An inescapable fact about the construction industry is that there are always rather heavy and at times awkward objects that need to be lifted into their correct position and as this task is usually unachievable by manpower alone, industry workers rely on the assistance of a crane, especially when the building is multi-storied. Actually, even the ancient Greeks, great builders that they were, realised the necessity of a lifting device when working with large stone blocks and archaeological records show that they invented the first crane for lifting heavy loads in the sixth century BC.
Featured Image(above): It’s not a bad view from up there
Wherever there is construction in progress, cranes can be seen and their size and type varies, depending on the application for which they are used. Along with small and medium-sized truck mounted cranes, there are self-propelled models and the extremely capable tower cranes, one of which can be seen at the Midson Constructions unit development site off Benabrow Avenue in Bellara.
This particular example of mechanical ingenuity is a Liebherr 71 EC Tower Crane which features a thirty-three-metre boom and at its current location, the operator’s cabin sits over thirty metres above the ground. The Liebherr company is arguably one of the largest manufacturers of cranes in the world today and has grown exponentially since Hans Liebherr founded the business after recognising the need for tools and machinery in the building industry.
Along with design engineers and tradesmen, Liebherr developed the TK 10 which was the first mobile tower crane in 1949 and as well as being transportable, it was easily set up upon arrival at the site. The company is now recognised throughout the world as the manufacturer of not only a range of cranes but also other machinery including mining equipment, refrigeration supplies and aerospace systems.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Matty, the operator of this tall machine which towers above Bellara and he told me that the Liebherr 71 EC has a number of very advanced features and these include the option of being able to be remotely controlled from the ground and what is called a SMIE System which is designed to prevent a collision with objects such as power lines. ‘Even though the crane can be operated remotely, I still have to go up there to switch it over so I normally stay and work it from the cabin,’ said Matty. ‘It’s not a bad view from up there,’ he added.
He remarked that when the crane is unattended, the boom is always unlocked which enables it to swing freely with the breeze, therefore providing the least resistance to strong winds. Matty said that he and the dogman, Dylan, are employed by Nigel at Elevated Rigging Solutions on the Sunshine Coast which is a company that provides experienced machine operators to sites throughout the region.
He explained that he has worked his way up in the industry, beginning as a rigger/dogman, and he is now in his twenty-fourth year as an operator. ‘I operate all varieties of cranes including mobiles and the tallest job that I have worked on was twenty-four stories,’ he said. The job in Bellara involves building a four-story unit block on top of a ground-level carpark and Matty pointed out that, depending on a few variables including the weather, the completion date is expected to be somewhere around Christmas time.