A journey of a thousand miles29 November 2021
To paraphrase ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s well-known motivational proverb: ‘Even the longest journey starts with the first step’. This saying is thought to have originated in the sixth century BC but it also works as a mantra for current times and can be seen as a theme running throughout this issue.
We focus our attention on Italy – a country that was hit particularly hard in the early stages of the global pandemic. Yet the country has travelled far down the road to recovery, as evidenced by the success and buoyancy surrounding the recent GIS show.
Among the shiny new machinery and range-toppers on display at GIS there was a feeling of positivity and celebration from both exhibitors and visitors akin, perhaps, to that feeling a marathon runner must experience crossing the finishing line after a particularly gruelling race. “GIS has been the first live event since Covid-19 first struck, and the feelings are very favourable,” expressed Michele Mortarino, sales manager for Locatelli with typical Italian style and eloquence.
In the rough terrain feature, we present the latest developments in the evolution of the rough terrain crane. As Cranes Today contributor Stuart Anderson notes in his fascinating book ‘Telescopic Boom: the history of the mobile hydraulic crane industry’ the development of the first 4x4 wheel drive rough terrains was seen in the mid 1950s, with cab-down type rough terrains being developed by Austin-Western Company of Illinois, USA. This design proved so efficient, says Anderson, that they remained fundamentally unchanged for 50 years.
Today, however, the latest rough terrains feature all kinds of technology and patented designs that would have been unimaginable back in the Fifties. The 'wheelbarrow' of the jobsite has come a long way, becoming bigger and more useable, with more add-ons for comfort and safety, notes writer Julian Champkin. “It is part of the advance of engineering,” identifies Brain Elkins, Link-Belt's product manager for rough terrains. “Bridge spans are getting bigger, we are building higher, so everything demands heavier picks.”
It's not just the cranes themselves that are evolving fast; the way they are made is changing, too. Japanese manufacturer Tadano’s Kozai manufacturing facility, which opened in 2019 and makes rough terrain cranes, truck cranes, and main parts such as booms and cylinders, primarily for markets outside of Japan, is a good example of this.
Tadano describes it as a “next generation smart plant” that it says is already providing “exponential returns”. The factory utilises data-driven technology to help increase efficiency whilst also meeting sustainable development goals. Read more about this factory.
Another angle on this ‘journey’ theme can be seen in our Job of the Month starting on page 8. It features the latest version of Comansa’s 11LC160 flat top – one of ten bought by UK rental firm City Lifting. The crane was transported straight from Comansa's yard in Spain to the jobsite in Chatham where it is being used to build the final residential units on St. Mary's Island. The jobsite itself used to be a Royal Navy dockyard, and so is also steeped in crane heritage. Alongside all the residential new builds is a preserved portal jib crane made by Butters Cranes (of Glasgow and London) which is well worth a visit.
Of all this month’s content, however, Tzu’s proverb most closely fits with the specialised transport.
Here the metaphorical journey becomes reality, with examples of challenging transportations being undertaken around the world, presented alongside the latest developments in the equipment used to effect such incredible journeys.
Christian Shelton, Editor