04/10/2006 - 05:00 am

MCG Reaches Higher Highs in Unveiling Revolutionary Crane Technology

A “new paradigm in lifting” may well be Manitowoc Crane Group's moniker for the new GTK 1100, a Grove model that factors the best qualities of today's major crane types into a completely new concept in crane engineering. The result is a niche product designed for high lifts in tight spaces. The yet-to-be-classified unit was unveiled in mid-September at the company's factory in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

With European wind applications as the impetus for the crane's design, MCG sees its potential as a tool for wind and petrochemical applications, as well as urban settings where height is critical and footprint is limited.

“It will definitely have applications for wind farm installs and repairs,” says Tom Cioni, Director, Worldwide Marketing Communications for MCG, Manitowoc, Wisc. “Wind applications were the original thought behind it because of the specific needs of wind farms. It's a concept in early launch, but customers we've talked to are interested in it for other markets.” It's expected to be popular in Europe, but will be sold in the U.S. in the future.

The crane consists of a six-section telescopic mast which extends upward more than 250 feet and is topped with four spreaders attached via pendant links to four outriggers. The outriggers provide strength and stability at the base of the crane while a telescopic luffing boom mounted at the top of the vertical tower offers height. When the luffing boom is fully extended, the GTK 1100 has a maximum lift height of more than 450 feet.

Requiring little room to set up or disassemble, the crane's engineering and mobilization features are suited for work in congested urban areas, according to materials released by MCG in late September. It sports the quick-assembly qualities of a Manitowoc lattice-boom crane, the self-assembly and self-erection features of a Potain tower crane, and the telescoping boom capabilities of a Grove mobile crane.

Instead of competing with such height-enhancing models as the 400-ton Manitowoc 16000, which itself has been used on wind farm projects this year, the GTK 1100 compliments the company's matrix of crane products, says Cioni. The new technology has both advantages and disadvantages over mobile and crawler cranes, he adds.

“It definitely will offer something more efficient than the 16000 in some applications,” he says. “As a crawler, the 16000 has the ability to move around a jobsite. If you're job is to pick and carry, you need a crawler.” But, he points out, the GTK 1100 offers height, capacity and minimal footprint.

“This model has good capacity and more height. A very efficient crane to transport and set up, it offers rapid assembly, disassembly, and repositioning for the next task.”

Engineered for efficient transport, the crane is designed to be delivered to the jobsite with as few as four trailers. That alone means more productivity and lower cost of ownership for the right application. “Its benefits are evident to people in the lifting industry,” says Cioni. “They see the opportunity to be more productive as they own and rent this new technology.”

Although it's too soon to talk about orders, prototype release for the GTK 1100, which was on MCG's “front burner” over most of 2006, is projected for the first half of 2007. It will be introduced in Europe first because that is where the crane is being manufactured. MCG's product announcement predicts “further exposure” around the time of the April Bauma trade show.

MCG expects to see the crane working in the field before the end of 2007. Certain components, such as the bottom outriggers, have already been completed. Right now, the company is putting the new technology through its paces to determine main capacity, erection times, module weight • and what kind of crane they've engineered.

“We've badged it as a Grove crane and we're beginning to come to terms with what this new technology means,” says Cioni. “We've been calling it 'a new platform' or 'a new paradigm' in lifting. One of the neatest aspects of it is it absolutely borrows technology from all of our major crane platforms.”

Therein lies the problem for MCG: What to call it. And, what a problem to have: “We find ourselves in an exciting situation,” says Cioni, “where we've merged the strength and capability of all three crane platforms. And that makes it a challenge right now to say which type it actually is.”

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