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Liebherr launches massive crawler crane

German crane manufacturer Liebherr has revealed its new crawler crane, designed to take on some of the world’s largest construction projects.

The LR 13000 has a maximum lifting capacity of 3,000 tonne at 12 m outreach, which Liebherr director Wolfgang Beringer says will prove essential in constructing nuclear power stations.

“With the latest generation of nuclear power plants in particular, the lifting of extremely heavy unit items is an essential,” he says. “Added to this is the fact that pre-assembled modules increasingly require lifting as complete units, which again drives the unit weights upwards. In refineries, too, there is a growing demand for industrial columns to be set up which weigh 1,500 tonnes and reach 100 m in length.”

The LR 1300 provides a maximum system length of 246 m, which is achieved in the configuration of a 120 m main boom and 126 m luffing fly jib, resulting in a maximum hook height of 240 m. A new boom system provides flexibility, with the main boom and the luffing jib allowing for four different boom systems to be combined - light, medium heavy, heavy, and super-heavy, depending on the operational requirements.

No need for ballast

Liebherr says it is the only crawler crane in its size class that can work without derrick ballast. Liebherr developed a slewing ring in-house, which the firm claims can transfer higher torque compared to ringer systems on the crawler travel gear. To achieve the best possible lifting capacities without a derrick ballast, the standard slew superstructure ballast is raised from 400 tonnes to 750 tonnes. The company says this means that the crane can be used universally in the part-load range when the maximum lifting capacities are not called for on a particular site.

Mr Beringer concedes that the current economic situation might not be particularly conducive to investing in such a large crane, but he says a bright future lies ahead. “We see a good market for such a machine, as many large energy projects, such as nuclear power, are receiving approval from governments and public authorities. Big energy groups are pushing these projects,” he says. “At the same time we are confronted with competition in the large crane segment.”

Despite the crane being larger than anything else in the Liebherr range, Mr Beringer says that there will not be a need to significantly retrain a crawler crane operator to use it. “The handling of the LR 13000 is basically the same as on our other crawler cranes. It’s just this crane is larger,” he says.

Transportation

Solving the issue of transporting the crane components has been a major challenge, particularly given that the LR 13000 has an operational weight of 3,500 tonnes. The crane has been designed in such a way that no individual component weighs more than 70 tonnes. Most of the components can be transported in packs 3.6 m high and 4 m in wide.

The tracks, weighing 82 tonnes, can be taken off and dismantled to be transported in containers. The 128 tonnes of the track carrier is divided in half, and travels on two low-loaders. The slewing ring, 4.5 m wide, is transported in a diagonal position, so as not to exceed a width of 4 m. The ballast slabs, weighing 25 tonnes, are made of reinforced concrete for reasons of costs. They have exactly the dimensions of a 20-foot container and can be loaded with a spreader.

Hitting the market

Although Liebherr has revealed the machine, contractors will have to wait to get their hands on the equipment. Mr Beringer says that the testing on the LR 13000 begins this summer. “After that, the first unit will be available from early 2011,” he says.