Crane Terrain

Since its formation in 2000, City Crane Trucks in Adelaide has grown exponentially to meet the ever-increasing demands of customers. The company’s fleet includes 15 Volvo trucks, the newest of which sports what’s claimed to be the largest truck-mounted crane in Australia.

In addition to its core lifting capabilities, City Crane Trucks offers a diverse range of transport services ranging from general freight to heavy haulage and oversize loads – for which the company also takes care of the necessary permits and pilot escorts.

Its transport services cover metropolitan Adelaide, regional South Australia and interstate destinations.

The wide range of lifting, recovery and trailing equipment the company operates includes self-loading crane trucks, all-terrain forklifts, tilt trays, a super tilt tray, tray-top rigids, floats, extendables, flat-tops and drop-deck semi-trailers.

According to City Crane Trucks Managing Director, Bruno Simone, the company has been buying Volvo trucks for the past 15 years and is very pleased with the performance, comfort and durability of the vehicles.

“The drivers really appreciate the European comfort and I have had a long and productive relationship with our local Volvo dealer, South Central Truck & Bus, and in particular two of the salesmen Bill Smith and Jason Templer,” Bruno says. “I like to try and keep the fleet as uniform as possible and the Volvos have been good and reliable for me so I’ve continued to buy them.”

Bruno mentions that all aspects of the brand and the dealer – from sales, service and delivery point – have been consistently good and he has had no reason to look elsewhere. “It started off good and has remained that way ever since, so why would I want to change?” Bruno says.

Interestingly, Bruno started out in the year 2000 working for a taxi truck company and at that stage had no real inclination to operate crane trucks.

But as is often the way, the crane work presented itself as an opportunity for him to carve out a niche in the industry, and Bruno grabbed it with both hands. “I’d bought a second-hand truck that had a crane mounted on it and my first job was delivering scaffolding,” Bruno relates.

“This involved hand loading and unloading so I didn’t really need the crane for that job but about that time there was a construction boom and I soon had plenty of people wanting me to work for them because I had a crane on my truck – which none of the other subcontractors working for the courier company had.”

Effer 955 7S + 4S Fly-Jib crane.

Bruno explains that the courier company’s rules didn’t allow its subbies to have other people driving their trucks, which precluded him from buying more trucks while working for that company.

So that’s when he made the decision to go out on his own and form City Crane Trucks.

“Back then I was ordering and buying a truck every couple of months and I’d be hiring and training another driver to operate it,” Bruno says. “Initially I was driving and running the business but by the time I had seven trucks I needed to stop driving and concentrate on answering the phone and organising all the work.”

Today, the family owned and operated company has a fleet of 40 trucks and a staff of over 60 people.

Bruno is assisted in the office by his wife Bernie who handles administration and accounts, while Bruno’s PA Lisa Simeone manages the payroll and, along with Sonya Murphy, helps Bernie with a range of other duties including admin and marketing.

Meanwhile, Bruno’s brother Pino is General Manager and Dispatch Operator, while Brock Heness and Simon Nicholls are the onsite Field Managers and Customer Relations Officers.

Rounding out the managerial team are Dispatch Co-ordinator David Waters and Matthew James who works in both the workshop and the office. The company’s specialty of lifting all manner of products has followed key investments in specialised equipment such as concrete and plasterboard grabs – including all the necessary attachments to go with the cranes.

There’s even an automatic concrete lifter that is used to lift the concrete barriers at roadworks sites. Without a doubt the most impressive crane truck in the fleet is the new Volvo FH 500 10×6 that supports what’s reported to be the largest truck-mounted crane in Australia.

The Effer 955 7S + 4S Fly-Jib crane was fitted to the big Volvo by lifting equipment specialist, Maxilift Australia. The unit is said to be capable of lifting 1,330kg at 27.73m reach with a maximum lift capacity of more than 24 tonnes.

In fact, the unit can reportedly perform the same tasks as a 100-tonne mobile crane. The engineering process was the first step of co-ordinating the project, with Maxilift’s engineering team first completing theoretical axle load and stability calculations to determine the overall concept of the build.

Following this, according to Maxilift Australia Product Manager, Hayden Niscioli, the subframe design began.

“After the general direction of the build was decided upon, our engineers completed high level and detailed stress analysis on every bolt hole, weld and surface to tweak the final design and validate the numbers,” Hayden says – adding that validation of the design by Volvo Group Australia was another critical step in the engineering process.

“The project also required design registration to be completed by SafeWork SA as well as Performance-Based Standards approval by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).”

The crane has a number of useful performance and safety features including a removable fly-jib, 2.5-tonne winch, Effer remote access system (RACE) and advanced stability system (SENSE).

“The Progress 2.0 system coupled with Effer’s advanced stability system, SENSE, allows the operator to have ultimate control of the crane in any situation while always remaining in a safe working condition,” Hayden says. “The system enables lifting capacity relative to how far out the stabilisers are set.

“Also, the operator only needs to have the stabilisers deployed on the sides on which the crane is working, thus reducing the crane’s footprint on tight job sites.”

Bruno echoes these sentiments, noting among the many advantages of this new unit are the fast setup time, simple one-person operation and the fact that the crane truck is also towing a tandem-axle trailer to bring the load to the jobsites.

“This provides us with some real efficiencies in terms of labour hours per job and it also limits the number of vehicles onsite,” he says. “The crane truck is self-sufficient, with all lifting gear and operators in the one vehicle. The Volvo truck is very comfortable with the latest in driver assist technologies which equates to added safety for the crane operators who arrive onsite refreshed and alert.”

Bruno mentions that the process of getting the vehicle over the line was complex and time consuming but that, in the end, the result made it all worthwhile. “This is one of the first Road Friendly twin-steer tri-drive prime movers in Australia and it’s taken 18 months for the NHVR to complete the approvals for it,” Bruno says.

“It pulls an 11m long extendable bogie-axle trailer which extends to 16m and has general access with a payload of 14 tonnes and a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 51.5 tonnes. It also has the capacity to lift fully loaded 20’ containers on and off trailers.”

The combination will be mainly used to carry timber trusses, structural steel and roofing to building sites where the crane can lift it off the trailer and onto the building in one fell swoop, eliminating the usual double handling. “With this combination we can pick up the load, deliver it and lift it straight up for the construction workers to bolt it in place,” Bruno says.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Bruno is already planning to build an even bigger unit based on another Volvo chassis that will offer all the advantages of a mobile crane with the benefit of faster travel times between jobs. In common with the current unit this one will also have a stabiliser at the front to enable 360-degree slew operation.

For Bruno, it’s all part of an ongoing philosophy of continually upping the ante in the lifting game in which, after 20 years, he is firmly entrenched.

Volvo FH 500 10×6.
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