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Empire Cranes solve installation headache with Maeda innovation

Empire Cranes recently deployed their newly purchased Maeda CC985S, 4.9t capacity telescopic crawler crane fitted with the innovative Searcher Hook attachment, to solve an installation headache in an automated distribution centre.

Empire Cranes were contracted to install a number of electric pallet elevators and pallet racking at a new automated distribution centre in Melbourne’s west. The pallet elevators were being retrofitted and the tolerances between the underside of the roof and the installation points were incredibly tight. Empire Cranes’ Jared McDonald and Jarrod Belsey turned to their Maeda CC985S fitted with the Searcher Hook innovation, new to this model of crane, to solve the problem.

“These DC’s are designed so that almost every square inch of space in the facility is utilised to maximise their storage space and productivity. This is great for the facility, but it makes it very difficult to manoeuvre a crane and install the tall pallet elevators between the roof rafters and the existing racking. The elevators weighed anywhere from 700kgs to 2,000kgs, depending on the size of the packages they are lifting. For us to effectively and safely install these elevators in position we had to get as close to the roof rafters as possible, with very little clearance under hook.” Belsey explained.

The client considered multiple options for the installation; They could remove a panel of the roof so a larger crane could lift the elevator systems into place, but as with large distribution centres they are constructed from one piece roof sheets. Removing these is not easy and cutting a hole in the roof wasn’t a favourable option for them either.

The other option involved stripping the units down and into manageable components which could then be eleveted into position using a scissor lift and a forklift. Again, not the most practical method as stripping the componentry down and rebuilding them in the air is not only time consuming, it brings additional and unnecessary working at height risks into the equation.

Empire Cranes was asked to come to site and offer some expert advice on a potential crane solution for their install problem.

“Initially, for the first stage of elevator installs, we used the Maeda spider crane which worked really well but as we got further away from the centre of the warehouse the clearance reduced drastically with the fall of the roof. It became very clear that we needed to find another solution for the next stage of elevators.”

“Coincidentally we were already in talks with Michael Cawston from Pace Cranes about purchasing the new Maeda CC985 mini crawler crane, and when we explained our current predicament to Michael, he recommended we also take the new Searcher Hook attachment for this model, the charts off the searcher are impressive, and would allow us to get up and close into tight areas not possible from the single fall hook. Additionally with the new CC985 model, you can also run a single fall sheave off the searcher hook, which we thought was very innovative. The decision for us was made, we purchased the crane and started preparing for stage two of the DC installation.” says McDonald.

Empire Cranes returned to site with their new purchase, and a new lift plan much to their contractors delight. We were a big hit when we arrived back to site for the next stage of installs, all around us were very impressed with our new piece of kit, and very keen to see how the searcher hook performed. At some points, we got the elevatorsto within 200mm of the underside of the roof line. This level of access and tight tolerances wouldn’t have been possible without the Maeda and the Searcher Hook attachment. We actually picked up the 2,000kg elevator in one sectionand took it to the underside of the roof and placed it in position.” he said.

“The Searcher Hook is a versatile piece of kit, and incredibly easy to use, we were surprised with its lifting capacity and with its versatility under hook. We were also impressed with the lifting capacity of the Maeda CC985, we were able to pick and carry some sections into position with the crawler function enabled, and made it a lot easier to place the elevators in tight areas.

“We were able to assemble and install the elevators at a rate of 4 perday and there were 24 elevators in total, we were well in advance of the clients proposed schedule.  Obviously, the Maeda with the Searcher Hook provided a massive saving for the client, allowing us to put these up with ease,

The Maeda CC985S is a powerful but small telescopic crawler with a lifting capacity of 4.9t. Although Searcher Hooks are not new to the MC range of Maeda cranes, they are now available on the CC range plus have greater lifting capacities, running ropes and sheaves.

“The compact stature of the tele-crawler enables it to manoeuvre into any challenging or confined spaces.  This crane is perfect for underground projects like the tunnels currently under construction in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as rail works, or installing sound walls. They have been put to the test over the years and in difficult workspaces and we have been impressed by its abilities. Combining strength with high tech features it is an ideal mini crane for our fleet,” said Belsey.

Maeda has added to the versatility of the range over the years and the latest addition to this model is the Searcher Hook which has a 2t capacity.

“The Searcher Hook is a very clever innovation because it enables you to lift in extremely tight spaces, especially under roof lines. We recently used the Super Hook in a series of lifts, and it enabled us to get within 300mm of the roof and above the load we were lifting. I doubt there is anything else on the market which enables you to get into that kind of limited space and lift up to 2t.

“The Searcher Hook, with its narrow slimline feature allows you to really get up tight and close inside or under a roof to lift machinery, or an air conditioning unit or anything like that and the gap is almost zero and then you have the additional versatility of the single fall hook attachment, which is rated to 1.2t. With this attachment you will need a little more clearance, approximately 600mm but it still an excellent feature designed to keep the main head of the unit away from what you are doing if you need to work in single fall up high,” he said.

“It is similar to the bayonet on a fly jib, it’s the same idea just that it allows you to run a single fall. Again, this provides you with the ability to get up close and under the roof and lift in extremely confined spaces. It’s an excellent feature for the crane and greatly increases its versatility,” McDonald explained.

“We are very thankful to Micheal and the Pace Cranes team for recommending this versatile crane for our growing fleet, it is fast becoming our favourite piece of kit!”

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