In August, Newcastle-based Wheeler Cranes took delivery of its second Franna AT 40. General manager Glenn Wilbow explains how the business has grown its fleet of Frannas and the reasons for purchasing the second AT 40.
“We have a large number of Frannas in the fleet as a result of the work we conduct for customers in the Newcastle region,” said Wilbow.
“There is a lot of heavy industry in Newcastle, which requires heavier lifts, and there is always a lot of demand for our MAC 25s, with coal handling plant requiring maintenance and servicing,” said Wilbow.
When Wilbow joined Wheeler Cranes, the fleet included one 18-tonne capacity Franna, two 20t capacity and one standard MAC25. In 2011, the business began adding Frannas, including another MAC 25 and a another in 2012. A secondhand 20t was added. In 2017, the business purchased the first MAC 25 with SuperLift, adding to this in 2018, 2021, and another earlier this year.
Wheeler Cranes purchased its first AT 40 in 2021.
“We started to receive enquiries for lifts that the MAC 25s were going to struggle with,” said Wilbow.
“We obviously knew about the Franna AT 40 and we had cross hired one from a competitor as there was only one operating in Newcastle at the time. We could see the benefit of the extra capacity provided by the model and we could see there would be demand from our customers.
“We purchased our first AT 40 last year and it has been flat out since we received it. It has actually created its own market and there is so much demand for the larger capacity we took delivery of a second unit in August.”
The AT 40 is one of the newest additions to the Franna pick and carry portfolio, incorporating the latest technology with engineering excellence. With a huge maximum lift capacity of 40 tonnes this articulated crane boasts 44 per cent more load moment than the MAC 25. The three-axle design eliminates the need for a removable counterweight and the third axle control system raises axle three when operating on a work site, providing a similar turning circle as the MAC 25. Maximum road speeds of up to 75km/h allows the operator to move swiftly and safely from job to job.
Additional features include a full width isolated cabin, articulating counterweight and increased storage inside the cabin.
First released in 2013, Franna’s patented Dynamic LMI remains as a pillar of safety, underpinning the electronic control and user experience offered today.
The system is designed to offer ‘real-time’ calculation of rated capacity taking into account boom configuration, as well as chassis articulation, pitch and roll, enabling continual assessment of structural limitations, forward stability, and side stability.
Increased resolution of rated capacity is made possible by finer measurement of articulation pitch and roll angles, allowing for improved machine capability compared to previous generation LMI systems. When operated on a jobsite over undulating terrain, the rated capacity will be updated continually, providing instantaneous information on the percentage utilisation of the machine (0–100 per cent of available capacity). When operating on a side slope or undulating terrain, operators are no longer required to manually calculate a reduction of rated capacity – the Franna Dynamic LMI does that.
Wilbow is pleased with the extra capacity provided by the AT 40.
“It is great for the industry to have the larger 40t capacity articulated pick and carry from Franna. The MAC 25s are great machines, but from our perspective I think the capacities have been a little lacking for the type of industry we are servicing. We were often conducting dual lifts when we knew we could have managed with one crane with a greater capacity.
“Obviously, lifting with two cranes adds layers of complexities, with more people involved with the lift, including the operators and dogmen. Having a larger capacity pick and carry helps to mitigate these issues. Our customers have seen the AT 40 in action, and they like what they see.
“With the new AT 40 working flat out, we found ourselves again cross hiring a second AT 40 for some dual lifts. We decided there was going to be ongoing demand for a second unit and we put our name down,” he said.
Wilbow explains more about the customer profile serviced by Wheeler Cranes and the importance of the extra capacity provided by the AT 40.
“Our customers are mainly Tier One and Tier Two businesses. Articulated pick and carry cranes have been involved in unfortunate incidents over the last couple of years and some customers have steered away from having them on site.
“The extra capacity provided by the AT 40 has helped address these concerns, and we are certainly seeing customers more comfortable with the cranes doing what they are designed to do, and that is to pick and carry loads comfortably and safely. We have also brought new customers on board since purchasing the AT 40 which is very pleasing,” he said.