W.A. Pickles is a third-generation, family-owned business and 2020 sees the Pickles family celebrate 60 years in business. Father-and-son team, Wayne and Adam discuss the heritage of the family business and the reasons behind the purchase of the latest crane in their fleet, a TIDD PC28.
Wayne’s father, William Pickles started the business, which was initially focused on transport in and around the Albury Wodonga region.
“He started in the transport business and it soon became apparent to him there was a significant business opportunity with the various builders and projects in the area, and he needed a crane. That’s how we got started. Today, we are still in both cranes and transport,” said Wayne.
The crane business started with a K5, which is still in the yard, and a Granville which was a back ender, says Wayne.
“We used these cranes to service various builders and projects around town. We then went on to purchase an old Aisles Forge which came down from Coffs Harbour and a Southwell out of Camden. We then bought a Coles and in time, we moved on to bigger things,” he said.
Wayne was a round 14 when he joined the business.
“My father was keen for me to keep on with my education. I was in and out of school and working in the business for a while. It was a seven day a week business then, and it still is today.
“We were building the fleet as we went, and as new technology emerged and cranes got bigger and better and more roadable, we moved with the new technology. We’ve had a few pin-jibs along the way including an old Minor pin-jib. These were a lot of hard work. You were working the outriggers by hand and jacking the crane up level. We naturally progressed to hydraulic cranes as the rest of the market did,” he said.
As the capacity of the cranes increased throughout the 70s and 80s the business found itself working on larger scale projects, says Wayne.
“We were working on the construction of large factories and the large paper mill which was built locally. We were also busy with bridge construction. The placing of bridge beams was big business for a long period of time. We were working in a 200km radius of our yard then, but it’s back to around a 100km radius because there are a number of crane companies in this region with similar technology,” he said.
As the business has grown, the Albury premises expanded to accommodate the increasing size of the fleet, says Adam.
“Initially we couldn’t buy the yard directly next door, so we bought the one over from us first and then the one in the middle as time progressed. With the bigger cranes, we like the Liebherr product where we operate a 100t Liebherr all terrain. We’ve also got a fairly new 60t three axle with the VarioBase. We also operate a 55t Tadano truck mounted. The Tadanos have been a really good crane to us. We’ve had four or five Tadanos over a long period of time and they have all been terrific performers,” he said.
“We’ve tried to buy the cranes new as we go and everything in the fleet today, was purchased new. We’ve always had good relationships with the crane OEMs we deal with,” said Adam.
“We bought the 100t Liebherr from Anthony Davis just before GM Baden closed as the distributor for Liebherr. We’ve always found the team really lovely to deal with. If they were still going with the brand, we wouldn’t need to deal with anyone else. That’s why we still deal with Anthony,” he said.
Adam found himself in the family business at a similar age to his father. There seems to be a common story in the crane industry that sons (particularly) and daughters, find themselves working in the family business because, if they didn’t, they would never see their fathers. “That’s a fairly accurate statement,” said Adam.
The TIDD PC28 was recently added to the pick and carry element of the Pickles fleet. Adam explains the thinking behind the purchase.
“As we see it, one of the key benefits is the roadability of the TIDD, but they’ve also included a lot of new technology which we believe advances their pick carry range.
“The boom has a lowered centre of gravity and the width of the crane has been reduced. It’s amazing how flexible the machine is and how easily we can get the TIDD into factories where space is limited, and tolerances are extremely tight. We think the TIDD is extremely well-built machine.
The TIDD PC28 features improved operational function designed to help operators work more efficiently and comfortably on construction sites and also on the road. Increased lift capacity and greater manoeuvrability, in smaller work areas, are key benefits of the new crane. The TIDD PC28 is constructed using the highest quality components with safety a major focus with every element of its design.
Safety features include the Dynamic LMI with a deadlock switch inside the cabin and the LMI bridging switch outside the cabin. Slew Safe is an optional safety addition for the TIDD PC28.
Slew Safe is designed to prevent rollovers and works with a number of features including audible alarms, LMI warnings and power steering is restricted to 15 per cent to reduce further slewing. Slew Safe cannot be over-ridden but will operate normally in the safe direction.
The TIDD PC28 has also been designed with operator comfort in mind.
Many of the key features have been designed based on industry feedback during the TIDD PC28’s development. These features include:
- European standard automotive finish;
- Shortest forward projection in its class;
- An outstanding turning radius, articulating 44° on either side;
- 2.3t roadable counterweight;
- Mercedes Benz DM906 six-cylinder, turbo charged intercooled 205kW diesel engine;
- 6.12-18.65 high-tensile boom;
- Allison 3000 series automatic transmission, 6 speeds forward;
- Kessler high-speed planetary axles with diff lock on front axle;
- Meritor transfer case;
- Two stage engine and exhaust brake;
- 410 litre tank with locking cap;
- Automatically activated emergency hydraulic steering;
- Duel line airbrakes on all wheels with ABS;
- Pneumatically released spring applied emergency/park brake on all wheels;
- Ergonomic ROPs cabin;
- 150kg rated suspension seats; and
- 3 point integrated safety belts.
- The optional features include:
- Slew Safe;
- Traction air tyre pressure management – maintaining 130 PSI at all times;
- 1.1t superlift counterweight.
The new 18.65m high tensile full power boom features a 75 per cent stationary chart for the heavy lifts and 66 per cent pick and carry chart. The boom’s telescope Sections 1 and 2 are fully synchronised and provide hook compensation. Telescope Section 3 is independently operated with its own hydraulic cylinder.
The TIDD PC28 features a 28t maximum lift on the lug and 27.6t on the hook block, delivering lifting capacities for improved efficiency and greater lift options and setting a new benchmark in the industry.
“The backup and support from Anthony and his team is second to none. They are always on the phone following up, asking how the crane is performing. They are checking on us the whole time which is what you need when you invest large sums of money in cranes. They are good people and extremely professional,” said Adam.