Dominating the local P&C crane market, Franna’s cranes are present in every industry requiring lifting, thanks to their versatility. Terex design engineer Jamie Monaghan discusses its machines’ point of difference, with an emphasis on why they’re the most prominent cranes in underground mining applications.
Franna’s pick and carry cranes (P&C) have been dominating the Australian market for over 40 years. Today, its products are sold globally, and its cranes make up over 90 per cent of the Pick and Carry (P&C) market in Australia. On any given day, there are 10,000 cranes operating across the country – 50 per cent of which are Franna’s P&C cranes.
Back in late 2021, the Queensland-based manufacturers launched a range of cranes that targeted the mining sector: the ‘Minemaster’ range, a series of P&C cranes that came fully equipped and ready to work in the industry.
Designed to meet the safety requirements of the complex operating environments on the modern-day mining site, Franna’s design engineer Jamie Monaghan said it was “just what the market needed.”
“We’d received a lot of feedback from our team in marketing and sales that customers were requesting mine-specific cranes,” he says. “And so, we put our minds to work and came up with the ‘Minemaster’ range.”
Jamie is a design engineer at Terex Australia and has been with the Franna brand for over five years. Boasting over 12 years of experience as an engineer, he’s worked in an array of roles across both Northern Ireland and Australia.
Aside from the cultural differences and an “awesome” lifestyle, one of the discrepancies in crane engineering that Jamie’s noticed is the unique properties of the Franna brand in Australia: as he says, P&C cranes “just aren’t used anywhere else”.
“It’s a very unique crane,” he says. “It’s very roadable, compact, and can be lifted or lowered into nooks and crannies quite easily. Overseas, they use rough-terrain cranes or alternative lifting methods in situations that a pick and carry crane is perfect for.”
Their appeal to the market lies in their versatility: without the need for outriggers, Franna’s cranes can operate in much more confined areas and on much rougher terrain – albeit with a reduced capacity. Excelling in its capabilities in the construction and mining sector, the crane devised by Dave Francis in the 1970s is still Australia’s preferred P&C crane across multiple industries, thanks to its practicality and versatility.
The mining industry is notorious for providing difficult conditions for cranes to work and operate in. With uneven ground, rough, sandy terrains, caverns with minimal space and harsh, red dust blowing about, the durability, safety, and practicality of the crane are all thoroughly tested. According to Jamie, this is “no problem” for the ‘Minemaster’ range.
Consisting of four cranes – the AT15, the AT22, the MAC25, and the AT40 – the capacity varies from 15 tonnes through to 40 tonnes. Because of their unique, compact design, these cranes excel in roles with rough terrain underfoot where access to space is limited.
“We emphasise a lot of the safety elements in this series because of the severity of the conditions,” says Jamie. “Additional emergency stops are put in place, the Mac 25 comes with the option to add on extra safety elements, there’s a 360-degree camera so every facet of every lift is supervised, there’s always extra lights placed on the crane for additional visibility.”
“When we’re designing the cranes, we factor in the corroding effect of the dust too,” he continues. “We’ve installed pressurisers in the cabin to ensure the least amount of dust possible gets in there, because that’s an expensive thing to get out.”
“Additionally, the cranes need to be serviced more frequently than those working in construction. Thanks to our expanded servicing network, we know that we can help our customers out with that.”
Requiring no outriggers, these machines allow their operators to set up and start work almost immediately. Contractors frequently choose the ‘Minemaster’ range of cranes because of their ability to perform any job within their capacity at a safe and efficient rate, and anecdotal evidence supports this.
Speaking to Cranes and Lifting in the July edition of the magazine, Darren Ling, GM of Tasmanian crane hire company Billing Cranes, was effusive in his praise for Franna’s patented ‘Dynamic LMI’.
“It makes working on hills and angles so much safer for the operator and rigger,” he said. “Additionally, the cameras are a great feature to show where everybody is around the crane at once.”
With a lift-planning application available online too, safe operation of its cranes is at the forefront of Franna’s design philosophy.
As the cranes’ versatility sees them applied to each industry that requires some modicum of heavy lifting, Jamie feels comfortable in what he and the engineering team are producing for the mining industry.
“Our cranes are operational in tight spaces, hold multiple articulation points, are very roadable and our servicing capabilities mean that there’s very limited downtime,” he says.
“It’s a great brand; Franna’s cranes are a staple of the Australian lifting industry, and it’s not hard to see why.”