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New Fibre crane headed to New Zealand

During last year’s Bauma, Liebherr launched a new Flat-Top series. Three of the eight units are equipped with fibre rope and therefore have “fibre” added to their product title. The first unit from the series is headed to Auckland, New Zealand. Cranes and Lifting explains.

During last year’s Bauma, Liebherr launched a new Flat-Top series. Three of the eight units are equipped with fibre rope and therefore have “fibre” added to their product title. The first unit from the series is headed to Auckland, New Zealand. Cranes and Lifting explains.

New Zealand construction business Hawkins is the first Liebherr customer in the southern hemisphere to order a fibre crane, a 370 EC-B 12 Fibre.

The first eight units of the new series already cover a wide range of services – from small city to large handling cranes, it’s all there. As a result, the maximum load capacities range from 6t to 16t and the maximum jib head load capacities range from 1.6t to 2.8t – working at a maximum radius. At full jib length, the units are among the largest in their class. The 125 EC-B 6 itself reaches 58 metres. The two largest cranes in the series, the 340 EC-B 12 and the 370 EC-B 12 Fibre each have a reach of up to 78 metres.

In addition, all cranes are optimised for assembly.

The Fibre series are EC-Bs equipped with a fibre hoist rope called soLite.

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soLite has been jointly developed by Liebherr and Teufelberger, an international company specialising in fibre ropes, steel wire ropes and strapping.

According to Thomas Schroeder, executive general manager Liebherr Tower Cranes Australia and New Zealand the launch of the new range followed plenty of research, development and testing.

“soLite has been thoroughly tested over a 10-year period, both in the factory and on job sites and the results have been nothing short of stunning. In total, it has been operated and tested over 318 weeks on 11 tower cranes, with 2,035m of rope utilised and tested in the field, on 15 sites in five countries. The Fibre cranes allow us to get up to 20 per cent more lifting capacity from the same structure.

“A good example of this can be made if you compare the 370 EC-B with the 340 EC-B. The steelwork in both is nearly identical but the 370 has 30mt more lifting capacity with the same structure. This is done by reducing the weight of the rope and the hook block,” he said.

“There are other advantages of the fibre rope including the fact that it doesn’t need to be greased. Due to its reduced weight, mounting it on the crane is safer and easier to handle and lasts up to four times longer than conventional steel rope,” said Schroeder.

Hawkins is the vertical build element of Downer.

Downer is the largest and oldest integrated services provider in New Zealand.

Dave Wright is national plant manager for Hawkins. He has been with Hawkins for 15 years and in the construction industry for 30.

“Hawkins owns and operates key plant and equipment mainly designed to assist with the setting up and construction of vertical build sites. The equipment includes tower cranes, portable buildings, temporary power and lighting, and basically any other equipment required to set up the temporary side of the site,” he said.

There are five Liebherr tower cranes in the Hawkins fleet which are as a result of a long relationship with the Liebherr organisation and the past performance of the Liebherr tower cranes.

“Since Downer bought the Hawkins business, we have been through a process of renewing the tower crane fleet. We now have two luffing cranes which are 357 HC-L 18/32s. We also have one 280 EC-H12s, which is a hammer head model and we have just taken delivery of the new Liebherr 370 EC-B 12 Fibre.

“We have a long relationship with Liebherr and over the years we’ve been extremely satisfied with the performance of their cranes. We appreciate the added safety features and what the computer system enables you to do. We’ve also been impressed with the LiDAT system which enables us to get real-time information from the on-board computer.

“The LiDAT system provides us with various types of technical data including the number of  hours each particular motor does, information about the performance of the crane, and it also provides wind warnings. We can also receive information on what is being lifted on the site, weights of the loads, along with the load torque and lifting cycles,” said Wright.

“We work closely with the Liebherr team in both Wellington and Auckland and, of course with Thomas Schroeder in Australia. We also receive support from Singapore and from the factory in Europe.

Because of the relationship with Liebherr, Wright knew the Fibre Crane development was in the pipeline.

“Hawkins senior engineer, Tim Noble-Campbell, and I travelled to Bauma in April 2019, and that’s where we first saw the 370 EC-B. It’s got an extra 20 per cent jib head load capacity, extra performance and extra health and safety advantages when erecting and demobilising,” he said.

“The fibre crane means you don’t have a heavy wire rope but you do have a longer service life. There are also technical advantages with far less maintenance on the fibre crane. Another big advantage is although they have the extra capacity, the fibre crane can still remain on the 21HC290 Tower System which is a far more economical foundation compared to a larger capacity crane.

“All round, we have high expectations for the crane and know it’s backed with product reliability and Liebherr after sales support,” said Wright.

When developing the new series, Liebherr focused on both the comfort of crane operators and safety on the construction site. The new LiCAB cabin is significantly larger and also has a greater field of vision compared to previous models.

Operational safety is also noticeably increased: The different elements of the rope’s outer layer wear out at a different pace – the crane operator knows it’s time to replace the rope when the red layer underneath the sheath becomes visible.

The now widely recognised bi-colour design of Liebherr tower cranes has been applied to the new EC-B series. Upon customer request, the yellow sections can be easily and cost-effectively adapted to the respective company’s colours.

The advertising panels are twice as large as previous options – without any loss of assembly height. For example, the 340 EC-B 12 and the 370 EC-B 12 Fibre both offer customers an additional 8.5 m2 of advertising space for company logos and advertising slogans, with the additional option of lighting.

Optimised structural steelwork: smaller, lighter, even more performance

Several details at the top of the crane have been optimised for transport and assembly: The new EC-B’s compact head, jib and trolley are lighter than their predecessors. In addition, the jib is now so narrow that three jib sections fit onto a truck bed. Compared with similar Liebherr cranes, even the shortest jib requires one whole transport truck less – and at least two less at maximum radius. This saves both time and money. The new cranes have also been designed with optimised quick assembly connections for jibs and counter-jibs, to make assembly even easier and, above all else, safer.

The new EC-B series makes optimal use of the tower systems’ performance capacity. Even the currently largest, new EC-B, the 370 EC-B 12 Fibre, works using the 21 HC 290 tower system with corner posts measuring only 2.1 metres. This is particularly interesting as it is one of the most widely used Liebherr tower systems.

Stephen Broomfield, Liebherr’s sales manager for Tower Cranes in New Zealand said, “Liebherr is very proud to have Hawkins as their partner and we are looking forward to working closely with them and towards another success story.

“The 370 EC-B 12 Fibre is a 12t tower crane on our 2.1m tower system. Our next model, the 380 EC-B has to go on 2.4m towers, so we almost get the same lifting capacity with smaller towers.

“We are able to achieve up to 78m of jib length, with a maximum 2.8t lifting capacity at that radius. The crane can be configured with different drives, reaching a maximum of 272m per minute. The big advantage of Liebherr electric cranes over diesel powered cranes is that similar speeds are achieved on an empty hook, cutting the lifting time considerably,” he said.

According to Schroeder, units from the EC-B range will be available in Australia soon.

“Liebherr-Australia is introducing the 370 EC-B 12 Fibre, along with the 340 EC-B 16 into the Australian market from April 2020 onwards. Cranes from the range will be available for rent from this point onwards. These will be the first Fibre tower cranes ever to be used in Australia,” he said.

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