IEA Contractors (IEA) employed the use of four Manitowoc Crawler Cranes, two MLC650s and two MLC300s, to install turbines on a project near Sebastian, Texas. IEA reported that all four cranes completed the work with only minimal undercarriage wear, avoiding downtime to replace worn parts.
Machine wear on cranes is a significant issue for those working in wind energy applications. The installation of turbines usually requires crawler cranes to travel hundreds of miles in the course of an assignment, which will result in proportional wear in their undercarriages.
“We’re beyond satisfied with the wear, or rather lack of wear, on the MLC650 undercarriages. During this project, our Manitowoc crawlers walked for many miles and yet we saw very little wear,” said Jason Ruggles, director of crane operations at IEA Equipment Management. “Across the whole product line, Manitowoc undercarriages proved to be very durable.
"For instance, the undercarriage wear on the MLC300 units is significantly less than others in the 300-ton class, even after carrying out several projects. We’re very happy with the life we’re getting out of the Manitowoc undercarriages and components, and it has contributed significantly to a reduction in our operating costs.”
IEA, a renewable energy and specialty civil construction company, used the cranes to install approximately 200 wind turbines on a project near Sebastian, Texas. To better track damage and minimize wear on the undercarriage, Manitowoc’s Lift Solutions engineers worked with Manitowoc dealer Walter Payton Power Equipment (WPPE) to create a monitoring system tailored specifically to IEA’s needs. This enabled IEA to keep a closer eye on any wear these critical parts experienced.
“We needed a way to continually monitor these wear components without physically measuring the movement between each shaft, pin and bushing,” Ruggles said. “Out in the field our emphasis is on production, so we needed gauges that could act as a ‘go, no-go’ indicator, and quickly and accurately measure component wear, giving us a visual reference of the rate of wear.”
The wear gauges were applied to all four MLC650 and MLC300 cranes. Small monitors on the cranes provided a visual display and continuously reported data to help the team evaluate wear in real time. The gauges monitored wear through the entire course of the project, during which the crawler cranes traversed a combined 600 miles.
Configured with 331.4 feet of main boom with a 24.9 foot extended upper boom point (EUBP) at 28° offset, and outfitted with 661,000 pounds of counterweight, the two MLC650 crawler cranes helped set upper mid tower sections, spikes, blades and V120 nacelles. Performing these lifts on each pad meant the cranes had to travel from site to site fully configured, covering distances of several miles each day. As the practice understandably causes significant undercarriage wear and is a cost consideration for contractors, big advantages come with monitoring this wear.