Some time ago, Preston Hire recognised how complementary glass handling equipment would be to its SuperCrane fleet. By combining specialised attachments with experienced engineering services, the Preston Hire crane offering is a powerful service available to the market.
Having recently launched a series of instructional videos relating to its glass handling equipment, Steve Bowden, Preston Hire’s national technical support manager, provides background to Preston Hire’s glass handling capabilities and how the business manages lift planning, lift studies, and engineering.
“We supply the Oktopus brand of glass lifting rigs and accessories nationally to our customer base. At this stage our range can accommodate flat glass panels ranging from 300–1,000kg thanks to the Oktopus models GL-N400-300, GL-LN400, GL-N800, KN-1000, and the GL-CC777600 Manipulator, which attaches to certain Maeda 304 and 405 models. We carefully selected our glass handling equipment based on its merits in terms of its quality, reliability and superb safety standards. Oktopus ticked all the boxes for us and have been a fantastic OEM to work with,” he said.
Additional key features include:
• low weights make it possible to go where heavier machines cannot, due to surface pressure
• equipped with crane arm: manual turning by 360°, in the 90°-grid lockable, manual tilting by 90°
• integrated vacuum gauges and charge meter to monitor the vacuum function and energy supply.
“Preston Hire offers both wet and dry hire of all glass handling equipment. All our cranes have the capability of utilising our glass handling equipment, however, for use of the SuperGlassHandling GL-CC7776000 Manipulator Unit only the SuperCrane 305 and 405 have the necessary attachments for its correct use. Our team will gladly discuss your specific needs and recommend the right machine for the job,” Bowden explained.
“As with all Preston Hire equipment, we have a stringent procedure following OEM guidance for all equipment to be thoroughly checked upon return of hire and again pre-hire. The Preston Hire commitment to safety and quality extends to our entire fleet, including our glass lifting range,” said Bowden.
Bowden goes on to discuss the new glass handling videos the business recently released, the role they play and what they are deigned to achieve.
“Preston Hire wanted to provide detailed instructions for the safe operation of our SuperGlassHandling range to our customers. We could see this would enable our customers to share this information with their teams to increase the number of operators who could use our equipment. We identified that pictures/videos can speak far louder than the words published in an operation manual. So, Preston Hire brought the manual to life,” he said.
Working with the OEM and a videographer, Bowden helped create a series of videos covering all critical points of the safe operation of the SuperGlassHandling units. Each finalised video can be accessed via a QR code that has been placed on the relevant unit, allowing them to be used by multiple customers, operators, and staff, providing real-time, easy to access instructions to help guide and instruct users.
“Each video is roughly six to seven minutes long and you can watch the tutorial in its entirety, or in segments specific to the task you would like to familiarise yourself with,” said Bowden.
“The videos are broken down into key areas including: introduction, components and familiarisations, prestart checks, mounting the extension arms, vacuum system components and operations, lifting your glass element and packing up. Essentially all details from the manual are covered visually with examples.
“Our team can provide links to the videos upon request and when relevant. Adding the QR code sticker to each unit to directly link the user to the relevant video for that model provides a really easy and convenient means of accessing the content, too. We wanted all operators to have these resources at their fingertips when needed. It is all part of our ‘count on us’ attitude,” said Bowden.
Delivering outstanding service to customers has always been a priority for Preston Hire. Beyond attachments and equipment, Preston Hire provides detailed lift studies, lift engineering, and lift plans to customers of its SuperCrane fleet offering, said Bowden.
“We offer all of these services to our customers as we recognise the importance of these additional resources from both a customer service and importantly a safety point of view. Preston Hire have two in-house draftsmen who collectively have over 30 years of experience in the crane industry and endless examples of scenarios and applications they have provided lift planning for. The more significant the lifting challenge, the more they come into their own,” he said.
“If we have a significant amount of work on, we do also have a highly qualified third party engineer who we are able to call on. We prioritise the urgency of the tasks and will always ensure our customers receive this service in a timely manner.”
The programs used by the team vary from crane to crane but mainly utilise the Maeda and Unic OEM outrigger reaction programs, while Cranimax, Liccon Lift Planner, Sany crane customer software, and AutoCAD is also utilised.
“Generally speaking, lift plans are provided at a customer’s request, however we also utilise these resources when a team member identifies a tricky or out-of-the-ordinary lift scenario. The lifting solution is briefed to the sales team, who then takes it to the customer. We always prioritise safety and always take extra precautions and efforts to ensure our customer’s best interests are looked after,” said Bowden.
“Prior to job commencement, the team are in regular contact with the client to obtain all information required and plan accordingly. In the majority of cases we will visit the site ourselves to visualise the approach, delivery area and site conditions. Upon inspection and gathering all required details of the job and applications, the appropriate machine will be recommended,” he said.
Bowden explains how certain criteria determines the lift planning process including the weight of the lift, the complexities of the lift and the condition of the site.
“The weight of the lift is paramount and should be the first question asked. This sets the start point and minimum size of the crane. The complexities of the lift are also key to choosing the correct machine. How high does the load need to be lifted? How far [radius] does it need to go? Are there any obstacles to contend with such as trees, powerlines, walls, ground conditions, etc?
“All of these factors need to be considered in evaluating the correct machine for the project. It is really important that we are provided with all the correct information from the client as to load weights and dimensions,” he said.
“Generally speaking, all jobs are planned in advance, however the complexities and quantity of content will always change from job to job and are tailored accordingly. For example, a top & tail lifting of large pile cages on a Tier 1 project is quite different to lifting a floor beam in a residential backyard, and both require different levels of compliance and consideration,” said Bowden.
Bowden explains how Preston Hire manages the lift planning when the construction site has changed.
“As a project progresses, naturally the site conditions will also change and the lift planning has to be in line with these changes. The obstacles mentioned earlier can come into play and the operators will constantly be changing their methods to suit daily pre-starts, SWMS [safe work method statement] amendments and JSAs [job safety analyses]. If more detailed planning is required, then it comes back
to the office for formal lift planning tobe updated.
“We are generally in constant contact with the client prior to the crane delivery, with the intention of avoiding such events. We also conduct regular site inspections ourselves to avoid any nasty surprises that may not have been mentioned via phone or email communications. It is extremely rare that any delays will occur upon the cranes’ delivery to site,” said Bowden.
“So yes, planning is the key to lifting successfully and safely and we are committed to these outcomes. We have an experienced and well-qualified team of engineers working on lift plans all day every day, and our growing SuperCrane fleet ensures we have the right crane for the job. We always say you can count on us, and we mean it,” he said.