One of the firms helping St. Louis keep its reputation for innovation is Grau Contracting, which has purchased one of the first self-erecting cranes in the region.
Grau is a privately-held construction firm run by Jerry and Diane Grau Schierding and it has been working in the St. Louis area since 1947. The company prides itself on being able to offer its customers the latest in construction technology.
Self-erecting cranes are one of the fastest growing lifting markets in North America as increasing numbers of end users realize the advantages these versatile machines have over other types of equipment –– particularly telehandlers.
To understand their popularity one need only look at the success Grau has achieved with its new HDT 80.
“It hasn’t had a day off since we took delivery of it in December 2004,” said Jerry Schierding.
The crane has been employed on three projects since arriving at Grau and is looking at a busy future. The first job for the new 13,000 lb. unit was on the three-story Country Inn and Suites project, a wood structure being built on South Main Street in the historic St. Charles area of St. Louis.
Working for main contractor Blanton Construction Company, the crane was used to set prestressed concrete floor slabs, prefab wood wall panels and floor panels, roof trusses, and subcontractors’ materials. The heaviest loads lifted during the crane’s eight-week stay on site were steel wall panels that weighed 3,500 lbs. and the wood and steel floor panels weighing 3,400 lbs.
From this site the crane was transported to the Sisters of Mercy convent, also in St Louis, to work on a one-story dormitory construction.
Working for main contractor Lawlor Corporation, the crane was again used for installing wall and floor panels. After six weeks on site, and the completion of phase one of construction, the crane was moved again, this time to a five-story condominium job in Grafton, IL.
There it stayed for eight weeks carrying out general material-handling duties on site under the direction of its owners Grau Contracting, which was main contractor on the job. After this job, the HDT 80 returned to the Sisters of Mercy project for phase two of the construction where it remains at present.
According to Jerry Schierding, self-erecting cranes offer a number of benefits over other types of lifting equipment.
“We’re finding that construction sites are becoming tighter and more congested every year,” he said. “These self-erecting cranes take up less area and can reach further than other hydraulic material-handling equipment. On the Country Inn project, we had no room on three sides of the building.
“On the Sisters of Mercy job, there is no access on one side. If we’d used certain types of mobile cranes, it would have to be moved three times in one day to set one floor. Also, when setting wall and floor panels we cannot stop to reposition the crane. On all these jobs, the Potain HDT 80 was able to cover the entire footprint of the building thanks to its long reach capabilities,” he added.
“We also had to consider capacity. To reach over the floors with a hydraulic crane we would have needed a much larger crane,” he said. “Although this would have given us greater capacity, we wouldn’t have utilized it and therefore would have been paying for something we didn’t need.”
The HDT 80 is one of the most popular self-erecting cranes in the US at present. Although it has a footprint of just 15 by 15 ft. it can lift up to 1.49 tons at its maximum jib length of 148 ft. The units have an underhook height of 112 ft. and the jibs have the ability to luff. Power can be drawn from either a 220 V or 480 V electricity source, ensuring quiet and efficient operation.