Australia, Product News

SMC launch new Ranger pick and carry

Specialised Machinery Company (SMC) recently announced the launch of the new Ranger 45 articulated pick and carry crane.

SMC is no newcomer to the design, engineering and manufacturing of mobile lifting equipment. Managing director and founder of SMC Kim Grierson explains more.

“I started designing, engineering and manufacturing tractor cranes back in the early 1980s, building and selling hundreds of GE10 tractor cranes throughout Australia and New Guinea,” he said.

“By 1987, I had designed and manufactured the original Ranger crane. I had been working on the design back in 1984 and we went ahead and started building the Ranger AT15, which was articulated with all-wheel drive and all-wheel steer. 

“10 years later, people were ringing me and asking: ‘Why don’t you build another advanced mobile crane?’ A new true off-road Rhino crane was designed, and a prototype was built but did not proceed as the design was sold off to another company,” said Grierson. 

The design of the Ranger R45 started eight years ago, with the first unit started being built about three years ago.  The R45 was a concept first developed by SMC back in 2005, with the aim of providing a crane that has better capacity, better stability, more boom and more features than any other pick and carry crane on the market. Many crane owners were consulted during the development process. Operators were asked what they want to see in a crane and what capacities they would really like. The new Ranger R45 is the result of this consultation process.

 The design of the new Ranger 45 has always been safety-driven but, at the same time, the team at SMC has tried to provide features others pick and carry cranes don’t have. These include:

• safety and quality

• heavier lift at better distances of 45 tonnes at a 2 metre radius on the hook

• design in the fast-acting outrigger stability system

• heavier 7.5 tonne line pull winch with
six falls, lifts 45 tonnes

• more boom length

• larger, quieter cabin with more leg room

• more interior comfort

• softer ride on the road

• ABS brake system

• more power for better take-off and maintaining better speeds on grade

• larger rigging storage.

When designing a new crane, the design starts at the hook, said Grierson.

“Once we decided on the design parameters, the design started and moved along to create the new Ranger. 

 “Many crane owners and operators raised questions around stability, which has been an issue over the years for many articulated-style mobile cranes. Older tractor-style cranes and current modern mobile articulated cranes all are prone to rollovers.

“Generally speaking, these are not due to the crane or the crane design, but as a result of operator error or poor judgement when operating the crane. We set about designing our unique fast acting, fast set-up outrigger system, which provides better stability and greater operating safety and, at the same time, provides better lifting capacity. Outriggers on an articulated mobile crane in Australia have not been done before and would generally be difficult to fit to existing articulated pick and carry cranes,” said Grierson.

The front outrigger system, front main frame, all the five boom sections have been designed and manufactured with grade 700 high tensile steel.

 The new Ranger R45 provided the perfect opportunity to develop such a concept and build it in to the new design, with various design concepts lodged as patents. The development was not easy as front and rear axle weights had to be constantly checked during design to ensure 12t per axle was maintained. To develop the crane within weight constraints meant the design and manufacture of the Ranger 45 had to be
done using high tensile 700mpa grade steel, such as Bisalloy 80 or Strenx 700, throughout the crane.

 Therefore, the front outrigger system, front main frame and all the five boom sections had to be designed and manufactured with grade 700 high tensile steel. Using 3D modelling the new Ranger R45 started to be developed, incorporating all the design features laid out in the original design brief. 

The modelling allowed the designer to create a higher quality, more efficient, and stronger design using the best materials available for crane manufacture. The shape of the booms was developed with the Ranger’s new bottom-pressed boom shape, providing better compressive strength qualities. Many crane booms are designed with a flat bottom panel generally made from a U-shaped pressing top and bottom. Depending on steel grade and strength, the bottom flange width can, in many designs, call for a much heavier boom design, due to considerations of ‘excess flange’ in the bottom boom flange calculations. This has allowed Ranger to reduce the overall boom package weight by nearly 1.8t.

Again, the Ranger R45 front frame has also been designed using the similar design criteria. By incorporating new modern high strength 700 grade steel into the front frame design, this reduces the fabrication weight by nearly 1.5t, therefore making it a better, stronger product. Incorporating these design attributes gave a finished front end design that is strong, lighter, and more efficient for a modern crane. The rear half of the crane is designed from standard 350 grade steel as weight reduction is not required, being additive to counterweight.

 To combine reduced weight with strength the hydraulic telescopic cylinder barrels had to be designed using high strength, high quality US-made Accellor Mittal hydraulic tube, which has extremely high tolerance combined with consistent high tensile/yield properties, providing consistent Charpy impact test results, which means a better quality cylinder and more efficient design.

In the early design stages, many locally- sourced hydraulic tubes, generally Asian manufactured and imported, were tested and the majority failed SMC’s high design criteria requirements. The Accellor tube consistently returned high quality impact test results at -40c, with over 22 per cent elongation, providing more than 50–60 joules over three test samples. Six equivalent-size Asian tubes were tested and all failed, with poor elongation and poor yield of less than 5 to 12 joules. 

The same design requirements were applied to the boom, front frame and outrigger steels, finally resulting in Australian-made and some Swedish steel being used, due to their consistency in quality and strength. Therefore, quality and safety are in the forefront of new Ranger R45 design said Grierson.

 The new Ranger is the only crane incorporating the new patented outrigger design. The outrigger concept is designed to provide much better stability and safety. 

The R45 can deploy the outriggers quickly and easily to do the majority of heavy static lifts. The outriggers can be deployed for both light and heavy lifts, with the outriggers just millimetres off the ground, constantly providing that safety when required.

“The R45 Ranger has a pick and carry capability of 32 to 35t on tyres, but many crane operators say there are often times when the operator needs to pick up a much heavier load just outside of the pick and carry stability rating and, in many cases, the crane is usually fully articulated,” said Grierson.

“In these instances, the operator can simply drop out the outriggers to the ground, extend the boom to the load, and lift it off the ground. Then, using the boom, they can slowly retract the load back towards the crane and back within its pick and carry radius. Once there, the crane can complete the task safely.

 “The main thrust of the outrigger system is mostly safety-driven but, of course, it increases its lift capacity enormously. The Ranger R45 with outriggers in place will increase the lift capacity by about 30 per cent, with an increased stability of nearly 200 per cent with the outriggers out and down. This means the crane is now stationary and can lift those heavy 40 to 45t loads off trucks or smaller loads much further out at around 2m to 2.5m radius,” he said.

“Once the load is lifted, it can be lowered to a safer handling height and moved back into a pick and carry radius. Then the outriggers are raised to allow the crane to move into pick and carry mode. The outriggers can also be lowered to just 10mm to 50mm off the ground, or to a clearance height off the ground when manoeuvring heavy loads, and this will provide added safety if the pick and carry load does move out of radius. It will slowly rest on the outrigger, stopping the crane from overturning. The operator can then stop and re-adjust the load to a much safer radius and has avoided a dangerous rollover. 

“Most articulated cranes roll over or tip over due to the load being too close to the safe pick and carry rating and doesn’t need much to over balance. The Ranger R45 with its simple outrigger system arrests the load, avoiding overturning,” said Grierson.

 Safety was the main design criteria, particularly safety with loads at a much longer and higher reach. The Ranger R45 has an exceptionally long reach of 25m tip height and has a maximum boom angle of 70 degrees, which allows it to work in and around refineries and construction sites, lifting those loads higher and longer than any other of the Ranger R45 competitors.

Safety was the main design criteria. Safety with loads at a much longer and higher reach. The Ranger R45 has an exceptionally long reach of 25m tip height and has a maximum boom angle of 70°

When working at these heights the stabilising effect of the outriggers come in to play again. Articulated cranes tend to slightly sway or roll when lifting any load this high on rubber tyres. The Ranger R45 is designed to pick and carry the load, with the booms mostly retracted, back to a safe radius and manoeuvre into position and then, raising and extending the booms, aim to position the load at 24m up within a structure. 

During this time, the outriggers can be deployed quickly, providing better stability and safety to the operator, a safer workspace and better safety on site when lifting loads in high, confined areas. The outriggers can once again be fully deployed on the ground or held just millimetres from the ground, meaning that added stability is very close to hand if lifts go wrong.

The Ranger R45 has proven itself to be very useful in load testing. In many cases, when proof load testing spreader beams, the Ranger R45 on outriggers can lift the following (without the 2t or 3t counterweights):
• 45t using the winch with six falls at 2m radius – 8.2m boom length and boom angle of 44 degrees 

   40t using the winch with six falls at 2.5m radius – 8.5m boom length and boom angle of 41 degrees 

   30t using the winch with six falls at 3m radius – 8.9m boom length and boom angle of 39.5 degrees 

   20t using the winch with six falls at 4m radius – 9.7m boom length and boom angle of 36 degrees. 

Safety is the main point to be made here. The Ranger R45, when on outriggers, has been substantially derated to 45t at 2m at which its overturning load is 81t, which is nearly a 200 per cent stability increase.

When on tyres the rating is still reasonable:

   32 to 35t using the winch with six falls at 1m radius. This rating is also with no counterweight added, so when the counterweight is fitted the rating is substantially greater.

   31.5t using the winch with six falls at 1.5m radius on tyres with 0 to 10-degree articulation.  

   27.8t at 40-degree articulation. No counterweight.

 23.3t at 2m radius on tyres, 0 to 10-degree articulation.  

   20.6t at 2m radius on tyres, 40-degree articulation. No counterweight.

   30.9t at 2m radius on tyres 0 to 10-degree articulation with 2t counterweight.

Although the Ranger R45 has been derated or limited to just 45t on outriggers it has almost doubled its stability, which is the focus of safety and stability. Other articulated cranes in the Australian market have greater exposure to rollover, says SMC. 

The Ranger’s outrigger system is positioned almost 1m forward of the axle centre line, which provides an enormous multiplier for stability and security when lifting heavy loads. The Ranger R45 comes with a 2t and a 3t removeable counterweight, which is easily fitted.

 The Ranger R45 has a 240kW (320hp) Mercedes engine and a six-speed Allison automatic transmission to match this increased engine power. It also has a strong, heavy duty, quiet SMC driveline providing durability off-road and smooth, quiet road-tuned soft ride suspension for operation on highways. 

The Ranger R45, with its larger engine, easily accelerates to a comfortable 80 to 90km/h for on-highway running, combined with soft steering and plenty of braking power when required.

 In summary, the new Ranger R45 with extra stability is unmatched, providing a new standard in articulated mobile cranes with its 45t lift capacity
on the hook, fast set-up outrigger stabiliser system providing a significant increase in stability and with features no other crane has. This is combined with a long-reach 25m five section full power boom, more engine power for better acceleration and hill climbing, soft ride suspension, a more spacious operator’s cabin, large storage for rigging, automatic rope compensation on all booms, integrated spare tyre with in-built tyre lifter, and more. 

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