There’s a couple of brand new cranes on the scene this year, and it
looks like a game-changer.
Manitowoc have been leading the way in mobile, luffing
pin-jibs for some time, but a simple idea due to be shown off at CONEXPO 2014
is going to make a big splash in the construction game.
Two new cranes, the MLC300 and MLC650, are equipped with a wholly
unique feature that Manitowoc calls Variable Position Counterweight, or VPC.
The idea is as simple and self-explanatory as the name, but
the implications are massive, and could completely change the expectations that
cranes and rigging co-ordinators put on set-up time and ground space
The VPC system automatically positions the counterweight for
the requirements of the lift, sliding along the rotating bed, altering the counterweight
moment to optimise the forward moment of the boom.
In short, the crane’s counterweights are mounted on a track
so they can slide backwards and forwards, and all of this takes place
automatically, in response to changes in the angle of the boom.
The advantages of this system include reduced ground
preparation, lower ground-bearing pressure and less counterweight to carry
around without sacrificing capacity.
Ultimately, crane technicians will not have to transport or
install as much counterweight as usual, compared with a traditional
In fact, aside from the transport costs, and the cost of the
counterweights themselves, there is also a massive saving in the amount of time
needed to change the counterweight configuration.
Rather than removing or loading up on counterweights to suit
a particular lift, the VPC simply adjusts itself to suit the lift, which saves
on time, reduces the risky handling of counterweights, the amount of labour
require to complete the changes, while maximising the capacity of the crane
beyond what could be achieved with traditional counterweight configuration.
With interchangeable left and right side counterweights, the
counterweight boxes are also designed to be common across multiple crane
Manitowoc crawler crane senior vice president John Kennedy
said the VPC system is game-changing technology.
“This new technology will have a significant impact on the
lifting industry, as it enhances crane capacities, reduces mobilization time on
the job site, and in the end, saves customers a significant amount of time and
The MLC300 is a 300 tonner, which comes with 96 m of boom
and has the option of a fixed jib attachment of 30m. A 96m luffing jib can be
added to extend the boom radius to 144m. The MLC650, naturally, has a 650 tonne
capacity with 104m of main boom to which a 30m fixed jib can be added. A 101m
luffing jib can be added for a maximum 157m boom radius.