Manitowoc introduces new crawler cranes with breakthrough Variable Position Counterweight (VPC)


New from Manitowoc are two ground-breaking crawler cranes, both making their debut at CONEXPO 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev. The 300 t (330 USt) MLC300 and the 650 t (716 USt) MLC650 are loaded with an array of innovative features, most notably their unique Variable Position Counterweight (VPC).

The VPC system automatically positions the counterweight to fit the required lift. The counterweight moves along the rotating bed and is automatically positioned based on changes in boom angle. Advantages for customers include reduced ground preparation, lower ground-bearing pressure and less counterweight, without sacrificing capacity. Customers will not have to buy, transport or install as much counterweight compared with a traditional configuration. The counterweight boxes are also designed to be common across multiple crane platforms.

“The VPC is game-changing technology,” said John Kennedy, SVP crawler cranes. “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 money.”

The MLC300 features 96 m (315 ft) of boom and has the option of a fixed jib attachment of 30 m (98 ft). A 96 m (315 ft) luffing jib can be added to extend its reach to 144 m (473 ft). The MLC650 has a 104 m (341 ft) main boom to which a 30 m (98 ft) fixed jib can be added. A 101 m (331 ft) luffing jib can be added to reach a maximum 157 m (515 ft).

Both cranes are ideal for energy-related projects, including refineries, petrochemical installations, and power plants, as well as infrastructure applications. The smaller footprint plus the Variable Position Counterweight system enable the cranes to easily move around a job site, and a VPC-MAX capacity enhancing attachment allows increased capacity for heavy lifts that would usually require a wheeled-type lift enhancer.

The VPC-MAX attachment increases capacity and boom and jib combination lengths. The counterweight movement is based on the lifted load, boom length, boom and jib length, and load radius. The MLC300 can raise 120 m (394 ft) of boom with the VPC-MAX attachment and a boom and luffing jib combination of 168 m (551 ft). The MLC650 can raise 140 m (459 ft) of boom with the VPC-MAX attachment and a boom and luffing jib combination of 205 m (672 ft). The MLC650 maximum capacity increases to 700 t (770 USt) with the VPC-MAX installed.

For the MLC300, the VPC-MAX attachment increases the max load moment when a 30 m (100 ft) fixed mast, a VPC-MAX counterweight beam and an additional 40,000 kg (88,185 lb) of counterweight is added to the base crane. The ground preparation area needed for the MLC300 using the VPC-MAX can be only one-tenth of that required by competitive cranes.

For the MLC650, the VPC-MAX attachment increases the max load moment when a 36 m (118 ft) fixed-mast VPC-MAX counterweight beam and an additional 100,000 kg (220,460 lb) of counterweight is added to the base crane.

Because the counterweight attachment of the VPC-MAX on the MLC300 and the MLC650 never touches the ground, higher capacity lifts on barges that customers were never able to perform before are now possible. In addition, with its long reach and high capacity, the MLC650 can install 120 m (394 ft) and taller towers for the wind industry.

Both the MLC300 and MLC650 are designed to be easily transported anywhere in the world with their optimized component weights and dimensions. They have a removable live mast shipping module and their boom inserts are designed to allow luffing jib inserts to ship within them, which reduces shipping costs. In addition, both cranes use Manitowoc’s patented FACT connection technology and are operated via Manitowoc’s Crane Control System (CCS), a standard operating system across several crane models in different product ranges.

Additionally, the MLC300 comes with a crawler tensioning system, a dedicated hydraulically activated cylinder and hydraulic supply that allows independent track tension adjustment via crane setup remote and standard hydraulic connection.

“For both the MLC300 and the MLC650, we interviewed customers around the world,” said Kennedy. “The result is two innovative cranes that are geared toward their needs. Customers will be able to lift heavier loads to higher reaches, reduce the time spent preparing the site for lifts, and ultimately, save money. The VPC’s breakthrough technology will help customers become more dynamic and nimble on the job than once thought possible.”

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