Tasmanian crane hire company Billing Cranes recently took stock of a Franna AT40. General Manager (GM) of Billing Cranes Darren Ling discusses the crane, its technological and safety features, and how it stacks up compared to other Franna cranes.
Based in Burnie, Tasmania, and operating throughout the entire state, it was a no-brainer for Billing Cranes to add Franna’s AT40 crawler to its burgeoning fleet.
Since its inception in 1992 at the hands of Greg Billing and Geoff Gibson, the company now known as Billing Cranes is a household name across the Tasmanian crane industry, with a fleet of 16 cranes.
Billing Cranes’ GM Darren Ling, who has been part of the company since 2019 and brings over 30 years of construction industry experience, says the upgraded lifting capacity of the Franna AT40 compared to the MAC 25 means that, since receiving the crane, it “hasn’t stopped working”.
“The capacity upgrade has seen the demand for this machine grow,” he says. “During its first week, we installed two modular barges into a lake for upgrade works in the middle of Tasmania, as the only other 40 tonne crane available in the state was out of action for repairs.”
As one of the newest additions to the Franna’s pick & carry portfolio, the AT 40 incorporates the latest technology with engineering excellence to provide features such as a maximum lifting capacity of 40 tonnes – a 44 per cent increase on the standard MAC 25 – and a three-axle design eliminating the need for a removable counterweight, something Ling labels as “fantastic”.
“It’s much easier than having to attach the counterweight for the MAC 25,” he says. “We’ve been looking at the AT 40 for a few years. The delivery was well communicated and on time, with a handover and training course completed as soon as it arrived.”
On top of its increased lifting capacity and convenience, the AT 40 provides additional features including a full-width isolated cabin, articulating counterweight and increased cabin storage, as well as a maximum road speed of up to 80 km/h – allowing for efficient and safe transportation to different job sites for the operator.
“It is certainly smoother on the road, and holds more safety features with additional cameras”, says Ling. “The operators love it, and also enjoy the new computer system and got comfortable with it quite quickly.”
One of those safety features is Franna’s very own patented Dynamic LMI. Entering the market in 2013, the system provides ‘real-time’ calculation of rated capacity, taking into account boom configuration, chassis articulation, pitch and roll, a continual assessment of structural limitations and forward and side stability – a feature Ling says Billing Cranes “loves”.
“It makes working on hills and angles so much safer for the operator and rigger,” he adds. “Additionally, the cameras are a great feature to show where everybody is around the crane at once.”
Made possible by a finer measurement of articulation pitch and roll angles, the increased resolution of rated capacity allows for an improved capability of the AT 40 machine. The capacity will be constantly updated when operating over undulating terrain on a jobsite providing instant information on the percentage of the utilisation of the machine on a 0-100 per cent scale. Furthermore, operators hold no need to manually calculate a reduction of rated capacity when working on a side slope or undulating terrain, with Franna’s Dynamic LMI automating that process, a feature to aid Billing Cranes’ mission of improving safety.
Further to its physical capabilities, an additional feature of the Franna AT40 is ‘Lift Planner’, Franna’s free dedicated lift planning tool, available online for operators to use as they see fit. Featuring options to choose the model of the crane, LMI, configuration and a range of inputs pertaining to the specific lift in question, the online widget allows for operators to calculate the precise measurements required to perform their lift and plan ahead of time.
“The Operations team is really only three of us that deal with bookings, planning and daily challenges on the jobs,” says Ling. “Our operators and riggers are top class and make decisions on the job to suit the conditions of each site, and the features on the Franna make this job easier.”
“It is always a challenge in this space,” he adds. “That’s where we rely on the team to work together as one with the client to manage all the risks and conditions that each job throws at us.”
Operating in Tasmania, and with Franna’s servicing stations residing on the mainland, one could be forgiven for assuming there would be a delay in receiving key servicing features and spare repair parts – an assumption Ling instantly dismisses.
“We have had no issues since receiving it,” says Ling.
“Our relationship with Franna is great; they always get parts out on time. We choose having a Franna over others, as the back-up we need is always there and willingly provided.”