Articulating cranes have been documented as causing serious harm to people. The construction and mining sectors are constantly evaluating their safety on sites, more recently restricting contracts.
Safety of these cranes is also a focus for CICA, with the release of a new operator information video in June this year. As the manufacturer of the TIDD Crane, this has also been the focus of TRT, from the first prototype on the PC25 in March 2014 to the new PC28.
We take a closer look at the history of the innovation from TRT in Pick and Carry crane operation and why challenging standard expectations in a market can improve outcomes for an entire industry. TRT believes there is always a better way.
TRT is open about the journey of the development of the TIDD crane from the first PC25 prototype in 2014, that launched to a mixed reception, the learnings and the successes from this journey, to the new TIDD PC28, which celebrated its first birthday in May 2020. TRT directors, Bruce and Robert Carden tell us more about the journey.
“The opportunity for the development of the PC25 stemmed from our existing customers and networks sharing their frustration around lack of product options, manufacturing timing constraints, lack of competitive pricing, limited innovation and lower than expected levels of service. These frustrations were seen by them to be the result of a lack of competition” says Robert, TRT’s technical director.
He continues, “From the start, the TIDD development was intended to set new standards in articulated crane performance, but more importantly the way in which safety, risk and the operators are protected to satisfy duty of care and mitigate risk to all stakeholders. We truly believe that this journey has created the product the industry has been demanding”
“From the initial ‘R and D’ to the TIDD PC25 prototype took about three years. Like any new product development journey, it took time, effort and investment in research, design and engineering to create a product that met customer expectation.”
“While the PC25 delivered a lot of great features, like a fully certified ROPS two door cab, the first for an articulating crane, including ABS brakes, hydropneumatic front suspension and a dynamic load indicator with side slope deration , we soon discovered we had overlooked key operational features like a full power boom.”
TRT were determined to provide a better performing crane and an even more people-centric crane, that the industry was asking for.
Bruce, TRT’s director of innovation and Sales continues, “from its introduction to the Australian market in 1980 with a subsequent offshore acquisition in 1999, we knew that there was an entrenched crane brand in the market [Franna] that set the standard for operators, but we also knew nothing will ever improve in an industry that will settle for less than they should. Especially when we compare this with other industries and even other crane classes, that are experiencing technology advancements at a much faster rate.”
“Our team have a real passion for innovation and the desire to solve problems, so it was a natural and perfect fit for us to get to work and solve some of the frustrations customers and stakeholders in the industry were having”
“This is not about innovation for the sake of innovation. This is innovation where it matters, operator and site safety. We see the PC28 as the new standard for Pick and Carry cranes. It delivers the operational features customers wanted with new significant safety innovations, but we believe it has also put pressure back on other Pick and Carry manufacturers.”.
“After extensive industry and expert consultation that started in 2017, we launched our new generation TIDD PC28 in May 2019. We believe that since its launch the TIDD PC28 is creating a new benchmark in performance expectation within the market.”
It’s not just the manufacturer’s claims. Based on what customers are saying, TRT is creating a new benchmark in performance and service expectation within the pick and carry market.
Michael Yates from NSW based CREW confirms, “Working with Tier One clients, we are obviously aware of the focus on Pick and Carries in general and the concerns around their safety specifically. One of the biggest drivers around the TIDD purchase is the fact that you can take the machine to Tier One customers and demonstrate the risk mitigation features of the PC28”.
Ryan Melrose, from Melrose Cranes, agrees, “We recognised that areas of the construction and infrastructure sector have degrees of negativity towards articulated Pick and Carry cranes. Obviously, there have been a number of incidents over the years involving this type of crane, including rollovers. Todays’ Pick and Carries are built with a number of safety features that aim to limit or even prevent the operator from putting the machine into a position that may result in an incident or accident. We feel one of the leading safety-systems is Slew Safe, developed by TRT,”
Adam Murrihy from AM Cranes explains the motivation in their TIDD PC28 purchase; “As far as the safety aspects of the TIDD are concerned, in our opinion, they are ahead of the opposition.” He continues “We’ve seen them come along in leaps and bounds and the features in these particular units give us a significant point of difference when we are talking to our customers,”
So, what are these TIDD PC28 innovations leading the industry in a safer direction?
Slew Safe is the most significant innovation in articulating crane safety in recent years. Slew Safe restricts the crane from operating off the chart using audible and visual alarms, steering restrictions, it cannot be overridden. It reduces speed to 15 per cent in the unsafe direction and full speed in the safe direction of steering.
The PC28 was the first crane in its class to deliver Dynamic LMI to the industry with an external override key, taking the temptation to operate in override away from the operator, and putting safety back in the hands of those that should decide, creating a positive change in lift planning and decision making.
Traction Air, TRT’s own Central Tyre Inflation system, used in the logging and haulage industries across Australia and New Zealand for almost 25 years, has been reconfigured for the PC28 to maintain a consistent 130 PSI tyre pressure, optimising crane stability. It is monitored within the ROPS cab and automatically adjusts, no matter the load or the terrain or the temperature. The added benefit – it enables instant tyre pressure checks, saving as much as thirty minutes each day on manual checks and adjustments.
The PC28 is designed with greater visibility than any other pick and carry crane, which greatly removes blind spots and improves visibility of the load and people in the operating zone, from all angles and retains the forward-mounted cabin design so popular with the PC25.
TIDD remains the only articulating crane to deliver a certified cab rollover protection system (ROPS).
Bruce explains why this is so important to TRT, “Innovation is often a term overused or used loosely by companies, but it IS part of the TRT ethos. When we saw an opportunity to improve outcomes for people, we choose to invest and lead from the front.”
This is not restricted to TIDD Cranes. In 2019 TRT patented a new electronic steering system (ESS) for low loaders, platforms and house trailers in 2019, a world first. They launched Versa Lock at CICA in 2019 for more flexible axle weight management on crane support trailers. They also work with Australian and New Zealand Defence to create unique operational equipment solutions too.
“As we have endeavoured to for over 53 years in NZ and over 20 years in Australia, we continually ask, ‘what can we do to our products to not only ensure superior functionality, but also superior safety?’ We wanted to create a new standard for Pick and Carry cranes and based on the feedback from the market, we are achieving this,” Robert added.
“We are a bespoke manufacturer by many standards, but we are only one of a handful of vehicle manufacturers remaining in Australasia. We strongly believe in local manufacture and it is at the core of our operation. It allows greater quality control and greater agility. It is a platform that enables innovation and best of all it supports 100 per cent local. While sourcing fabricated weldments offshore for assembly is more cost-effective, it does not promote innovation and is not an option for TRT,” Bruce said.
“I challenge articulating crane operators and owners to ask yourselves if you can trust the status quo, given that change only comes when you challenge the default standard, which comes through innovation and changing expectations. Of course, we would like to see more TIDD cranes on construction sites across Australia, but we would also like to see an industry challenging expectation, keeping people safer and reducing risk.”