Australia, Product News, Reduced Emissions

Select add two 250t Liebherr unplugged crawler cranes

Select Plant Australia has brought the first electric Liebherr crawler crane into Australia, utilising experience from its sister companies in the United Kingdom to ensure it could adequately support the addition.

Select Plant Australia recently took delivery of two 250t capacity all-electric Liebherr LR 1250.1 unplugged crawler cranes, the first to arrive in Australia.

With over 30 years of global experience, Select Plant Australia delivers various innovative, sustainable and high-quality construction solutions. With its industrial transportation services and depots in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, Select delivers plant and site set-ups to every corner of the country. 

Select offers a comprehensive range of services, from plant hire to logistics, which includes transport management and safety compliance, as well as Site Solutions, which supplies and installs on-site accommodation facilities. Select primarily caters to the construction, civil engineering, rail, infrastructure and utilities industries. By keeping up with the latest technological developments, Select provides its customers with the most advanced and cutting-edge solutions, as evidenced by its recent purchase of Liebherr’s electric crawler cranes.

Select’s crane fleet

Select manages a fleet of crawlers, mobile, tower cranes and access equipment. Its mobile and crawler cranes range from 60t capacity rough terrains up to 350t capacity crawler cranes with Superlift capabilities. The range of tower cranes varies from small, flat-top type hammerheads to larger capacity luffing cranes. 

Select’s crane fleet is predominantly utilised in the building and infrastructure sectors and more recently, in the resources sector, in the Pilbara and Goldfields of Western Australia.

The majority of Select’s crawler crane fleet consists of Liebherr cranes with capacities ranging from 60t to 350t and has been bolstered by the addition of the two new 250t electric crawler cranes.

The crane provides great flexibility operating either plugged or unplugged.

Sustainability is the target

Select Business Unit Leader Nathan Mitschuinig explains why Select purchased the Liebherr unplugged crawlers.

“We brought the Liebherr crawler unplugged range on board to lead the market towards a sustainable future. Working hand in hand with our parent company Laing O’Rourke, we are committed to achieving net zero operational carbon emissions (Scope 1 & 2) by 2030 and net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2050,” said Nathan.

“We have invested in building a modern, innovative and environmentally sustainable fleet that includes electric, solar and hybrid-powered solutions. We already have two site compounds operating off solar power, and our fleet is growing weekly with low and zero-emissions plant.

“The Liebherr LR 1250.1 unplugged will play a role in helping us achieve our net zero targets,” he said.

Electric versus diesel

One of the main reasons Select purchased the LR 1250.1 unplugged was to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to clients, allowing them to contribute to lowering emissions on  site. 

“The Liebherr electric crawler made economic sense for the team at Select as lower fuel expenses and maintenance costs are a major plus for our clients. The electric crane is noticeably quieter than the diesel version, which is an excellent advantage for metro projects as most construction sites want to lower their noise pollution for the surrounding community,” said Nathan.

“As with most electric vehicles, the initial cost (for now) is more than that of their petrol or diesel equivalents. However, the complete reduction of diesel fuel requirements and lower services played a large part in Select’s decision-making process.

“Financially, we have a clear return on investment expectations from capital expenditure – this shifts the decision-making towards justification against market rates for traditional assets. We considered both the reduction in mechanical maintenance as well as the performance unknowns of the battery-powered asset in the Australian environment when measuring its return on investment,” said Nathan.

The company turned to its colleagues at Select Plant Hire in the United Kingdom to provide a level of reassurance and expectations of performance and productivity of the Liebherr LR 1250.1 unplugged. The crane offers immediate benefits such as producing zero emissions and very low noise levels, while its battery and electric power make Select’s clients less susceptible to fuel price fluctuation. In the long term, it is expected to save on running and maintenance costs compared to the diesel equivalent and a reduction in carbon emissions. 

Zero emission equipment in Australia

Whilst Australia currently has no requirement to have zero emission machinery on site, Select is passionate about innovative and sustainable solutions. Select recognises the importance of reducing its environmental footprint and wants to contribute to a more sustainable future, while setting a benchmark for the construction plant hire industry in our region. 

“Public sector ambition for emissions abatement coupled with high investment in infrastructure across all states sees the need for more sustainable equipment fast approaching. The current scarcity of zero and low emissions products in the domestic construction market and a high barrier to entry for these assets made the Liebherr unplugged a smart investment for Select,” said Nathan.

Select Plant Australia prides itself on market differentiation through its modern and sustainable fleet and solutions offering. The LR 1250.1 unplugged is a flagship product in the fleet and signals serious ambitions to be the provider of choice to the Australian construction market.

“Select will encourage users to charge the crane with Greenpower offset mains electricity or renewable power on remote or off-grid sites. We currently use mains power which Greenpower offsets in our yards but plan to install solar in all of the depots to ensure the crane is as green as possible,” said Nathan. 

“For our team, the shift to the Liebherr unplugged range will be simple – with the same systems throughout – the only difference from other Liebherr crawlers is how it is powered.

“On a typical day, the crane can be operated for eight hours without the need to be charged. Although charging instead of refuelling may be unfamiliar to some operators, it is expected that the plant hire industry will move towards electrification and embracing this change will become second nature.

“The recommendation is to work with the crane plugged in for the battery’s longevity and to produce a higher output. Cranes of this size typically work in one area, and with the correct setup it can easily operate whilst plugged in,” he said. 

Select expects the LR 1250.1 will run just as well as its diesel equivalents. It already has electric and hybrid plant and equipment in the fleet, and they provide their diesel counterparts a run for their money. 

“We know that there will be some challenges with accessing electricity to recharge the crane batteries in remote locations. However, we are confident that we can work closely with clients and create customised solutions for each situation. For example, Select is currently working with a client who will have the crane plugged in 24/7 for maximum operation, so we are creating crane pads for the area it will be working in.”

Features of the LR 1250.1 unplugged 

The Liebherr LR 1250.1 unplugged won the European Association of Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes (ESTA) Awards of Excellence in 2021. This is recognised as the leading award event for the European crane and heavy-lift industry. During the online event, Liebherr-Werk Nenzing GmbH won the top award in the category ‘Innovation Manufacturer’. The LR 1250.1 unplugged – the world’s first battery-powered crawler crane was the award-winning product.

The LR 1250.1 unplugged is driven by an electric motor with a power rating of 255 kW. There are no compromises at all regarding its performance of the unplugged crane when compared with the conventional version, and it has a maximum lifting capacity of 250t.

The blue accent in the colour composition, which lends the distinctive look to the unplugged series, symbolises the electric solution representing an advanced technology. The unplugged cranes achieve the best possible combination of operator benefit, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.

The model is emission free and a has a very low noise level. That is a huge advantage in areas sensitive to noise, and also for the people working on the jobsite. 

The crane can be recharged on a conventional jobsite electric supply (32A, 63 A) in 4.5 hours and optionally with 125 A in 2.25 hours. The capacity of the battery is designed for 8 hours lifting operation. In accordance with its name, the crane can be operated with or without a cable, hence the ‘unplugged’, thanks to the battery-electric drive design. 

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