Liebherr's leaders discuss rough-terrain re-entry

Christoph Kleiner, MD for sales, and Dr Ulrich Hamme, MD for development, at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen, discuss Liebherr’s re-entry into the rough-terrain crane segment

Liebherr’s new rough-terrain cranes — its first in two decades — are designed for ease of use and safety, and will be equipped with Cummins engines and LICCON and VarioBase systems.
Liebherr’s new rough-terrain cranes — its first in two decades — are designed for ease of use and safety, and will be equipped with Cummins engines and LICCON and VarioBase systems.

With its eleven product divisions, the Liebherr Group generated over $9.6bn in 2015 — a 4.7% increase on the year before and a record for the company. The group also reinvested over $780m into its production, sales and service, and expects to invest even more in 2017.

Part of the reason for the strength of this reinvestment is that the Liebherr Group aspires to actively shape its industries and because strength in innovation has always contributed to Liebherr’s success.

A second factor contributing to Liebherr’s success has been the attention it has paid to the industry and its requirements. Christoph Kleiner, MD for sales at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen, Germany, explains: “In our industry of mobile cranes, we still see a sideward movement of the global economy. The main drivers are mostly energy-related projects, power plants, petro chemistry and infrastructure projects.

Liebherr then asked itself what could be done to widen its footprint in the industry from a product perspective in order to build on the success of its LTM telescopic mobile cranes and LR lattice-booms, crawler cranes.

Kleiner explains: “During the last two decades we have constantly developed new all-terrain models to meet market needs and ended up today with an unrivalled range of cranes in this segment, with 22 different models ranging from 30t to 1,200t and from two to nine axles. The same could be said of our crawler crane range from 350t to 3,000t. Today our complete product range consists of 38 different crane types in multiple configurations. By focusing on mainly these two crane kinds LTM and LR we became world market leader in both segments.”

This came at a price, however, as Kleiner notes: “Roughly 20 years ago, we decided to focus on LTM and LR cranes and to discontinue rough-terrain crane production — after 20 years after roughly 430 units had been made in the range of 25t to 80t.”

So during Bauma 2013, Liebherr began to discuss the possibility of making rough-terrain cranes once more with its customers. What came out of those discussions was the idea that if Liebherr could make a competitively priced crane with proven boom systems, ease of use and above all, operational safety, then it might just be a realistic project.

The result of three years of discussions, surveys and deliberations is that Liebherr is returning as a rough-terrain crane provider.

Dr Ulrich Hamme, MD for development at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen, explains: “In future, LRT shall stand for Liebherr rough-terrain.

“The technology and technological basis of the LRT cranes has been derived from Liebherr’s vast pool of mobile crane experience, but specifically tailored to the needs and requirements for rough-terrain cranes. At CONEXPO 2017 we shall present two rough-terrain crane types, in the 90- and 100-tonne classes. Both types are based on the same fundamental technical concept.”

While the vehicle and turntable design of these two cranes are structurally almost identical, they vary in boom length, telescope technology, ballast and lifting capacity.

The 90-tonne version has a 47m-long telescopic boom and a telescope system consists of a two-stage hydraulic cylinder with a mechanical rope extension and 12t of counterweight. The 100-tonne version has a 50m-long telescopic boom with a simple Telematik telescope system. A 14t counterweight provides high stability and 15% more lifting capacity than in the 90-tonne crane. In both machines, boom extension can be preselected based on two different telescope paths on the main boom.

Dr Hamme continues: “These two crane types should meet all requirements for rough-terrain cranes in their class; from off-road pick and carry to flexible operations in large industrial plants. Safety, including safety from ease-of-use, was a focus in development of the new LRTs.”

To provide this safety, both machines are equipped with sliding beam monitoring, systems that automatically detect and set the support state, on tyres or support bases, and detect counterweight attachment – and as the entire counterweight consists of a single slab, the chances of an incorrect ballast arrangement are virtually impossible.

The load chart selection is also simplified, while the telescoping functions in a simple and intuitive manner. Finally, Liebherr’s LICCON computer control system, with its overload protection function, provides constant safety in these cranes both when working with a load and during crane set up.

Dr Hamme adds: “The load chart tables are supplemented with the VarioBase support-dependent load capacities developed for the LTM cranes. This improves the crane’s lifting capacity and protection against overturning.”

VarioBase allows each individual outrigger beam to be extended to arbitrary lengths. The load moment is then limited by LICCON to prevent accidents by human error during the assembly process and when hoisting loads.

VarioBase also increases the lifting capacities when hoisting over the supports — allowing the cranes to hoist loads that would normally be reserved for a larger weight class.

For two-hook operation, secondary hoist gear and the boom nose are integrated into the base unit, and a tiltable double-folding jib can be installed to the telescopic boom. The installation of the folding jib, including its angle adjustment, is also monitored.

Both crane types are powered by Cummins diesel engines, with Tier III versions in the pipeline for the Middle East — which is one of the regions where Kleiner expects the LRT range to present the most opportunity.

A six-gear Dana powershift transmission and large surface 29.5 R25 tyres ensure the off-road driving capability, at a maximum speed of 25 kmph, with different steering programmes — including all-wheel and crab steering — for easy handling and manoeuvrability in all conditions. The curb weight for both machines is below 40t.

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