Australian crane-hire firm Max Cranes has taken delivery of the largest telescopic crane in the Southern Hemisphere to meet demand from the wind tower industry.

The 1200 tonne crane (pictured) will be used for the next generation of wind towers which stand 150m tall, an extra 50 metres over the existing towers, posing increased challenges for construction and maintenance.

The German-designed Liebherr all-terrain crane towers can reach 188m when fully extended – over three times the height of the Sydney Opera House.

Max Cranes co-founder and managing director Mark Kuhn said the new crane would be the jewel in the crown of the new Max Heavy Lift Team division, which includes the company’s existing 400t and 500t cranes.

The firm already has contracts in place to use the crane in the maintenance of wind towers, to lift off the rotor – the three blades and hub – and allow a changeover of gearboxes and other equipment on the turbine.

“The higher the wind tower, the more consistent the air flow to turn the turbines – generating more energy at lower cost,” Kuhn said.

“However, that height poses greater challenges for construction and maintenance, and that’s the problem the 1200-tonner solves.”

The crane’s increased capacity is immediately increasing employment opportunities in the Upper Spencer Gulf while providing a unique offering to industries across the country.

“The 1200 tonner opens up the ability to deliver on jobs we would never have been able to do before, from energy, construction and civil engineering through to mining and oil & gas,” Mr Kuhn said. “That in turn puts pressure on internal resources, such as transport and logistics.”

Max Cranes has already created 18 new jobs for project managers, mechanical and support supervisors, as well as operators, riggers and truck drivers.

“We have hand-picked personnel who are being trained now for the very specific skills this machine demands,” Kuhn said.  “They love their job – they get to work on the best crane in the world, with technology and safety features that are second to none.”

Kuhn predicts that engineers, construction and project managers will look at designing jobs around the new machine and how they can utilise the increased capacity.

“For example, a crane like this makes for more effective shutdowns – when a working plant needs major maintenance and shut down round the clock, this crane means a more intensive fix, better use of resources and less downtime,” Kuhn said.

“The crane is efficient and economical in its ability to mobilise and demobilise to project sites, it’s surprisingly very agile and flexible on site.”

Founded in 2002, Max Cranes employs more than 130 people across its head office at Port Augusta and additional depots at Whyalla, Port Pirie, Moomba and Adelaide.

Its fleet of 47 all terrain cranes range from 15 tonne to 1200 tonne machines. The business also supplies scissor lifts, knuckle booms, and heavy haulage transport services.

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