Liebherr has a city crane concept and a sideways superlift-style boom attachment on its drawing boards.

Friedrich Bär, managing director of Liebherr-Werk Ehingen, told Cranes Today at the Bauma fair last month that Liebherr would have its sideways superlift attachment available for customers in October this year. Development of the single cab mobile city crane will take rather longer, however. Liebherr plans to show it at the 2004 Bauma.

Both developments appear to follow the lead of arch rival Demag. Demag introduced the Sideways Superlift attachment at the start of the year and showed it on a 500t AC 500 at Bauma. Demag says that it has protected its designs, raising the prospect of another patent dispute between Liebherr and Demag. Last year Liebherr forced Demag to redesign its single pin boom pinning mechanism after demonstrating that Liebherr’s design rights had been infringed.

Bär said that Liebherr would use a different design, but added: “Our lawyers can find no registration of Demag’s patents.” Asked why Liebherr was following Demag with this development, Bär said it was in response to requests from customers who want to buy a 500t Liebherr but want an attachment to enable them to compete with Demag owners in the wind turbine erection business.

Bär also said, though, that many customers with larger fleets were unconvinced by the whole concept, since it is easier to send an 800t crane to a job than a 500 tonner with Sideways Superlift. While Demag’s attachment gives impressive chart enhancements, particularly at near vertical boom angles, it requires separate transport to get to site and thus makes logistics more complicated.

Liebherr’s decision to compete in the city crane market is a surprise. Previously Bär has said that the volume of sales of Liebherr’s conventional two-axle LTM 1030/2, rated at 35t, showed that there was no need to develop a Demag AC 25 look-alike. Furthermore, technical director Ulrich Hamme seemed strongly opposed to the single cabin concept for on-highway driving. He has said that operators do not like driving this type of crane.

Demag’s continued success with city cranes appears to have persuaded Liebherr to change its stance. Demag brought out the 25t-rated AC 25 in 1997 and the 40t AC 40-1 the following year. Since then, Demag has sold about 300 units of the AC 25 and about 350 of the AC 40-1.

Bär, who says he was “not so dead against” city cranes, said that Liebherr’s city crane woul be an alternative to the the LTM 1035/2, not a replacement. The basic appearance would be the same as the Demags, he said, but it would have different features. “We will go to it in a different way,” he said.

Bär said it was unlikely that Liebherr would follow Demag all the way up to 60t in the city class. “I think it needs two cabins at 60t,” he said.

5 Liebherr has also produced preliminary details of a new 300t crawler crane, the LTM 1300/1, to go head to head with Demag’s CC 1800/1, launched at Bauma.