The climbing of tower cranes is a specialised technique used in the installation of tower cranes to increase or decrease the height of a crane without the use of a large mobile crane to lift components to the top of the crane.
Successful tower crane climbing operations depend on detailed planning and effective teamwork by suitably trained and experienced personnel.
The above video will answer your questions (warning: hit mute before pressing play). There are a few tricks. The first is that the crane is actually rather short when the boom is put on, short enough that hanging one side before the other doesn’t tip the whole thing over.
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The second is that the huge concrete counterweights aren’t added until there is some weight to counter (obvious, really, when you think about it). And third, there is a lift system for adding vertical sections, meaning that the crane can be raised in place as the building grows.
The video was put onto YouTube by San Marco Cranes, an Italian company that sells around the world, and which also has a fascinating video demo of a self-erecting crane on its Canadian site. Also, did you know that a self-erecting crane costs $10,000 a month to rent, before adding any other costs? Were you aware of it?
Most tower cranes are erected to their full height using another crane, either a mobile crane or another tower crane. This method is not however always possible as very tall cranes may require tying to an adjacent structure, often the building they are helping to construct, and consequently need erecting in stages.
Additionally in congested city centre sites there is often not sufficient room on which to stand the large mobile cranes required to erect tower cranes to great heights. In these cases the height of the tower crane may be extended using climbing techniques.
These fall into two main categories, external (where the tower of a crane outside a building is extended with a jacking system to allow additional tower sections to be inserted), and internal (where the crane tower is supported by the building floors and is jacked up as the building rises).
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The planning of tower crane climbing operations is the responsibility of the “appointed person” who has been nominated by management of the organisation carrying out the climbing operation (generally the tower crane owner or supplier) to be in overall control of the lifting (climbing) operations and the members of the climbing team.
As the first stage in the planning process, the task to be undertaken should be clearly identified, together with the location and sequence of work.
In general there are benefits in considering the need for the climbing of tower cranes early in the construction planning process. It may be possible to avoid the need for climbing altogether. The planning of a tower crane climbing operation will require a site survey, carried out by a competent person employed by the tower crane owner.
This involves visiting the location where the task is to be carried out, preferably with a representative of the user and the Principal Contractor, so that both the task and any hazards involved can be identified. This planning should be undertaken as part of the overall planning before the tower crane is installed on site and should consider the climbing down of the tower crane as well as climbing up.