C&L, CANZ, Cranes & Lifting, Features, New Zealand

Franna cranes the “standout” for Titan Cranes

Titan Cranes have a diverse range of Franna cranes in their fleet.

From owning the 45th Franna ever built to possessing a range of Franna cranes that today make up 15 per cent of its crane hire fleet, Titan Cranes’ Cam McCahill goes in depth on the reasons why the New Zealand company will always go with Franna.

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Travel back to 1987, and a range of  new sensations were descending upon the  world.

Then-leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, and US President, Ronald Reagan, were meeting to discuss the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Topping the charts was U2’s ‘With or Without You’, Bon Jovi had just released ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’, and Patrick Swayze had just done that move in Dirty Dancing.

It also marked the year that, nearly a decade after Dave Francis designed the first pick and carry crane, Franna’s machines entered the New Zealand crane market through two companies: Collins Lifting and Titan Cranes.

According to Titan Equipment’s National Crane Sales Manager, Cam McCahill, and the late founder of Collins Lifting, there was only one thing better than a Franna: two Frannas.

“They’re just such reliable machines,” he says. “The style’s pick and carry ability, its ease of transport, and its roadability always made Franna the standout pick and carry crane for us.”

In his own words, Cam has been in the industry “too many years to put in print”, but he estimates it to be over 45 years. Entering the industry at around the same time that Titan came into being circa 1965, Cam bore witness as Max Whiley and five other business partners purchased the heavy haul and crane hire division of Wilkins and Davies.

Titan Cranes have a diverse range of Franna cranes in their fleet.
Franna number 1045 – the 45th Franna ever built, and the first to enter Titan Cranes’ fleet. Image: Titan Cranes.

Over the next decadethe crane hire aspect of the business consistently thrived, to the point where Titan Cranes became its own entity within the company to operate the crane hire fleet. 

Starting from humble beginnings with six lattice boom crawler cranes and one seven-and-a-half Austin-Western hydraulic crane, the wet-hire company now operates a fleet of 55 cranes that feature all-terrain, city, truck and crawler cranes from Kato as well as a range of products from Terex across four depots in Taranaki, Canterbury,  Dunedin, and its head office in Wellington. 

Throughout his time in the crane hire industry, Cam has seen a range of equipment come through the doors during his tenure, with the Franna brand being one of the key staples for Titan Cranes. Because of this, he holds a unique position to comment authoritatively on the quality he sees from the Franna brand, due to the symbiotic stories of Franna and Titan Cranes in New Zealand.

“We purchased our first Franna in 1987; back then, it was the Franna 12T 4WD-1, and it had the serial number 1045 – the 45th Franna sold,” he said. “We purchased our second Franna in May 1988, and haven’t looked back  since.”

The appeal for Franna cranes is evident: as a highly compact, manoeuvrable, and very roadable machine, the cranes provide an efficient lifting machine that simultaneously handles the lifting and transportation of a load in one go. The lack of outriggers results in quicker set up times, reducing both labour and operational costs, while an easily adjustable boom and hook configuration further helps reduce their adaptability. All this amounts to Franna cranes thriving in jobs requiring frequent relocations, a crane that can move loads in confined environments, and highly manoeuvrable machines that can easily slot into nooks and crannies – whether that be in an urban setting or a mine. 

Titan Cranes now possesses eight Franna cranes in its fleet, covering all models from the AT15 through to the AT40, the latest model from the Australian pick and carry manufacturer. According to Cam, he’s seen them go to work in almost any industry possible and, whether it be unloading trucks, installing or assembling machinery, working in the steel erection industry, or picking and carrying road barriers, the operators “love them”.

Citing the hilly terrains as a complex factor in safe crane operations, Franna’s advanced safety features – such as the Dynamic LMI and newer technological advancements such as the safety radar and 360-degree camera discussed in the February edition of Cranes and Lifting – come in clutch for the New Zealand crane hire company. The Dynamic LMI, Franna’s patented system, shows a real-time chart that calculates the crane’s load capacity depending on safety, removing human error from the equation as much as possible. According to Cam, Franna’s latest technological advancements are emblematic of how the company consistently does its utmost to listen to user feedback and develop its machines to make them as safe as possible.

“Franna is always looking to increase the safety in its cranes, and that’s something we really value, especially as we need to navigate complex terrains,” he says. “The machines, essentially, are as safe as they can be onsite.”

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Since its inception in 1965 at the hands of Max Whiley, Titan Equipment has operated on the core values of loyalty, good service and employing people of principle. For Cam and the team at Titan, these are values they also see at Franna, which they feel is embodied by their recent tour of Franna’s Eagle Farm factory, where he and the team witnessed firsthand the engineering and manufacturing processes that unfold in Queensland. Cam cites a recent meeting with some of the Franna staff at the recent CICA conference as a further testimony to the calibre of people at Franna, labelling the team as passionate, energetic, helpful, and committed to the long-term aspirations Franna.

“With Franna,” he says, “we know we’re working with a company that prides itself on transparency, quality, and really listening to customer feedback to improve where it can,” he said.

Titan Cranes have a diverse range of Franna cranes in their fleet.
Titan’s slewers got to have an early night in thanks to the capabilities of the AT40 and AT20. Image: Titan Cranes.
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