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At 132 m high, the bright yellow Liebherr LR 1500 crane is visible from across the city

Titan Cranes assists with the Christchurch rebuild

The Metro Sports Facility in central Christchurch is rising from the ground with the help of Titan Cranes and their brand-new LR 1500 crawler crane from Liebherr.

Set to open in 2022, the Metro Sports Facility – one of the anchor projects for the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan – will be the largest aquatic and indoor recreation and leisure venue of its kind in New Zealand. At around 20,000 sq m, the building will cover an area the size of two rugby fields on a 70,000 sq m site serviced by Moorhouse Avenue, Stewart Street, St Asaph Street and Antigua Street.

Construction is being managed by Otakaro Ltd and jointly funded by the Crown and Christchurch City Council.

Since mid-2019, principal contractor CPB Contractors has been onsite preparing for the massive build and in February this year, Titan Cranes delivered and commissioned onsite their brand-new Liebherr 500 tonne LR 1500 crawler crane, straight off the boat from Germany. The crane reaches an immense height – at 132 m high, it is visible from across the city.

Otakaro project director Alistair Young says the crane’s main role on the site will be to lift the large elements of structural steel into place, including the main building trusses – some of which will span the courts and pools and be approximately 40 m wide. In addition, parts of the roof will be assembled on the ground before being lifted into place.

Delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown period, the site is now fully operational again, and the new crane is about to prove its worth.

Modern fleet

Titan Cranes is a crane hire and heavy lift specialist. A privately owned New Zealand company, the business was established in 1965 with just five cranes that had a maximum lifting capacity of 18 tonnes. Today, the company is headquartered in Wellington, with additional offices in New Plymouth, Christchurch and Dunedin, and offers a 24/7 service across the country.

Its modern-day fleet comprises over 50 cranes with lifting capacities from 5 to 500 tonnes, including truck cranes, all-terrain, rough-terrain, crawler and pick-and-carry cranes. General manager Vaughan Clark says that while general and taxi crane hire work is the cornerstone of their business, project work, such as the Metro Sports Facility, is increasingly becoming an important part of their operations. And key to their success is their partnership with Liebherr – and its crawler cranes in particular.

“We started investing in Liebherr crawler cranes over four years ago,” says Mr Clark. “We now have four of them, ranging from the LTR 1100, a telescopic crawler crane with 100 tonne capacity, an LR 1250 with 250 tonne capacity, and an LR 1400/2 which features a maximum capacity of 400 tonnes. We’ve been very happy with these three machines’ performance. Our familiarity with them, and the fact that they’re so well utilised, made the LR 1500 the obvious choice for our next machine. With a maximum load capacity of 500 tonnes, the LR 1500 has a massive maximum hoist height of 169.4 m and a maximum radius of 144 m.”

The Titan Cranes team first saw the LR 1500 being demonstrated at Conexpo, North America’s largest construction trade show, and were invited to the Liebherr factory in Germany to see it being launched at their customer days. Mr Clark says it was a tough decision between the LR 1500 and the LR 1600/2. “In the end it came down to transportability and the machine’s footprint – it’s very compact for its size. The main body of the crane can be stripped down to weigh less for transport and the tracks are 30 tonnes, so moving the machine can be done far more efficiently. It’s also simple to set up.

“Our operators love the Liebherr crawlers, especially the new machine. A few of them have now been trained to operate the LR 1500 and every single one of them loves it.”

Highest standards

The LR 1500 offers a number of benefits over the LR 1400/2, says Mr Clark. “It has more safety features, particularly around working at height. It has a faster setup time and better transport weights, and some ratings are 68% stronger than the LR 1400/2.”

Liebherr mobile and crawler cranes are renowned for the very highest safety standards, particularly their structural values. Every single crane’s structural integrity is designed with a safety margin of 1.5, and every crane has to pass a series of intensive and continuous tests and checks, both during the entire production process and then afterwards on the factory’s own test site.

Also up to spec was the support Titan Cranes received from the Liebherr team on the ground in New Zealand. “Tom Curran and his team went out of their way to ensure the machine was delivered to the site in time to meet our customer’s deadline – all the components arrived with a few days to spare,” says Mr Clark. “With the number of Liebherr machines in our fleet already, we knew the technical support and after-sales service would be up to a high standard.”

Tom Curran is Liebherr’s sales manager for mobile and crawler cranes in New Zealand and says, “The LR 1500 is state of the art for its product class and we are confident it will prove itself in operation. Titan Cranes is a valued customer with a long association with Liebherr products and our staff. We understand and appreciate the commitment Titan affords our New Zealand team.”

For now, work on the Metro Sports Facility will keep Titan Cranes’ new LR 1500 busy for a year at least, but the team have high hopes – literally – for the future. “New areas of business and opportunities will open up,” says Mr Clark. “I already have a few projects lined up for it – but I don’t want to give too much away!”

Watch a video of Titan Cranes’ new Liebherr 500 tonne crawler crane on the Metro Sports Facility site here:

liebherr.com


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