Adaptability nurtures innovation

30 September 2021

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Hi, I'm the new editor of Cranes Today; some of you may already know me from my previous job in the world of crane publishing. Starting a new job at the tail end of a global pandemic is certainly a new experience for me. It's particularly strange as, apart from being lucky enough to continuing writing about cranes and specialised transport, I'm still working from the same (home) office. To mark the occasion I am now sitting on the other side of my desk to provide a different perspective of my working environment...

Time is another factor that facilitates gaining new perspectives. The striking cover image of this issue shows the dismantling of the iconic TCN television transmission arial in Sydney, Australia. In 1965 Marr Contracting helped build it; now the company is helping dismantle it. Fifty-five years ago, though, Marr could never have imagined that it would so soon be dismantling what, at the time, was the cutting edge of technology; or that television would now be largely watched via something called the World Wide Web. Read the full story of The Men from Marr's TV tower dismantling project.

In the tower cranes in mining feature, Henning Köhler, head of tower cranes division at Liebherr Chile, reveals that the first tower crane to replace a gantry crane at a South American mine was just 12 years ago. Today tower cranes are a common site at mines around the world. In fact, they're often one of the first machines purchased by a mining company for a new open-pit mine as it can be used to help with the mine's actual construction and then for further long term maintenance duties.

Narrowing the time frame to four years... This issue's Job of the Month (p8) highlights two freestanding Wolff tower cranes that will remain fully erect for four years in one of the most extreme environments possible: high in the Swiss Alps, near the Grimmel Pass. During this period the cranes may need to withstand avalanches, ice flags and winds of up to 220km/h. In order to do so the cranes have been specially designed and up to ten times the usual amount of concrete used to secure their foundations.

"Everything needed to be recalculated from scratch," explains Rolf Mathys, managing director of Wolffkran Schweiz. "On the Grimsel, we are dealing with conditions that are entirely different from those of a standard construction site.”

Three years; that's how long anti-collision company AMCS has had its anti-collision systems installed in one of the world's largest construction sites: Hinkley Point C.

In the anti-collision sector, particularly, we are also seeing the acceleration in the rate of affordable technology leading to a blurring of lines where traditional control technologies, such as Load Moment Indicators, are starting to incorporate anti-collision features.

Around one-and-a-half years; that's how long the coronavirus has affected global industry and changed our perspective of how we work. Technology has facilitated a transition to home-based working and is testament to mankind's adaptability.

It's this quality of adaptability that underpins much of the content of this issue. It can be seen with Marr Contracting working out how to safely take down a structure that was originally erected without dismantling in mind. “From a design perspective, this has been one of the most complex and unique projects that I have ever been involved with,” says Marr’s design manager, James Hiley.

Wolffkran had to work out how to adapt its two Wolff 1250 B luffing jib tower cranes to withstand four year of harsh alpine winters. And AMCS Technologies has pushed the limits of technology to keep over 3,500 on-site workers safe at Hinkley Point.

We're not just adapting, though; we're rising to the challenges and thriving. Adaptability nurtures innovation. In the Germany country profile (p44), for example, we see turnover and employment rates are up for 2021 compared to last year. It's good news for manufacturers, too. “For our mobile and crawler cranes made in Ehingen we had a great first half year of 2021,” reveals Tobias Ilg, head of marketing mobile and crawler cranes at Liebherr.

Also in this feature we see how German crane rental company Schmidbauer adapted to multiple challenges to lift and transport two reactors weighing 660 and 600 tonnes respectively. In doing so it claims the records for the heaviest road transport and heaviest single lift in Germany.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as I have enjoyed working on it.

Christian Shelton, Editor
[email protected]