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Superior Cranes’ investment in Demag CC 6800-1 crane pays off

Joe Everett, president of Superior Cranes, Inc., Rockingham, N.C., has gained a reputation as an innovator.  “We have completed many jobs that other lifting companies wouldn’t consider due to the creative way Joe looks at a project,” says Brian Schleicher, director of marketing & communications for Superior Cranes.

Everett is also known for investing in the company and growing the fleet, so Superior Cranes can tackle the difficult projects. The company does not like missing out on a project opportunity because the right crane type with the capacity to complete the lift is not in the fleet. Until recently, however, this was exactly what was occurring because the largest crawler crane in the company’s fleet was a Demag CC 3800-1, offering a 715-USt (650-t) capacity.

“Even though we have the 1,320-USt (1,200 t) capacity class Demag AC 1000-9 all terrain crane, there were three jobs in 2018 that we couldn’t bid because it wasn’t possible to use an all terrain crane,” recalls Everett. “We needed a crawler crane with about the same capacity, so we didn’t miss out on other opportunities.”

So Superior Cranes invested in the Demag CC 6800-1 crane, which offers a 1,375-USt (1,250-t) lifting capacity. The timing of the purchase was critical, as a challenging petrochemical job in Virginia came up for bid, one that would require the capacity that only the CC 6800-1 could offer. “Prior to purchasing the 1,375-USt (1,250-t) crane, we could not have completed the lift. For that matter, few lifting companies east of the Mississippi River could,” comments Everett.

Tight quarters, inventive planning

This was the first project Superior Cranes’ crew would complete with the new CC 6800-1 crawler crane. Everett couldn’t have picked a more challenging application for the first job with the crane. Demag engineers assisted the company to devise a lift plan for a site with limited access and crane mobility after the load was lifted.

Multiple 680,000-lb (308-t) vessels had to be removed and replaced for the petrochemical company. Everything about the project required diligent planning and flawless execution. “The crane had to navigate on the narrow job site,” says Everett. “We had to build a pad for the crane, so the counterweight could swing over the top of the building. The lifts took nearly eight months to plan.”

The Demag CC 6800-1 crawler had to be positioned far away from the 20-ft (6.1-m) diameter, 40-ft (12.2-m) tall vessels. Superior Cranes’ crew used a 300-USt (275-t) crawler assist crane to build out the CC 6800-1. “It took 10 days to set up and 6 days to disassemble the (CC 6800-1) crane,” says Everett, “which is excellent given the space we had to work with and it being our first time. The process will get faster, especially on wide open job sites.”

Crew members installed 259 ft (79 m) of main boom and 134.2 ft (41 m) of Superlift boom. To aid in construction safety, the CC 6800-1 is equipped with the Demag Fall Protection system. “This system stops a fall prior to the worker reaching the ground, reducing the possibility of injury,” says Hans Hofer, service engineer for Demag. It is quickly installed from ground level and includes a vest harness equipped with a shock absorber.

The lifts required 1,719,000 lb (780 t) of counterweight – 551,000 lb (250 t) superstructure, 176,000 lb (80 t) central ballast, and 992,000 lb (450 t) on the Superlift tray. The lifts were made at 125- and 136-ft (38.1- and 41.5-m) radii due to site access limitations. Everett adds, “The closest competitive crane available couldn’t fit into the hole we had to work with, so we were glad to have the CC 6800-1.”

A total of 12 picks were made in the month Superior Cranes was on site. Wedged between obstructions, the operator carefully kept the boom within lifting radius with the variable Superlift counterweight tray connected to the carbody. After the vessel was secured, the crane boomed up and positioned the load close to the carbody.

Crews then disconnected the Superlift tray to rotate the vessel and reposition it to its staging area. “The tray had to be removed to allow the crane’s counterweight to clear the building,” explains Hofer. “The crane’s Quadro-Drive on-demand system improves versatility on jobs like these by allowing the base to move and spin under load.”

Superior Cranes’ months of meticulous planning paid off. The difficult lifts were safely made in less time than planned. “The CC 6800-1 is a great piece of equipment,” says Everett, adding, “We’re looking forward to the next one.”

Increasing versatility

Everett started in the industry 31 years ago with a single 45-USt (40-t) crane and a service truck. He invested any extra money back into the business. In the early days, he took any job he could complete, from cleaning sewers to railroad recovery.

Today, Superior Cranes owns more Demag crane equipment than any other company on the East Coast. Everett likens the Superior Cranes-Demag relationship to a marriage. “If I fail, we both fail, and Demag has gone the extra mile to ensure our success,” he says.

Everett explains Superior Cranes made the investment in the Demag CC 6800-1 because of its versatility. It can be used as a pedestal crane, a crawler, on a barge or to construct wind turbines. The company purchased the wind kit for potential savings. “You don’t have to use/install the Superlift to erect wind turbines, which saves two to three days for set-up. This is a huge savings,” he says. “While there isn’t a lot of windfarm work in the Southeast yet, the same Superlift savings goes for heavy lifting projects in the city.”

With the Demag CC 6800-1, Superior Cranes has a flexible crane that fits the company’s anything-that-needs-a-crane-we’ll-do attitude. “With the CC 6800-1, we have a 1,375-USt (1,250-t) crane that can do 600-, 800- and 1,000-USt (545-, 725- and 900-t) jobs,” offers Everett. “You can’t do the opposite with a smaller crawler crane.”

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