Mini-Cranes Find a Favored Place in Industrial Applications

Relative newcomers to the North American industrial scene are mini-cranes. Collapsing to a size that is small enough to fit into an elevator or through a door, these compact machines are offered with variable power options for fume-free indoor operation. They are simple in design and operation and, with remote control features, they allow the operator to get close to whatever is being picked or placed – another reason they’re making headway in the industrial market.

A lot of times, you have to have a 200-ton crane to reach out and over a building or structure in an industrial application to make a pick, says Randy Huffman of Custom Service Crane Inc. , Mahomet, Ill. His rental house’s fleet includes two mini-cranes for use in industrial applications. “They’re not going to do everything for you, but they sure are a handy alternative,” he says.

Huffman, whose company carries two of the Jekko models in its regular fleet, especially likes them because the operator can work right next to the load. “The mini-cranes offer a footprint that allows the customer to be closer to their work than usual,” he says. “This ultimately has a cost savings because some of this type of work would have to be done with chain falls or a larger crane from outside of the actual work area.”

With an optional self-propelled drive, the Boecker trailer crane can easily be driven into an atrium, for instance. “In Florida, we have a lot of high atriums inside buildings,” says Wayne Morris of Randall Rents of Florida. An optional personnel basket may be swapped for the crane hook to lift personnel up to 75 feet high, he adds.

Randall Rents took delivery of its Boecker trailer crane after ConExpo last March. Because the rental house is primarily using it as a bare-rental taxi crane, they also like its various optional outrigger settings “and the crane’s ability to automatically decipher outrigger configurations and adjust its load chart accordingly,” Morris says.

Boecker

The new 3,300-pound capacity Boecker AHK 30/1600 aluminum trailer crane was introduced to the North American market this fall by CraneTech Solutions. The crane is designed for sites that are short on space and it has been garnering attention from end users who want to work frugally and efficiently.

“The response is growing,” says Robert Kohler, vice president of the exclusive Boecker distributor, located in Portsmouth, Va. “People are looking for more cost-effective ways to run their businesses, and if a crane can do the job at a lower cost, it just makes sense.”

The crane was introduced by Boecker to fill an application niche where larger cranes would be too big, too heavy, or too expensive, says Kohler. Mounted on a trailer, it requires no CDL to transport, and it is targeted toward smaller jobs that require less capacity but more reach. Its 100 feet of hook height gives it advantages in industrial settings.

The AHK 30/1600 is equipped with a 20-hp Honda gas engine, but electric power or propane options are also available. The engine maximizes the crane’s turning, telescoping, and hook speeds with less fuel consumption, while it requires minimal maintenance, according to Boecker. The crane also has a state-of-the-art PLC intelligent load control, which automatically calculates maximum load and position limits. Its aluminum mast system is built from closed, high-strength alloy aluminum for maximum longevity, and accessories include an auto-mechanical dump bucket, working personal cage, pallet forks, tipping troughs, and tile grabs.

Spydercrane

Oil refineries and chemical plants use the UNIC mini crawler from Spydercrane for changing out pumps and valves in minimal access areas as well as more open workspaces. The versatility of this machine, as well as the fact that it is small enough to be transported on a freight elevator, makes it a favorite along the U.S. Gulf Coast, reports the Tempe, Ariz., company.

The Spydercrane’s variable power modes also complement its ability to work in all types of indoor, outdoor, and underground industrial environments, says David Smith, director of sales and marketing. The mini-cranes are available in gas, gas/propane, gas/electric, gas/propane/electric, diesel, and diesel/electric power options, which allow the Spydercrane to fit many different industries, Smith says. They include plant maintenance, construction maintenance, building maintenance, underground mining, pulp and paper mills, and electric power plants.

“The Spydercrane is capable of multitasking as a crane, single-person work platform, glass handler, and pneumatic drill handler,” he continues. “Milar non-marking tracks are also available.” Radio remote control with trigger-activated infinitely variable controls capable of simultaneous function control is standard, enhancing many lifting procedures that allow the operator to utilize crane functions in a safe proximity while maximizing visual contact with the load.

The mini-cranes outrigger configuration allows the machine setup to conform to the different obstacles that may interfere with a traditional carry deck crane. Equipped with a patented “Turn Over Protection System,” the design provides a safe operating condition no matter what outrigger configuration is used. “There are 52 different outriggers configurations that can be utilized, further enhancing the machine’s versatility,” says Smith.

The Spydercrane model UR-W295 series has a 6,575-pound capacity at 4.6-foot radius. At press time, the manufacturer was set to launch the UNIC series UR-W370 series, offering the same capacity at a greater radius (8.2 feet), a wider transport width, longer boom, and an increased GVW, according to Smith.

“The UR-W370 series are also specifically designed [for] minimal access areas with an overall travel width of 4.33 feet,” he says. The machines are also available in different configurations including gasoline, gasoline/electric, gasoline/propane, diesel, and diesel/electric.

Read Part 1 on the Jekko and Maeda mini-cranes.