Manitowoc crawlers aid Texas turbine installation

By Hannah Sundermeyer12 January 2021

IEA used four Manitowoc crawler cranes, for the installation of turbines at a wind farm in Texas.

Machine wear on cranes is a significant issue for those working in wind energy applications. IEA Constructors (IEA) used four Manitowoc crawler cranes, two MLC650s and two MLC300s, for the installation of turbines at a wind farm in Texas and the four cranes completed the work with only minimal undercarriage wear, avoiding downtime to replace worn parts. 

Over the course of the project, the four crawler cranes installed nearly 200 tower pad sites and crisscrossed over 600 miles.

IEA, a renewable energy and specialty civil construction company, used the cranes to install approximately 200 wind turbines on a project near Sebastian, TX. To better track damage and minimize wear in 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,” said Jason Ruggles, director of crane operations at IEA Equipment Management. “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-degree 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, the company said.

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