This $3.2bn project is the largest of over a dozen major dam-building projects in Vietnam and the largest and most complex energy resource venture ever undertaken in South .

Commissioned by Vietnam Electricity Corp., construction of the Son La dam is under the control of main contractor Song Da Corp., a state-owned construction company and the largest contractor in Vietnam. Minh Chi, Manitowoc dealer for Potain tower cranes, supplied Song Da with the cranes for the project, which include two MD 2200s, three MD 900 Bs and two MC 310 K12.

Do Quang Loi, deputy general director of main contractor Song Da 5, said reliability was a key factor in selecting cranes for this job.

“Because of its national importance, we had to have the right crane for the job,” he said. “Having used Potain cranes on other successful dam builds, we know their efficiency and reliability are second to none. Having a permanent on-site technician was an added bonus.”

Five of the cranes, the MD 2200s and MD 900 Bs, have been on site since August 2008. Since their deployment, they have been working constantly, running three shifts, seven days a week. The cranes are mostly pouring concrete and building the dam’s penstock system and water intake. Each of the cranes is operating at a different height, ranging from 56m to 86m. The MD 2200s are working with 80m jibs, and they have a maximum capacity of 60t, while the MD 900Bs are working with 60m jibs and have a maximum capacity of 50t. With a strict construction timetable, productivity and uptime are essential to the project’s success. Therefore, in addition to Song Da’s own team of technicians, Minh Chi provides a permanent on-site technician while Manitowoc Crane Care personnel also visit the job site regularly to ensure the cranes keep running smoothly. Do Quang Loi said he is confident the project would be completed on schedule. “The growing concern over energy is reaching every corner of the globe and here in Vietnam we are tackling the issue headon,” he said. “Being the largest dam in Vietnam, Son La requires the best equipment for the job. Because we have used Potain cranes on other dam projects with great success, we are certain they will keep us on track here.” Located in north western Vietnam on the Da River, the Son La dam will be one of the world’s largest measuring 138m high, 90m wide and close to 1km long. It will have six turbines and require over 3.1 million m3 of roller compacted concrete and 1.2 millionm3 of conventional vibrated concrete. Due for completion in 2012, the dam will provide 9,500GWh in hydroelectric power each year: equivalent to 10% of Vietnam’s current energy usage.

The demanding workload that this size of dam involves is something Potain and their Vietnamese dealers, Minh Chi, are accustomed to. Manitowoc has a specialized division devoted to the design and manufacture of Potain special application cranes used for projects such as dam and bridge constructions or in shipyards for heavy load handling. The cranes are also well suited to high performance concrete pouring through the addition of conveyor equipment, a design feature especially popular in dam constructions.