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Potain Tower Cranes – Expert Advice on Truss Lifting

Hydraulic trucks, telehandlers, boom trucks, forklifts or cranes can all lift a truss, but when placing it you want the machine hoisting it to be as precise and nimble as possible.

Builders across the U.S. are taking notice of how Potain self-erecting cranes can make their jobs easier and more efficient, said David Polce, regional business manager of Potain tower crane products for the Eastern and Southern parts of the country.

When operating a self-erecting tower crane to lift a truss, selecting the height under hook — the distance from the ground to how high the building will be — is crucial.

“That’s going to vary because you need to leave about 25 ft below the hook where you’re rigging, in the span of how long your truss is going to be, so it can pick it up securely and evenly and move it across the area of the jobsite,” Polce advised.

He added that crane operators need to consider the size of the truss or panel and the conditions outside.

“You want to factor in the wind that is going to be pushing against that object you’re moving,” Polce cautioned. He mentioned crane operators are always looking at the size and type of the truss, panel or wall. Some pieces are determined as “fully dressed,” which is a solid object, or as “open,” where wind can pass through in between its parts.

“We measure the panel (or truss) size in meters squared and look at how far it’s being moved across a certain area, which is the radius, and the width,” Polce said. “We then take that into consideration, and we have like a ‘tic-tac-toe’ (noughts and crosses) chart in our manuals that shows you at what wind speeds you can efficiently move that panel to where it needs to be.”

He adds this practice — using load charts for crane-user recommendations — works as a guide for lifting both panels and trusses, and that it’s the biggest metric to look at.

Take measures to prevent trusses sailing away from a crane. “Everyone thinks it’s the weight that’s the biggest concern. When the truss starts sailing away from you and starts swinging, or even trolleying, that can take the crane and lift you off your foundation and tip over.”

He warned you don’t want the load taking control of the crane, instead of the crane controlling the load.

Solving truss challenges with cranes
Polce said using self-erecting tower cranes to hoist trusses completes these tasks faster and more efficiently. But the challenge, he added, is coordinating which builders get the crane and when. He said it’s important the general contractor factor in a self-erecting crane as part of the bidding process to take full advantage, and reap cost and time savings, of using this type of equipment to manage the whole job. He can control who uses the crane and when. In doing so, he can keep track of how the work is progressing.

Polce reiterated that smaller cranes work on post-frame projects. Many jobsites require working in tighter spaces with limited room for truss-lifting machinery. “That’s the benefit of using the ‘MA or HUP series’ cranes; you can put these in tight places,” Polce said. “Operators can put these cranes into those smaller spaces and reach the backside of the structure where trusses need to be placed. Many of these post-frame projects are custom homes built into the side of a mountain (for example) or on a 30-degree slope where it is impossible to use (road) a telehandler and move it in position to set trusses.”

Compact cranes are also ideal for framing homes in residential neighborhoods or in remote areas with limited yard space. “The benefit is that these cranes stand right beside the building and [hoist and jib] goes up and over instead of a mobile hydraulic boom truck or where it has to ‘square it out’ and reach at an angle,” Polce explained.

These “mini-cranes” can complete truss lifting and placement for two side-by-side houses at the same time without moving. Multiple configurations on the cranes give the operator more lifting options to place trusses of varying sizes and weights into place. In addition, these are “taxi cranes,” as Polce calls them, that can lift A/C units as easily as larger trusses, performing three to four jobs a day completing homes or apartment complexes.

Making the jobsite more efficient
Polce said using compact self-erecting cranes to hoist trusses makes the jobsite more operational and efficient. Many use telehandlers to place trusses in pole barn frames with workers helping on scaffolding.

“These buildings are 80 ft to 100 ft and they put them up very rapidly,” Polce said, adding this kind of combination is not ideal when lifting trusses into place. “You’re putting in one truss after another. I’ve talked to many pole barn builders and the disadvantage they say is that they’re not very high up, usually one story.”

He adds they’re then driving that telehandler down 80-100 ft and there may be no integrated counterweight to distribute weight evenly for balance. This feature is designed and built into many small, self-contained or self-erecting cranes with these movements while hoisting in mind. The telehandler is moved often to reach another area where the next truss goes in. The smaller cranes have greater reach and don’t have to be moved, so the hazard of moving machinery around several times is eliminated.

Polce said the crane becomes the centerpiece of a post-frame job and a contractor can eliminate the use of several telehandlers or other heavy-lifting tools.

“The crane ‘runs’ your jobsite for you,” he said. “These may be controlled remotely too for even more convenience. The operator on top of the building is free to move, setting the trusses in and putting loads down. The crane can place in other materials before the trusses are ready, staying steps ahead to increase efficiency and finish a post-frame structure faster.”

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Tower Crane Solves the Problem

Challenge: Limited reach and lift capacities of traditional equipment
Solution: With outstanding up-and-over reach, increased capacity, and remote control, Potain’s self-erecting cranes can provide efficiency and access to the entire jobsite. That means less time tied up in material handling planning, and more time focused on lifting and jobsite productivity.

Challenge: Jobsite congestion
Solution: Potain self-erecting cranes have a small footprint, which can effectively reduce traffic and clutter on the jobsite. They are quick to set up and erect, and no assist crane is required. They also handle the work of multiple mobile machines, which means fewer vehicles are needed on site.

Challenge: Multiple lifting tasks and labor delays
Solution: A Potain self-erecting crane is the ultimate jobsite tool. One piece of equipment can replace other specialized types of machines. In residential construction, for example, a single crane can handle masonry, concrete, floor joist, prefab wall, roof truss, roofing, and hardscaping applications. In addition, Potain self-erecting cranes also minimize the amount of workforce labor required, limiting issues caused by worker shortages.

Challenge: High costs of foundation prep and jobsite restoration
Solution: Potain self-erecting cranes can be installed without costly engineered foundations and leave the jobsite with nothing to clean up and nothing to resurface. Faster in, faster out. Meaning you can get moving to the next project without delay.

Challenge: City restrictions and environmental issues
Solution: Potain self-erecting cranes operate from site power, generator, or multiple means of AC power source. Electric power means no loud engines, exhaust, DEF, or noise issues. As urban jobsites become increasingly restrictive in terms of machine permits and developers look to more sustainable construction processes, Potain self-erecting cranes help you stay ahead of the game.

Challenge: High machine maintenance costs
Solution: Potain self-erecting cranes help reduce the total cost of ownership for machinery. They have fewer wear items and require less maintenance than combustion engine-powered equipment. That keeps your focus on the project, and not on the service team.

All State Crane and Rigging Self-Erecting Tower Crane
All State Crane and Rigging Top-Slewing Tower Crane

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The Importance of Cranes

Heavy lifting equipment is a vital component of any construction project in a variety of industries. The capacity and capabilities of these machines are unmatched in terms of strength, speed, precision and safety.

Cranes play a crucial role in the construction industry, providing the necessary lifting power to move heavy materials and equipment.

These machines are designed to handle massive loads with precision and efficiency, making them indispensable in infrastructure projects.

This blog post will shed light on the importance of cranes and how they are utilized in various infrastructure projects.

The Importance of Infrastructure Projects
Infrastructure projects play a crucial role in the development and growth of societies.

They encompass a wide range of construction and engineering endeavors that are essential for the functioning of our modern communities. These projects include the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, dams, water supply systems, sewage and waste disposal facilities, communication networks, and more.

In 2021 President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to provide funding for current and future infrastructure projects. With this large long-term investment, comes the need for heavy lifting construction equipment to execute the projects.

The Role of Cranes in Infrastructure Projects

Cranes are often the backbone of any major construction project. Their ability to lift and move heavy materials and equipment makes them invaluable in various construction tasks.

Cranes provide the necessary strength, precision, and versatility required for these projects, allowing for efficient and safe operations. They are designed to handle heavy loads and can reach great heights, making them ideal for the construction, maintenance, and demolition of structures in various infrastructure projects.

Whether it’s building bridges, erecting communication towers, or excavating and preparing sites for construction, cranes are a vital piece of the puzzle. Their importance cannot be overstated in completing these projects.

Infrastructure Projects That Utilize Cranes

Cranes are essential for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure projects, from dams and water supply systems to bridges and military bases. Their strength and reach make them invaluable assets in these projects, allowing for efficient and safe operations.

Civil Projects
Civil projects encompass a wide range of construction projects that involve the development, maintenance, and improvement of public infrastructure.

These projects are typically funded by government entities and aim to address the needs of the general public. Examples of civil projects include dams, reservoirs, water supply systems, sewage and waste disposal facilities, and communication infrastructure.

— Dams

Dams are crucial structures that are built across rivers and streams to control and manage water flow. They serve various purposes, such as flood control, water storage for irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and providing a water supply for communities.

Cranes play a vital role in dam construction by lifting and placing heavy materials like concrete, steel, and machinery. They help in the erection of formwork, which is used to mold and shape the concrete structure of the dam. Cranes are used to transport and position large sections of concrete, reinforcing bars, and other components, ensuring the precise and efficient construction of the dam.

— Reservoirs

Reservoirs are man-made bodies of water that store and supply water to communities, industries, and agriculture. They help regulate water supply, provide irrigation for crops, facilitate recreational activities, and serve as sources of hydroelectric power.

In the construction of reservoirs, cranes are employed to handle the installation of various components. They are used to lift and position pipes, valves, and other infrastructure that facilitate the inflow and outflow of water.

Cranes also assist in the construction of spillways, which control the release of water from the reservoir. Their strength and reach enable them to handle the heavy lifting required during reservoir construction.

— Water Supply Systems

Water supply systems are vital for providing clean and accessible water to communities. These systems consist of treatment plants, pipelines, storage tanks, and distribution networks that ensure a reliable water supply for domestic, commercial, and industrial use.

Cranes are instrumental in the installation of large-scale water treatment plants.

They are used to lift and position heavy equipment, such as filtration systems, tanks, and pipelines. Cranes also assist in the construction of water towers and storage tanks, ensuring their correct placement and structural integrity.

Additionally, cranes play a role in the installation and maintenance of water distribution networks, supporting the laying of pipes and the positioning of valves and fittings.

— Sewage & Waste Disposal

Proper sewage and waste disposal systems are crucial for maintaining public health and environmental sustainability. These systems collect and treat wastewater and solid waste, preventing the contamination of water sources and the spread of diseases.

Cranes are utilized in the construction of sewage treatment plants, lifting and positioning large equipment such as pumps, filters, and digesters.

They also aid in the installation of pipelines and storage tanks that form the sewage and waste management infrastructure. Cranes’ strength allows for the handling of heavy waste containers and helps in the efficient transportation and disposal of waste.

— Communication

Communication infrastructure, such as cell towers and antennas, is essential for the connectivity and transmission of information in modern society. It supports telecommunications networks, allowing for reliable phone, internet, and data services.

Cranes are indispensable in the construction and maintenance of communication infrastructure. They help lift and position communication towers, antennas, and other equipment at great heights.

Cranes enable the precise placement of these structures, ensuring optimal signal transmission and network coverage. Their stability and strength are vital for the safe installation and maintenance of communication infrastructure, supporting seamless connectivity for communities.

Transportation infrastructure projects are vital for the movement of people, goods, and services. They include the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, highways, and other transportation systems that support economic growth and connectivity.

— Bridges

Bridges are essential components of transportation networks, providing connections across bodies of water, valleys, and other barriers. They facilitate the efficient flow of vehicles and pedestrians, reducing travel distances and enhancing connectivity.

Cranes are essential in the construction of temporary or permanent bridges. They support the installation of bridge components, such as beams and girders, and aid in the assembly and placement of prefabricated bridge sections.

They play a pivotal role in providing the strength and reach necessary to lift and place heavy bridge components, such as girders, precast concrete segments, and steel trusses.

— Highways and Roads

Highways and roads serve as crucial arteries for the movement of goods and people. They connect cities, towns, and regions, facilitating commerce, tourism, and everyday commuting.

Cranes are utilized in road and highway construction and repair projects to handle various tasks such as lifting and positioning heavy machinery and equipment required for road grading, paving, and signage installation. They’re also used to assist in the placement of heavy materials like concrete barriers, guardrails and road sign structures.

In highway repair projects, cranes aid in the removal and replacement of damaged sections or structures, minimizing downtime and ensuring the smooth flow of traffic.

Other Types of Infrastructure Projects
Cranes provide the necessary lifting power to handle large and heavy equipment, ensuring the successful completion of infrastructure projects across various sectors. Let’s dive into two of these areas: Demolition and military.

— Demolition

Demolition projects involve the systematic dismantling or destruction of existing structures. These projects are undertaken for various reasons, such as redevelopment, renovation, or the removal of unsafe or dilapidated buildings. The goal is to safely and efficiently clear the site for new construction or repurpose the land for other purposes.

Cranes play a crucial role in demolition projects by providing the necessary strength and precision to safely dismantle structures. They can hoist heavy wrecking balls or powerful hydraulic attachments, such as shears or hammers, to tear down walls and break apart concrete and steel.

Cranes enable operators to carefully control the demolition process, ensuring that debris is safely removed and minimizing the impact on surrounding structures. Their reach and lifting capacity allow for efficient removal and transportation of the demolished materials, contributing to a streamlined and well-executed demolition project.

— Military

Military infrastructure projects require specialized construction and engineering capabilities to support national defense and security. These projects involve the construction of military bases, facilities, and structures that are essential for training, logistics, and operational readiness.

Cranes are instrumental in the construction of military bases and facilities. They are used to lift and position heavy materials, equipment, and prefabricated structures.

Cranes aid in the installation of barracks, hangars, storage facilities, and other buildings that support military operations. Their strength and reach facilitate the efficient and timely completion of these projects.

The military often requires the movement and positioning of heavy equipment, such as tanks, artillery, and aircraft. Cranes are utilized to lift and transport this equipment, ensuring its safe and accurate placement.