Case Studies, Products, Queensland

Embracing Palfinger’s innovation and technology

RC Lift and Shift may be a relative newcomer to the Brisbane crane market, but owner and director Andrew Popp is forward thinking when it comes to the equipment he wants to offer customers. He recently took delivery of the first Palfinger PCC 57.002 crawler crane to be delivered into the country.

Mr Popp is an owner operator who, in 2019, set up a crane truck business called Coast and Country Crane Trucks. Based in Park Ridge on the south side of Brisbane, and with a new name of RC Lift and Shift, he services various industry sectors in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales. However, Mr Popp is prepared to travel for his clients and has completed projects in Moree, Gympie and as far as Townsville, Cloncurry, and Sydney.

Mr Popp provides some more detail regarding the new Palfinger crawler crane. 

“The Palfinger PCC 57.002 is a knuckle boom crawler crane. You would normally associate knuckle booms with a crane truck. The crane has a load moment of 52.7 MT [typical rating of knuckle boom cranes] and, if you compare charts, it would be competing with a 25–30t all terrain,” he said. 

“One of the benefits of the crane is its compact size. When it is folded in on itself it only measures 5.9m in length x 1.9m in width. Depending on the configuration it weighs between 19t and up to 26t and features 5t of counterweight. Within minutes it can further disassemble itself with the heaviest item, the superstructure, weighing 12t. The counterweight is slightly different to those on all terrains for example, because the crawler crane doesn’t need the counterweight if it can be set up on full outriggers. 

“The purpose of the counterweight is primarily to maintain the lifting capacity of the crane when you are working on short outriggers because there isn’t enough space for full outrigger widths. It also increases pick and carry capacity and it provides full lifting capacity if you are working with the crawler tracks disconnected from the super structure,” said Mr Popp.

The crane has the ability to shift sideways as well as backwards and forwards on its outriggers, similar to the way a dragline walks. This enables the crane to get into positions where other types of cranes can’t get to Mr Popp explained.

“It is a really beneficial feature, and I can’t think of another crane that has it. You can pick yourself up onto the outriggers and get over the top of obstacles or cross ditches or small excavations on a construction site. Shifting presents another great advantage when set up in restricted spaces on short outriggers. By shifting the crane inbetween lifts it can archive full outrigger lengths to the required working side and increase its lifting capacity without having to actually move the crane. 

Andrew Popp likes the compact nature of the Palfinger.

“The main benefit of this shifting ability is you can disconnect the superstructure from the crawler crane, which enables you to access entrances or doorways as low as 2.1m in height. You can ‘walk’ on the outriggers through the doorways with the crawler unit, which incorporates the diesel and electric power-pack, following the crane. It is a very clever feature of the crane.

“You can also operate with the crawler unit disconnected. If you were working in an environment where diesel emissions are unacceptable, and three-phase power isn’t available, the PCC57.002 has 13m of hydraulic hose, which enables you to walk the crane on its outriggers inside the building whilst the power pack unit remains outside. This is another smart feature of the crane,” he said.

The PCC57.002 is equipped with a hydraulic, six-section fly jib, which is great for the really difficult to reach spaces. 

“The hydraulic fly jib is also a great feature. You can go straight up with the main boom and then extend the fly jib to get into windows for example, or to get up and above gantry cranes and other hard to reach spaces. The crane also has a 3.5t winch mounted to it and features a running rope that can be used with up to a four part of line,” said Mr Popp.

“The crane also comes with a workman basket, which is fully certified to work as an EWP [elevated work platform] in Australia. The workman basket is monitored by the electronics of the crane, with the remote control hardwired to the basket. The crane automatically knows when the basket is attached, and the speed of the crane is reduced to comply with EN280 Workman Basket Standards. 

“I also ordered a couple of different lifting attachments for the crane, which are similar to the rhino hooks known from articulated cranes. These relocate the lifting point from the bottom of the boom to the front of the boom and to about the same height as the top of the boom. These are ideal for working in restricted height situations.”

The PCC57.002 crawler crane features a hybrid engine concept that includes a 3.6-litre Tier V rated diesel engine from Caterpillar. You can also use 32 amp three-phase power onsite to eliminate engine noise, vibrations, and emissions. This is ideal if the crane is working in food processing areas, factories, shopping centres, or on a site in the city overnight when noise is unacceptable. The PCC57.002 provides a sustainable approach to lifting. If the crane is on a job site with three-phase power available, simply plug the crane in and there is no fuel consumption, zero emissions, and all features work without the loss of speed or capacity. 

The crane is fully remote controlled, whichenables the operator to always place himself in the safest location, “hand’s on”, close to the work and will also reduce the need for additional riggers on site.

Another interesting feature is a set of forks that can be attached to the outriggers. This enables the crane to carry up to 3t of load along the side of the crane. This feature is ideal for transporting steel beams, columns, or other long items, and negates the need for a forklift or transporting the goods on a truck.

Mr Popp explains his history with Palfinger products.

“I have had some experience with Palfinger products in Germany, including operating a Palfinger PK150.002 knuckle boom crane with a 116MT  rating, so, for some time, I have been aware of the quality of Palfinger products. When I started my business, I had my eye on setting up a large truck-mounted knuckle boom crane, but I had to get myself established in the construction sector first.

“My initial plan was to purchase a second crane truck with a much bigger crane. But I looked at the overseas markets, compared to the Australian market, and I can see the Australian construction sector starts following trends where builders are wanting to extract every last inch from a building site, and access for cranes is getting tighter and lifts more difficult.

“The Palfinger PCC57.002 crawler crane is going to be ideal in these scenarios. It is a very versatile and compact machine and an excellent heavy lifter for its size. I started researching the crane around September 2020 and, in November, I approached Palfinger Australia for pricing and with questions I couldn’t answer myself. Dave Murray from Palfinger has been very helpful in terms of organising and planning the whole project,” he said.

The crane is the first of its kind to arrive in Australia and it brings ‘not seen before’ innovation to the market. Mr Popp is excited by this and is confident the crane will provide him with a competitive advantage.

“In my opinion, it is time the Australian market embraced new innovations. Compared to other world markets I would say the Australian construction and crane sectors are, in some aspects, still a few years behind when it comes to embracing innovation and new technologies,” he explained.  

“There is also still a strong, negative opinion surrounding crane trucks or knuckle boom cranes in the industry. The days where a crane truck was good enough to load and unload itself are long gone but many people still share that point of view.

“We’ve seen some improvement in recent years, but I wanted to make a push with this crane. It features innovation not seen before in this country and these features enable me to think outside the square when it comes to planning and executing lifts. There is always a safe solution to a problem,” he said.

Mr Popp was prepared to pay the premium for the Palfinger PCC57.002 crawler crane.

“Yes, it was the most expensive machine in this class, and there are a couple of manufacturers with similar products, but I wanted the extra functionality that the crane provides and Palfinger guaranteed the workman basket would comply with our standards and it would be approved for EWP work. The other brands couldn’t make this guarantee,” he said.

“Palfinger have been very helpful throughout the whole process. If I had questions, they were always prepared to answer them. And if the question couldn’t be answered immediately, they would do their research and then come back with the answer.”

Mr Popp started the business with a Mitsubishi 8×4 truck fitted with a front- mounted 24TM capacity HIAB 244 E-8HIPRO. 

“The crane has an eight-section boom with 21m of reach and it features a winch as well. We recently added the Palfinger crawler crane, which is a significant investment for the business. I also invested in a flattop car trailer, which also features a small crane, and I am using this as a rigging trailer for the crawler crane so I can get my rigging gear to site. The trailer crane has a 1.5t capacity is Australian made by Kevrek in Perth,” he said.

The crane also comes with a workman basket which is fully certified to work as an EWP in Australia.

In the start-up phase, one of Mr Popp’s first big clients was a Tier 1 contractor’s maintenance depot in close proximity to his depot. In the first 18 months of starting his crane truck business he also started sub-contracting to a number of companies as a rigger and as a crane operator. 

“This additional line of work just developed by itself but wasn’t actually part of my original business plans” he said. 

He found himself on various sites rigging and driving cranes up to 280t capacity Liebherr crawlers as well as rough terrains cranes, all terrain cranes, and Frannas. 

The added line of work and the purchase of the new Palfinger PCC 57.002 crawler crane led to the change in the business name to RC Lift and Shift, with the RC representing ‘remote controlled’.

“With the new Palfinger, I now have the opportunity to broaden my approach to the lifting sector. I am moving forward from being exclusively a crane truck- focused business, with a sideline in rigging and crane operating,” he said. 

The PCC is going to open up huge opportunities for the business he added.

“Currently, we are recognised as delivering a ‘one stop shop’, which includes the ability to deliver materials to a construction site and lifting them to where they need to be. This compares to a service where the materials are off-loaded to site and the builder needs to organise a Franna or city crane to move the materials around the site,” he said. 

“That’s a big point of difference. I have always been customer-focused and this keeps our customers happy and re-booking our services.

“With almost every job, I build in extra time because customers will frequently ask for lifts to be completed when we are onsite. We always try to accommodate the customer whilst we are onsite. 

“We don’t have a typical customer profile. One day I will receive a call from a member of the public who needs something shifted, and the next I will be working with one of my regular builders delivering or shifting just about anything. I can get the truck crane on site and lift the equipment to the required locations which is huge advantage and point of difference.

“Customer service and satisfaction is my highest priority in business. It is the main focus with everything I do because a satisfied customer will continue to use you rather than try another supplier,” he said. 

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