Trailer Magazine

Moving mountains

  • From the May 2020 issue.
Moving mountains

Movement Machinery services the high voltage powerline industry with dynamic plant and machinery movements. A new MAN 8x8 truck with a Palfinger crane ensures deliveries can be made to the remotest of locations.

Having the right tools for the task at hand is essential for any transport operation. But nowhere is this more vital than when transporting heavy equipment into virgin bushland on steep mountainsides.

Richard Grey, owner of Movement Machinery, has been involved with the electricity transmission industry for many years and has developed a thorough understanding of what is required of equipment used in this niche operation.

“This industry requires a heavy-duty 8x8 truck with a similarly robust crane to carry and unload equipment weighing up to seven tonnes in extremely remote and rugged locations,” Richard says.

“While that doesn’t sound like an overly heavy load by regular road transport standards, when you have to traverse hostile terrain you need the right truck with the right horsepower and the right ground clearance to get the job done.”

Richard has operated six MAN off-road trucks over the last 10 years and he is adamant this latest unit – a 480hp MAN TGS 41.480 8x8 – is the ideal truck for the demanding work he undertakes.

“I personally think they’re the best of the lot,” he says of the MANs. “They have the most horsepower, the highest ground clearance and the best options including diff locks across all four axles.”

So, with the truck sorted, Richard turned his attention to the crane that was to be mounted behind the cab and in front of the table-top body with a length of 6.5 metres.

“I was pretty sure I wanted a Palfinger crane and after talking with Dave Murray, Palfinger Australia Sales Manager for Northern NSW and SE QLD, I knew this was the right product for my application,” Richard says.

Incorporating mine specs, this type of truck is commonly used in Western Australia but because Richard wanted it to be usable in other states a slightly different approach was needed when it came to mounting the crane on the chassis. That’s because in WA a load-sharing twin-steer is allowed 12 tonnes while in the other states and territories the limit is 11 tonnes.  

“I believe this is probably the only truck of its type with a Palfinger PK 33002-EH crane mounted behind the cab outside of WA,” Richard says. “I knew if we could push the crane’s mounting point back to just behind the second steer axle it would keep the weight under the 11-tonne limit.”

The crane is mounted 1,200mm behind the cab with the resultant space used for carrying the gates for the body when not in use.

Other measures that helped with weight distribution included moving the fuel tank rearwards and mounting the spare wheel behind the rear axles to act as a counterweight.

As for why he didn’t rear-mount the crane to alleviate the steer axle weight issue, Richard says it’s important to have the ability to overhang the load at the rear with this type of work.

“We transport lengths of galvanised steel used to construct lattice towers for the larger high voltage transmission lines which can be seven or eight metres long,” he explains, adding that the truck and crane combination was primarily designed around the ability to lift and carry to remote locations the large machine that tensions the high voltage power cables after they are strung up.

“The truck was engineered to handle one of the heaviest components we carry which is the diesel-powered hydraulic Tesmec puller-tensioner that weighs 6.2 tonnes,” he says. “So, I needed to have the 6.2 tonne plus 20 percent capacity for a safety margin to ensure the job was done safely.

“Palfinger supplied me with the biggest crane they could offer which was the safest option for me,” he continues. “Several people and even another crane company told me it couldn’t be done but I knew it was possible if we mounted it in the right position.

“Palfinger and Penske (MAN distributor) were fantastic, as were Minibody Engineering who supplied the body. We had several meetings and everyone worked together exceptionally well to come up with the best solution for my needs,” Richard enthuses.

As for the benefits of the Palfinger PK 33002-EH crane, Richard says the ability to lift the heaviest equipment he carries and still have a 20 per cent safety margin is a huge bonus.

The unit has a maximum reach of 8.1 metres, is radio remote controlled and has various lockouts that prevent the safe working load (SWL) from being exceeded.

It also has internal magnetic sensors in the hydraulic stabiliser legs that communicate with the controller to lock out operation if an unsafe condition is detected. This can happen if one stabiliser is fully extended and the other only half extended. If a heavy load is slewed to the side that is partly extended the operator is warned and if the warning goes unheeded then lockout occurs automatically.

“It’s a very good crane and I’m very happy with it,” Richard says. “The truck and crane are doing the job exactly how I need them
to and doing it easily.

“My grandson Makka loves it too, that’s why I named the truck after him.”

Fast Fact
Running a highly specialised transport operation servicing the high voltage powerline industry, Richard Grey has chosen a Palfinger PK 33002-EH crane mounted on an 8x8 MAN rigid that can travel wherever truck and man can go.

(Image: Callie le Roux, Richard Grey and Dave Murray.)

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