t have been room for a standard crane with outriggers”, said RLW’s construction manager Lee Adams. “The GHC75 gave us the capacity we needed in a frame that was small and agile enough to traverse the narrow job site.”

Bridge into the future

You can find similar stories of success on dozens of other sites around the world. Whether it’s downtown Manila in the Philippines, where a Grove GMK4100L was essential in building a new pedestrian walkway or Washington State in the U.S., where a Manitowoc MLC300 was called in to replace archaic wooden structures with modern, sustainable bridges fit for the 21st century, Manitowoc cranes are delivering a new generation of bridges from New Zealand to New Jersey.


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