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Powering Electric Tower Cranes emission free

Cranepower's emission free tower crane generator, the CP-300.

Last year, New Zealand engineering and manufacturer firm Cranepower launched into Australia the CP-300 UPS, which provides intelligent power management for high powered electric construction machinery including tower cranes, hoists and stud welders. Elliot Peacocke provides background to this tower crane generator. 

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The CP-300 works by buffering the intermittent peak loads typical of cranes and hoists, converting them into smaller, more manageable average loads (32A or less). This eliminates the need for large diesel generators or expensive transformer installations on the construction site. Engineered with the latest power conversion and battery technology, the CP-300 packs a serious punch with its 300kVA rated output, powerful enough to supply large tower cranes and personnel hoists. Packaged into a rugged, stainless-steel enclosure with integrated filtration and IP65 ingress protection, the CP-300 is designed to survive the harshest construction sites while supplying clean, silent, zero-emission power. 

The CP-300 is a drop in, plug and play low CO2 Power solution that offers a range of benefits. These include: 

Product Benefits

   CO2 reduction of up to 200 tonnes per year, when replacing a typical diesel generator;

   Ability to be powered from renewable energy sources, either from the grid or generated on-site;

   Regenerative power from cranes can be utilised to recharge the CP-300 battery, rather than being dumped as waste heat from the crane;

   No noise or air pollution, improved working conditions for staff and fewer complaints from neighbours;

   Being made from recyclable materials, with the CP-300 having a 20-year design life and a low environmental footprint; and

   No waste oil, filters, coolant or belts to dispose of during maintenance.

Cost Savings 

   Significant fuel savings when replacing a diesel generator;

   No costly downtime from generator breakdowns or maintenance;

   Very low maintenance costs;

   Expensive and temporary transformer installations no longer needed; and

   Long life, low maintenance asset, low total cost of ownership.

Operational ease 

   The CP-300 is small and portable unit that is easy to install;

   Cables can be unplugged and moved around the site easily;

   Minimal footprint, reducing space required on-site;

   Tower Crane erection does not have to wait for a transformer to be installed;

   Power available 24/7 to power electrical cabinet heaters and illuminated signage on the crane; and 

   Loss of input supply warning, emergency reserve function provides increased safety.

Small Power In, Huge Power out 

   Up to 300kVA output from a 32A input;

   Input power can be limited if required,though 16A is often enough for some installations; and

   Large diameter cable runs can be reduced, the CP-300 can be placed close to the crane. 

The Cranepower CP-300 was developed from Elliot’s experience with diesel powered generators.

Cranepower's emission free tower crane generator, the CP-300.
The CP-300 is a drop in, plug and play low CO2 Power solution that offers a range of benefits. Image: Cranepower

“I owned a company that imported and serviced diesel generators as well as some other machinery into New Zealand. We had diesel generators powering tower cranes, and we were remotely monitoring the data from the generators including the load profile of the cranes,” said Elliot.

“I noticed that most of the time the generator was running, the load was close to zero, and it was only when the crane actually moves that you get a big spike in load. This immediately struck me as a very inefficient way to power an electric tower  crane. 

“Most of the time you are sitting there burning diesel and the crane isn’t lifting.I thought there had to be a much better way involving batteries, inverters and other battery related technology to store the energy and release it when required,” said  Elliot.

“We then secured a project to build the power system for the Rocket Lab launch site down in Mahia. Rocket Lab is a company that builds rockets in New Zealand and launches small satellites into space. It’s the only private space port in the world, all the other space ports are owned by governments,” he said.

“It’s a good place for launching rockets, but it’s a bad place for having a connection to the grid, there’s no power available out there at all. We had to design and build a super reliable power system for their launch site. And we put in diesel generators and a number of battery and inverter systems which had multilayer redundancies, so it was virtually impossible for the power to go off during the launch,” said Elliot.

“While we were working on that project, it got me thinking about the problem of powering tower cranes and how could we design a product that makes this far more efficient. I calculated the average load from a tower crane is actually very low. It might be five kilowatts, 10 kilowatts, even though the crane might need 300 KVA when it’s actually lifting. I sold that business and put all my resources into commercialising the Cranepower product,” said Elliot.

Cranepower designed and built prototypes and used them to prove the theory, and they worked amazingly well, Elliot says.

“Everyone was blown away by the fact that you can run a tower crane from a 32-amp plug and once we’d proven the concept, we launched into designing the CP-300. 

“We completed vigorous testing on the prototypes, and went through several designs, until we arrived at the model we are manufacturing now. Obviously, the CP-300 includes a lot of ‘smart battery technology’ and we assemble and test the units here in Auckland,” said Elliot.

Elliot explains how the New Zealand tower crane reacted to the Cranepower development.

“Initially there was scepticism, with people not believing a small unit could do the job, but as soon as you put the unit on site and it works, seeing is believing,” he  said.

Smith Cranes were Cranepower’s first customer said Elliot.

“Tim Smith said, ‘I want to be the first person to own one of these things,’ and he bought one. That’s been sitting on a site running since the day he bought it and it’s still on site today. The market has been a little slow and cautious, but once people have used the product, they’re never going to go back to using a generator,” he said.

The Cranepower CP-300 provides numerous operational benefits on site. 

Crane operators like the product because it gives them a more secure power supply, and it provides an emergency reserve function so that a load is never stuck on the hook. 

Crane owners like them because the ultra clean power protects the crane’s electronics and having power available 24/7 increases safety and reduces failures as anti-condensation heaters and navigation lights can keep running all  night.

Site managers like them because of the small footprint and that there is no noise or fumes – keeping neighbours and staff happy – and developers like them because they help reduce the carbon emissions of their project.

“It’s smaller, it’s quieter, it doesn’t run out of diesel, it doesn’t break down like a diesel generator and there are no fumes or emissions. There are also financial benefits because it doesn’t require diesel and over the long run, the CP-300 is far more cost effective than running a diesel generator. 

“The CP-300 is a real product with a track record behind it. We have remote monitoring in place, and we have plenty of case studies regarding the power usage on sites. We monitor the data remotely and our machines maintain pretty close to 100 per cent battery level the whole time. Our unit can power any electric tower crane that is in production as well as many older models,” said Elliot.

“We are focused on growing our international profile, we will be talking to tower crane owners and also the tower crane OEMs because ultimately, our product will make electric tower cranes and hoists easier to use.

“Our product is making it easier for construction companies to use these products. Right at the heart of the move to electric tower cranes and hoists are the pressures that are now coming for the construction sector to lower carbon footprints. It doesn’t make environmental or commercial sense to continue to power this equipment with diesel powered generators. Now there is alternative power supply,” said Elliot. 

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