Published Jul 28, 2021
In HVAC & Facility Maintenance


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Liebherr LTM 1650-8.1 packs 700 tons of power in the footprint of a much smaller crane

The “Blue Beast", an all-terrain crane with the industry’s largest lifting capacity on eight axles, made its debut recently on a project at a Veterans Administration Hospital in Cleveland. The newly delivered Liebherr LTM 1650-8.1, dubbed the “Blue Beast” due to its cobalt blue paint job, performed its inaugural lift for ALL Erection & Crane Rental, the flagship branch of the ALL Family of Companies.

Introduced at Bauma (the world’s leading construction machinery trade fair) in 2019, the LTM 1650-8.1 is Liebherr’s successor to the LTM 1500-8.1, the best-selling large crane ever. It ups the ante with a 770-USt capacity, exceeding its predecessor’s capacity by between 15 and 50 percent, depending on the equipment package selected. Units are made-to-order, with ALL placing its order last fall and taking delivery this spring.

The job at the VA hospital involved construction of a mechanical room and lifting six air handler sections. The crane was set up on the street and had to lift over another building to reach the work area. Its capacity was perfect for the job. “Given where we had to set up the crane, higher-capacity machines wouldn’t have fit, and cranes small enough to fit couldn’t lift the necessary weight at that distance,” said Brian Meek, equipment specialist for ALL Crane.

One of the hallmarks of the LTM 1650-8.1’s design is its ability to set up close to buildings and obstructions while safely maintaining its swing, going where no crane of its size could ever go before. This is thanks to VarioBallast®, which provides high performance with a smaller ballast radius. Ballast radius can be infinitely adjusted between 21 and 27.5 feet using a simple hydraulic slewing mechanism.

In tight spaces, even with its back literally against a wall, it will still handle significant picks. It gives plant and facility managers a new way of thinking about how they maintain equipment and where they can install bigger pieces. It opens up spaces never before possible.

The LTM 1650 also has two telescopic boom lengths (177 feet or 263 feet) with an easy change system, adding great flexibility. The long boom system is available when needed, and the short one reduces transport costs and setup time. The short boom configuration is also ideal for long-reach, up-and-over applications, providing additional luffing jib strength—just like conditions encountered in the inaugural job.

In this instance, 73 feet of main boom included 287 feet of luffing jib. With 341,700 pounds of counterweight, it could easily handle the 17,000-pound air handler sections, each 30 feet long. The operator picked each section from a flatbed parked on the street, lifted and swung over the interceding building, and set each piece atop the target structure behind it.

“This lift is a perfect showcase for the capabilities of the 1650,” said Meek. “It has the footprint of a 500-ton crane and packs the punch of a 700-ton crane. I’ve never seen a large crane built this efficiently. Its assembly is much smoother than even a typical 600-ton crane, which will save money on set-up for customers in the long run. I’m excited to see what doors this crane will open to new kinds of jobs.”