Features, New South Wales

Cobar Cranes rocking hard with new Tadano

Cobar Cranes recently took delivery of a new Tadano AC 160-5, which is the fourth Tadano to join the growing fleet. Business director Alister Ewan provides the background to the family business, and he explains the reasons for the addition and why he likes the Tadano brand.

“Cobar is a town in central western New South Wales, whose economy is based mainly upon base metals and gold mining. Around 2009, there was a downturn in hard rock mining that saw the previous crane hire business follow work into the coal industry. This left the town without a crane company, we saw the opportunity and grabbed it,” said Ewan.

Today, Cobar Cranes is operating within a 400km radius of Cobar, supplying cranes for mining maintenance and construction projects, as well as supporting mining contractors, local government authorities, essential energy providers including APA, as well as Telstra, Solar and John Holland Rail. 

“We currently operate 10 cranes, with the fleet featuring four Tadano all terrains, one smaller-capacity Liebherr all terrain, and five Frannas of various capacities,” said Ewan.

 He goes on to discuss how the work influences the make-up of the fleet and the approach the business takes to ensure the fleet is contemporary and fully utilised.

A major reason for choosing the Tadano AC 160-5 was the capacity and boom length it offers without the need for a dolly.

“With the work we do, we have tended to purchase cranes with long booms and, to ensure they as utilised as best as possible, we are prepared to run them at lower capacities if required. Every customer has different requirements and we have designed our fleet to meet these varying requirements,” he said.

The Cobar Crane fleet includes: 

   the new Tadano AC 160-5 160t capacity all terrain

   tadano 100/4L a 100t capacity all terrain

   Tadano 3180 ‘Challenger’ all terrain with a 60t capacity

   Liebherr LTM 1060-1 60t capacity all terrain

   Tadano GR 350XL 35t capacity rough terrain 

   Franna MAC25 25t capacity pick and carries 

   four Franna AT20 20t capacity pick and carries.

Ewan discusses what he likes about the Tadano brand and why he is more than happy to stick with it.

“The Tadano all terrains have been good to us – they have proved to be extremely reliable with the right balance of technological advancements, including slew lockouts, counterweight combinations, and long-boom options.

“Just as importantly, the technical service we have received from the Tadano team has been exceptional. We have found them to be super supportive when it comes to servicing and parts availability, and we are
happy to receive the timely safety bulletins and upgrades.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the technical advantages offered by the Tadano AC 160-5, so we were dying to finally see it in our fleet,” he said.

Ewan and his team were particularly impressed by the innovative IC1 Plus control system, which determines the crane’s lifting capacity for every boom position as a function of the superstructure’s slewing angle so that the crane can always use the maximum capacity available to it. 

In addition, it is the most compact crane of its class with a width of 2.75m and a total length of 14.5m. In combination with its 68m main boom, this makes it extremely versatile says Ewan. 

The Tadano AC 160-5’s axle load contributes to this versatility as well, as the crane can travel on public roads within a 12t axle load limit even when carrying a payload of 650 kilograms.

“This means that we can forego the use of expensive escort vehicles for a bunch of assignments and keep things cost-effective for our customers. 

Thanks to this competitive advantage, our investment in this crane will pay for itself in no time,” Ewan said with absolute confidence.

“One of the main reasons for choosing with the AC 160-5 was the capacity and boom length it offers without the need for a dolly. It also provides excellent charts for our type of work, and it will reduce the need for dual lifts with our 100t and 60t cranes. 

“This will help reduce the complexities of the lift as well as freeing up the other cranes for more work. The arrival of the crane has been perfect timing and it will cover some gaps in the fleet, as we have a number of major inspections planned for some of the cranes,” he said.

Ewan goes on to highlight the relationship Cobar Cranes has with the team at Tadano.

“Working with team at Tadano is great. The transition from Demag to Tadano has been smooth, with previous staff being transitioned across to the new organisation and this has kept a lot of good relationships in place.

“We have also found the technical support and spare parts availability to be excellent. We have chosen Tadano and Terex before them as our preferred OEM due to the many years of excellent service and support we have received in our remote location. We worked closely with Jay Gower, Tadano sales manager NSW/ACT, and he is very knowledgeable about his products. Jay has been great to deal with and made the purchase of the latest purchase of the AC 160-5 a very smooth transaction. 

“We couldn’t have picked a crazier time to order the crane. We were right in the middle of the Covid pandemic, with all the delays relating to the overseas freight issues. But, we found Jay to be a man of his word and he delivered the crane on time,” said Ewan.

The safe planning of lifts is a primary focus for Cobar Cranes.

“We have a number of measures in place to ensure lifts are conducted safely. We prepare lift studies supported by Tadano Lift Planner. We also have job hazard assessment processes as well as safe work method statements. We also have what we call a Prelift Take 5, which encourage our crews to take the time to ensure is in place as it should be before commencing the lift. We also operate with critical lift permits. We also visit each site prior to conducting the lift studies,” he said.

Cobar Cranes operates a crew of 10 operators and riggers/dogman with 80 per cent of the team being locals.

Cobar is a town in central western New South Wales, whose economy is based mainly upon base metals and gold mining.

“Our older team members have backgrounds in the crane sector where they have been operating larger cranes. They are experienced operators keen to share their knowledge and expertise with the younger guys in the team, which we always encourage.

“We also encourage our staff to be more than just operators, riggers or dogman. We want them to think and work as allrounders, dispelling the stigma of crane drivers being lazy. Hence, most of our staff have trades backgrounds. Office staff include one fulltime office manager and one part- time administration officer. They are the glue for our business,” said Ewan.

“Where do we see the business in five years? Much the same. We will continue with the upgrading of ageing machines to keep up with technology and safety. It will be interesting to see where electric versions are heading in the near future. The secret to our success? Like everyone in the industry, we put in the hours and work hard,” he said.  

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