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Tower crane Tetris

Constructing 10 buildings on a confined jobsite in Zaandam, north of Amsterdam, presented a puzzle that Dutch company Multi-Crane was able to solve through its extensive experience, meticulous planning, and the deployment of powerful yet compact Potain MDT topless cranes.

De Zaanse Helden, an ambitious urban regeneration initiative on a former industrial site beside the River Zaan, is breathing new life into the Dutch city of Zaandam. With a name meaning ‘The Zaan Heroes’, each of the 10 new buildings pays homage to a historical figure or iconic windmill from the region. Ranging in height from 25 to 35 m, these structures will house 607 residential units spanning 45 to 115 m², addressing the pressing need for more homes in the area. Featuring rooftop gardens and solar panels, the buildings aspire to create a sustainable and enjoyable living environment for the future.


Given the Netherlands’ reputation as one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, it is unsurprising that De Zaanse Helden occupies a compact site, with the 10 buildings closely positioned within a small area. So for Multi-Crane, the company tasked with providing the essential lifting muscle, the project necessitated a highly strategic approach to ensure seamless operations.


“The biggest hurdle was the limited space,” explains Ralph Breijer, CEO of Multi-Crane. “With 10 buildings planned, fitting in the cranes with the reach and capacity to handle everything efficiently was like a giant game of Tetris.”


Cranes play a crucial role in the project, lifting and precisely positioning a diverse array of elements, including pre-cast concrete, formwork, floor panels, and steel structures. The cranes must possess the capacity to handle the heaviest building components reliably and efficiently while being strategically positioned to reach all desired locations without colliding, oversailing, or exceeding the site boundaries.


Multi-Crane, founded in 1991 on the principles of innovation and collaboration, wasn’t phased by the challenge. Operating from its headquarters in Alphen aan den Rijn, the company conducts operations globally and possesses extensive experience in serving clients throughout the Netherlands, Northern Europe, the USA, Africa, Asia, and beyond.

The right equipment


Multi-Crane also boasts a substantial 50-unit rental fleet, predominantly featuring modern Potain MDT topless tower cranes equipped with CCS (Crane Control System). These top-slewing cranes are designed for mid-rise construction in urban environments and are known for their compact size, ease of assembly, and versatility, making them well-suited for tight jobsites with limited space such as De Zaanse Helden.


“We've always had great experiences with Potain cranes,” Breijer says. “Their reliability and consistent performance were crucial for this project.”

Three MDT 319 (12 t maximum capacity), two MDT 389 (16 t maximum capacity), and one MDT 308 A (12 t maximum capacity) were deployed on De Zaanse Helden. They have different heights under hook from 35 m up to 75.6 m and the jib lengths also vary from 35 to 50 m.


The right planning


Simply choosing the right equipment wasn't enough, however. The key to success also lay in meticulous planning. Multi-Crane examined detailed plans of the site to understand the tower heights and construction sequence, identify heavy lifting tasks, analyze crane access areas, assess crane capacities, and consider potential clashes with existing structures. The company then strategically positioned the cranes, planned their movement for each construction stage, and refined the layout through iterative drawings until the optimal site configuration was achieved.


“It was a collaborative journey with engineers, planners, experienced crane operators – and, of course, our partners at Potain,” Breijer says. “The Potain team’s expertise and unwavering support have been instrumental in finding the right solutions from the initial equipment selection to on-site troubleshooting.”

The right collaboration


This collaborative spirit also extended to Multi-Crane’s client, Stebru Bouw, the contractor responsible for the project. “Stebru Bouw had positive experiences with both Multi-Crane and Potain in the past and that trust, combined with our demonstrated ability to solve complex challenges, secured us the crane rental contract,” he continues.


With the project nearing completion this year, De Zaanse Helden stands as a beacon of urban renewal, a testament to the power of meticulous planning, strategic partnerships, and the right equipment. As Breijer concludes: “This project was a true puzzle, but thanks to our team's expertise, the unwavering support of Potain, and the exceptional capabilities of the MDT cranes, we delivered a winning performance."


Visit the Manitowoc website to learn more about Potain top-slewing tower cranes.


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