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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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Potain MDT 389 Top-Slewing Tower Crane Erection

In the heart of Kalamazoo, Michigan, an impressive transformation has been taking place. The skyline of this vibrant city has been evolving, thanks to the hardworking team from All State Crane and Rigging. They recently undertook a remarkable project: the assembly of a Potain MDT 389 Top-Slewing Tower Crane. This towering achievement not only added a new dimension to the cityscape but also highlighted the precision and expertise of the All State Crane and Rigging team.

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The Potain MDT 389 Tower Crane

Before delving into the incredible work done by All State Crane and Rigging, let’s get to know the star of the show—the Potain MDT 389 Top-Slewing Tower Crane. This crane is renowned for its outstanding lifting capacity, reliability, and versatility. Its robust construction allows it to handle a wide range of lifting tasks, making it a preferred choice for projects that demand precision and strength. Standing tall and proud, this crane was destined to be the centerpiece of Kalamazoo’s skyline.

All State Crane and Rigging: The Team Behind the Triumph

All State Crane and Rigging, a well-respected name in the construction and heavy lifting industry, was entrusted with the task of assembling the Potain MDT 389 in Kalamazoo. With a reputation for delivering excellence and safety, this team was the perfect choice for such a challenging endeavor.

The assembly of a tower crane of this magnitude is no small feat. It requires meticulous planning, exceptional teamwork, and an unwavering commitment to safety. All State Crane and Rigging possesses all these qualities in abundance.

The Assembly Process

Site Preparation: Before the towering crane could rise, the team at All State Crane and Rigging had to ensure the construction site was ready. This involved securing a stable foundation capable of supporting the crane’s immense weight.

Component Delivery: Massive sections of the Potain MDT 389 tower crane were delivered to the site. These components included the tower sections, jib, counterweights, and the crucial lifting mechanisms.

Tower Erection: The foundation was ready, and the tower sections were lifted and carefully assembled one by one, creating the towering structure that would soon dominate the Kalamazoo skyline.

Jib and Counterweights: The jib, with its impressive reach, was attached to the tower, while counterweights were added to balance the crane’s load-bearing capacity.

Testing and Inspection: Before the crane could be put to work, it underwent rigorous testing and inspection to ensure it met safety standards and operational efficiency.

Operational Training: The All State Crane and Rigging team received thorough training in operating the Potain MDT 389, ensuring safe and efficient crane operation.

The Impact on Kalamazoo

The assembly of the Potain MDT 389 Top-Slewing Tower Crane by All State Crane and Rigging is more than just an engineering marvel—it’s a symbol of progress and ambition for Kalamazoo. This towering crane will be pivotal in countless construction projects, from towering skyscrapers to large infrastructure developments, further boosting the city’s growth and prosperity.

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Check out this video to see how our team built this tower crane: