Crane manufacturer Artic Crane and hire company City Lifting’s new Raptor 84 folding jib tower crane has been specifically designed for use on constricted jobsites and those where airspace is restricted, like those in a busy city such as London.

The crane’s folding jib permits an out of- service radius of just 4m, compared to 12-15m for luffing jib cranes, says Trevor Jepson, managing director and founder of City Lifting. This is a major benefit for crane companies operating in cities around the UK and beyond, he says, where neighbouring buildings and forbidden work zones can make it, difficult to erect and operate top-slewing and luffing jib tower cranes.

“There’s always a lot of work for a crane that can work in a small space,” says Jepson. “This is the best type of crane for working around restricted airspace and tall buildings.

“There are a lot of big luffers out there, but many of them just aren’t suitable in these situations.”

He adds a lot of the work that the Raptor 84 is ideally suited to is currently carried out by self-erectors, which, again, are not ideally suited to working in restricted airspace. The jib often has to be pulled in, sometimes up to 15 times in a day, to suit the jobsite, and they are more susceptible to strong winds. For the Raptor 84, Jepson says, retracting the jib is a standard job and part of its design, and the crane is more stable in higher wind speeds.

Design benefits
A tight out-of-service radius isn’t the only benefit of the Raptor 84 to the end user, says Artic Crane’s Stefan Olsson. The “thousands of hours spent developing this crane” has resulted in a lifting system that is quick to erect, fast, efficient, precise and comfortable for the operator, says Olsson. “It is very smooth and fast, and very precise as well.”

Using a 30m-high, 1.24 sq m tower, transportation can be minimised to three trailers. The 6m tower sections can be transported eight to a trailer and, once at the site, these sections can then be joined by eight pins and erected in pairs, before the top section, cab, counterweight and boom are added, and the crane is rigged for operation. It is this simple configuration that allows the crane to be erected in around three hours.

The Raptor 84 can luff up to 40m/min, and slew 1.3 revolutions in a minute. The safe working load of the crane is 4t up to 21m radius, 3t at 25m and 2t at 32m. This offers a high load capacity for an articulating crane, says Olsson.

Another plus point is the use of frequency inverters in the drives, Olsson says. Although not new to the crane industry as a whole, this technology has brought about smooth control of a crane’s movements during luffing and slewing, and when lifting loads, important for a crane operating on a tight jobsite.

The movement of the hook along a horizontal plane when articulating, similar to a traditional trolley jib, provides the crane operator with enhanced control over the movement of the hook and the load, says Olsson. It also increases the speed of the crane by reducing the distance the hook needs to travel. For instance, operators of luffers may have to move the hook 60ft to lift a load at a 20ft radius. In addition, a pair of specially designed lights have been attached to the hook to provide the operator with constant illumination of the load when operating in poor light conditions.

And for the operator’s comfort, the cab has been tailored to suit their needs. When the Raptor 84 was first introduced to the UK market, at the Vertikal Days event at Haydock Park, Merseyside in June, the cab was the main element of the crane on display. Cranes Today received a first-hand tour of the structure and its features, including a spacious and flat entrance platform, large cab with easy access, double glazing to control the internal environment, heating and lighting. An auxiliary derrick is positioned outside the cab, which can be used to lift spare parts to the top of the crane, and by rescue services to lower a stretcher to the ground in the event of an incident or accident involving the driver.

Both Olsson and Jepson state that the design principles of the crane are to be supplemented by a quality parts and service network that will keep customers’ cranes operational and of a high value.

“We are offering quality over price, as we want to keep the crane for a long time, and not have to replace it,” says Jepson. “Having a poor crane in a bad market is a recipe for disaster.” Olsson adds that the resale value of cranes is another important reason why Artic Crane has opted for a quality product, supported by reliable parts availability.

Olsson notes that teaming up with City Lifting to offer a spare parts service allows it to guarantee the quality of the service, and ensure customers buying a Raptor 84 can be confident their crane will be well maintained. “It is very good to have City Lifting’s support, as they have lots of knowledge.”

All the elements of the crane are manufactured in Sweden, with Artic Crane using its own facilities and suppliers to provide all the components needed to construct a Raptor 84. This, Olsson says, allows parts to be offered at a reasonable price and ensure the level of service can be maintained to customers.

“We want to produce a more tail or made, hand-crafted product,” says Olsson. “If I’m buying a car, I want to buy the best I can get with my money. We developed the crane as a product we’d want to buy ourselves.”

Fruitful collaboration
The Raptor 84 has been born from the collaboration between Artic Crane, a relative newcomer to the crane market, and the established City Lifting. While Jepson opened City Lifting in 1981, Artic Crane started operating in 2007, offering industrial services to other companies. From this beginning, Stefan Olsson and Henrik Hillerbratt developed the idea for a new type of folding jib crane, which was presented to Jepson and the City Lifting team.

This proved to be a fruitful meeting of minds, and as we enter the new decade, the first Raptor 84 is now preparing to go to work. City Lifting’s fleet already includes more than 70 tower cranes and a number of mobile cranes, and includes older articulating jib tower cranes that predate the Raptor 84. An existing 1968 articulating model from its fleet was still working last year. However, says Jepson, the previous manufacturers of these types of crane are no longer concentrating on them, opening up an opportunity to develop a new breed of articulating crane that can meet the modern demands of a busy skyline and provide a lifting solution for the tightest of spaces.

The first, fully working Raptor 84 articulating tower crane has now been assembled and has undergone testing at City Lifting’s yard in Purfleet, just outside London.

This enabled Artic Crane to make minor adjustments ahead of the Raptor 84’s first commercial job. Olsson says developing and upgrading the crane is an ongoing project, and one that is important to ensuring the end user gets the most from the equipment. “Different people always want different things, and continually ask if they can have this or that,”Olsson says. “That’s why it’s very important to see the crane and make adjustments.” Olsson and his colleagues will return to the UK when the crane makes its work debut in February.

City Lifting has two Raptor 84s in its fleet at present, with a further two on order. The first job for the new crane will be on a residential development in Kilburn, north-west London, says Bob Jones, director at City Lifting. City Lifting has lined up two jobs for the second crane, with one secured because of the unrivalled out-of-service radius, Jepson says. The other job is on such a small jobsite that the crane will have to be stripped down to allow it to be transported into the work area and then reassembled. This will mean the usual three-hour erection time will be extended, but, says Jepson, it is something that has to be done to meet the client’s needs.

Both Jepson and Olsson acknowledge that the market for articulating jib cranes is a niche one, but, says Olsson, they are hopeful that there will be other applications where an articulating jib can come into its own. For instance, says Jepson, the crane could be erected on top of a newly constructed building in order to carry out the final elements of construction such as lifting the materials used in the final phase of the building’s construction. It could also be employed in large industrial facilities.

Olsson adds that Artic Crane is hoping that the future success of the Raptor 84 will allow Artic Crane to grow from a core team of four to supporting a workforce of up to 15. However, he says, Artic Crane has no intention of becoming a rival to established names such as Potain or Comansa, and will work to maintain its objective of servicing a smaller market with a high quality product.

City Lifting is acting as the crane’s sole UK agent, and says it has received a lot of interest in the crane. Olsson adds potential buyers and users are surfacing in Europe and Asia, as more and more people become aware of the potential of using an articulating jib crane.

“This crane is the first of its type in the world,” adds Bob Jones. “We’re pushing it to select contractors working in confined spaces in London.

“There are major companies interested, and they are coming down to our site to look at it. They are very interested in the concept and now want to see it in the flesh.

“We’ve done a lot of pricing for it against tenders. There has been a lot of pricing for projects in West London, around Chelsea and Knightsbridge. Every one of these jobs has airspace issues.

“Contractors have now started to realise the potential for this type of crane, and now want to see it. We want to show the crane’s capabilities and its speed,” says Jones.

“If the crane can do the work, why not use it?” adds Olsson.

“We expect a lot of work for the crane,” says Jepson, “otherwise we wouldn’t be offering it.

“The product is brilliant and will become a recognised silhouette on the skyline, not only in London but other cities as well.”