The Liebherr LTM1500 – owned and operated by Whyte Crane Hire – tipped over backwards when the ground under one of its outriggers gave way. It was working at Aquatic Engineering and Construction’s base on the Dales Industrial Estate in Peterhead, Scotland. The crane remained in its overturned position while the best experts at Crawford, Aviva and Crowland Cranes put together the single most complicated crane recovery the U.K. has ever seen.
Five months and many hundreds of man hours consisting of planning, computer modelling and the creation of some specially fabricated lifting collars resulted in the successful recovery of the Liebherr LTM1500. The recovery operation was carried out with a focus on minimizing the damage to the crane as well as in the safest way possible.
Ground conditions, environmental control and site security all played a part. The actual lift, which was carried out in stages over five days, involved five cranes (including three 500 tonne machines) and 40 men performing an “aerial ballet” lifting and rotating the machine in a single simultaneous movement choreographed by Crowland Cranes, closely following the “score” composed by Liebherr.
The machine was landed safely at 10.30 on Thursday Oct. 2 to a fanfare of cheers from the dedicated recovery team, watching public and press. Throughout the entire operation not a pane of glass or a light lens was broken.
Chaz Winterton, senior regional engineer, Crawford Global Technical Services®, said “The five days spent on the recovery of the crane have been some of the longest and nerve wracking in my life but the end result was spectacular. Dangling £3 million worth of machine on three pieces of string while spinning it on the spot is not for the fainthearted. The finest accolade was paid by the third-party hirers who commented ‘well that looked easy,’ a testament to precise planning and perfect execution by a team of dedicated professionals.”
The crane is now back in Biggleswade having had the running repairs completed and a full assessment of damage is underway. The most obvious damage is to the boom that had to be cut off. However, because of the care taken during the recovery period, only the already damaged section of the boom will be scrapped. The remainder will be re-installed in the very near future.