Service Cranes Provide a Lift For Jobsite Safety

Sept. 28, 2010

With the service and utility industries gathering this year for the biennial International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE), suppliers of service cranes have been busy introducing new and updated models. The truck-mounted cranes themselves, however, aren't the only shiny new products that can boost jobsite efficiency and productivity for service-crane users.

Miller Electric recently introduced the truck-integrated EnPak Mechanic Series compressor/pump/generator that eliminates the need for a power take-off (PTO) unit commonly used to operate hydraulic cranes and other equipment on service trucks. With the EnPak, mechanics can run a 10,000- to 12,000-pound crane with the truck itself turned off. This, says Miller Electric, can cut fuel costs up to 30 percent, truck engine hours up to 60 percent, and truck noise by as much as 10 dB. Additionally, the unit's vertical exhaust system diverts fumes up and away from the work area. "Fleet managers appreciate its costs savings," says Rick Beeson, director of business development with Miller Electric's power products group, "and mechanics like that it allows them to work without worrying about the output from the truck's engine and PTO."

EnPak combines a rotary screw air compressor, hydraulic pump and generator in a single unit. EnPower real-time load monitoring automatically matches engine speed to the load requirement put on the machine, offering additional fuel savings by only ramping up engine rpm to the level needed to complete the task and then back down to idle. "The fact that it is a self-contained, purpose-built machine with components from Miller, Kubota and Eaton makes it a reliable and cost-saving alternative to PTO systems," says Beeson. Truck bed space is maximized with a self-contained unit that can be mounted as a side-pack or in the load space. Since it can be operated by remote, EnPak does not require a cut-out in one of the truck's storage compartments for front panel access. Service components are accessible via hatches at the front and top of the unit.

EnPak's 27-horsepower Kubota diesel engine shares the truck's fuel supply, meaning mechanics only have one tank to fill. EnPak not only uses the truck's battery, but also will provide the 12 volts of power and 60-amp charge to the battery to ensure peak battery performance and extended life. The integrated control design allows the operator to use the crane remote with which they are already familiar.

"The EnPak lets me use both air and hydraulics at the same time without slowing down," says Carlos Pineda, heavy equipment service technician with California-based Caterpillar dealer Peterson Tractor Co. "Sometimes I need to use my crane to support a piece while I'm using my impact gun to remove fasteners, and that all comes into play when you are disassembling a large machine."

At the same time, the selection of cranes available for use by Pineda and other technicians is growing.

New cranes

Manufacturers including Stellar, IMT and Jomac have been busy updating and expanding their truck-mounted crane lines, offering new opportunities for users of telescopic and articulating service cranes alike.

Visitors to ICUEE had the first glimpse of Stellar's new line of telescopic cranes equipped with Crane Dynamics Technology (CDT), a proprietary collection of features that control, power and monitor the cranes, providing communication with the operator via multiple sensory indicators engaged when the crane is approaching maximum capacity. For service cranes ranging in lift capacity from 6,000 to 14,000 pounds, CDT is comprised of a two-way communications and feedback system, an enhanced safety monitoring system, and a crane-boosting feature.

Described by Stellar Industries as the first in the mechanics crane market to offer integral capacity alert incorporated into the handheld controller, the two-way communications system indicates to the operator when the load being craned is increasing the load moment of the crane. Color-coded LED lights and varying cyclical vibrations are built into the Stellar handheld controller. As part of the enhanced safety system, the crane will enter a safe mode at reduced speed, should a capacity monitoring device fail to operate correctly. With the crane boost, operators who encounter an overload situation can increase crane capacity to nearly 120 percent with the press of a button on the handheld device, for long enough to either finish the lift or get out of the overload situation. "By having the ability of knowing the weight of a load and boosting crane capacity to nearly 120 percent of normal operating capacity without compromising the equipment is a huge step in increased productivity," says Tim Davison, Stellar product manager.

On the articulating crane side of the business, Iowa Mold Tooling (IMT) Co. Inc. has revamped its wide service crane product line. Of IMT's 22 articulating crane models, 17 are new or updated, most notable being the introduction of eight mid-range cranes with single-link (SL) or dual-link (DL) options. SL and DL versions are available for models ranging from the 13/88 to the 24/169, covering a maximum lift capacity range of 6,290 to 11,640 pounds. Suited for loading/unloading tasks at a low height far away from the vehicle, the Single Power Plus Link Arm System provides high lifting capacity when the boom system is fully extended. This system features high speed in extreme positions at the column, which makes it ideal for "fast-grab" work, says IMT. The Dual Power Plus Link Arm System offers the best lifting capacities under all conditions, and it is particularly well suited for long reaches and lifting in high positions with demanding equipment, such as fly-jib and winch, says the company.

Other new developments offered by IMT include the RCL 5300 rated capacity limiter and an "over-bending" feature. RCL 5300 not only monitors the crane's load moment, operation and function during loader operation, but also loader position during transport. In an overload situation, the system warns the operator and interrupts the distribution of oil for crane functions, yet allows functions that reduce load moment to continue. With "over-bending," the working area between the main boom and jib is no less than 195 degrees, providing greater flexibility when working through narrow passages and under overhead power lines, but also allowing maximum load lift in all boom positions. "We recognize that the customer wants as many crane choices as possible," says Steve Fairbanks, president of IMT, which on the telescopic crane side additionally offers 10 hydraulic and five electric models.

Jomac recently has added one mid-sized model to each of its telescopic service crane and articulating service crane families, now totaling seven and five in base model sizes, respectively. Another industry supplier, Palfinger North America, says it will have a "huge" announcement regarding its service crane product line in March 2010.

As the utility industry picks back up, service-crane manufacturers are indeed ready to lend a lift.

IMT Dominator IV Mechanics Truck with IMT 8025 Telescopic Crane

A field mechanic with McAninch Corp. uses an IMT Dominator IV mechanics truck equipped with an IMT 8025 telescopic crane to perform maintenance during site prep for the new airport in Branson, Mo.

IMT is one of the service-crane manufacturers busy updating and expanding its product lines, including the 8025 telescopic crane mounted on a Dominator IV mechanics truck.

With the EnPak from Miller Electric, mechanics can operate a hydraulic crane as well as air and electrical tools, all with the service truck itself turned off. Eliminating the need for a PTO, the diesel-driven EnPak combines a rotary screw air compressor, hydraulic pump,and generator into a single self-contained, truck-integrated unit.
  • Stellar
  • Amco Veba
  • Manitowoc
  • IMT
  • Palfinger
  • Jomac
In this story:
  • New cranes
  • Cost of Ownership
Cost of Ownership
SizeList Price*Hourly Rate
* Hourly rate is the monthly ownership costs divided by 176, plus operating costs. Unit prices used in this calculation are mechanic's wage at $46.29 per hour and money costs at 4.875 percent.
Source:, phone 800/669-3282
Articulating Cranes (PTO Powered)  
Up to 8,000 lb.$22,255$7.66
8,001 – 18,000 lb.$37,148$10.51
18,001 – 24,000 lb.$60,309$16.73
24,001 – 30,000 lb.$99,413$26.44
Telescopic Cranes (Hydraulic Powered)
Up to 8,000 lb.$13,808$5.90
8,001 – 18,000 lb.$46,422$13.18
18,001 – 24,000 lb.$47,908$14.72
24,001 – 30,000 lb.$57,445$17.96
30,001 – 36,000 lb.$70,160$21.95
36,001 – 42,000 lb.$88,743$25.64
42,001 lb. and up$142,655$38.66