Made to build: 10 of the world's largest machines
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Building a kilometre high tower like the Kingdom Tower should remind us that size really does mean everything in the world of machines.
Fortunately advances in engineering, technology and materials means that envelope can keep getting pushed out further, higher and heavier.
With that in mind, we’ve scoured over, under and above the earth to find the mightiest machines that show that when it comes to man’s ingenuity there really is not limit.
1. Takraf’s terrain tormentor
When people first saw the MAN TAKRAF RB293 they thought it was something out of a nightmare.
Machines like this are not produced but constructed, and since its gigantic bucket wheel was mounted onto its superstructure in 1995, the Bagger 293 remains the world’s largest vehicle.
The Bucket-wheel excavator is 95m tall, 225m long and weighs 14,200 tons. It is so big that it takes five people to operate.
The enormous bucket-wheel itself is over 20m in diameter and each of its 20 buckets can hold over 15m3 of material.
Huge construction projects call for the biggest machinery in the world.
2. Bridge behemoth
The F60 is the series designation of five overburden conveyor bridges used in brown coal (lignite) opencast mining in the Lusatian coalfields in Germany.
They were built by the former Volkseigener Betrieb TAKRAF in Germany and are the largest movable technical industrial machines in the world. As overburden conveyor bridges, they transport the overburden which lies over the coal seam.
The cutting height is 60m and it has been likened to an Eiffel tower lying down, although with a length of 502m it is 200m longer.
There are still four F60s in operation in the Lusatian coalfields today: in the brown coal opencast mines in Jänschwalde (Brandenburg, near Jänschwalde Power Station), Welzow-Süd (Brandenburg, near Schwarze Pumpe Power Station), Nochten and Reichwalde (Saxony, both near Boxberg Power Station). The fifth F60, the last one built, is in Lichterfeld-Schacksdorf and is accessible to visitors.
Cuthead diameter: 15.62 m
3. Taisun’s titan
The Taisun crane is the world's largest working dual-beam gantry crane and was first used in the northeastern province of Shandong, China.
Named after the province's famous sacred mountain Taisun, the 22,000-ton lifting capacity gantry is owned by Yantai Raffles Shipyard and set a new heavy lift world record 22,146-ton launch barge in 2008.
The crane holds the record for the three heaviest lifts of all time: 20,133mt, 17,100mt and 14,000mt.
Traditionally, offshore vessels such as drilling semi submersibles or FPSOs were built from the ground up in modules of 1000 to 2000 tons, which meant that much installation, hook up and commissioning work was left to be done on board where access is limited and efficiency lower. The crane allows for the construction of the lower and upper parts of a vessel creating shorter overall project schedules.
Max Capacity: 20,133t
Production began: 2007
4. Sarens SGC-120
Belgium manufacturer The Sarens Group claimed its SGC-120 giant crane was the first true heavy-lift crane in the world when it was first announced in January this year.
It is certainly a true weight weighing in at 120,000t and is capable of lifting 3,200 tonnes.
Moving into the market for big modular lifts, the 120,000tm SGC-120 can use its six winches, twin booms and specially designed ropeblock to lift a maximum of 3,200t. It can lift 600t at a radius of 100m.
According to Sarens the crane meets all US and European Lift Crane Standards and is CE certified. It added that the crane is designed to accommodate the heavy-lifting requirements for refineries, the oil and gas industry, mining, offshore platforms and third-generation components for nuclear power plants.
The construction and testing of the SGC‐120 was completed in March 2011.
Max Capacity: 3,200t
Max load extension: 600t @ 100m
Production began: 2010
5. Sany SCC86000TM
Sany’s crawler crane SCC86000TM could turn out to be as big a landmark for the Chinese industry as it is in size.
The SCC86000TM boasts a chest-bursting maximum lifting capacity of 3,600 tons and Sany claims its maximum torque and capacity is way ahead of the 3,200t maximum its rivals manage in terms of lifting and torsion force.
The SCC86000TM began production this year and includes 30 individual patents, and the company sees it as a statement of intent in the global marketplace. Small wonder, its single boom section technology, dual main chord and dual super lift crawler carriage have all been submitted for international patents in the US and Germany.
Max lift capacity: 3,600t
Max torque: 86,000t
Production began: 2011
6. The Space Crawler
The retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle will not see the end of the unsung heroes of its space programme, the crawler-transporters.
Once used to move the Saturn V from its vast vehicle assembly facility to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, the crawler-transporters are engineering marvels in themselves.
Each crawler-transporter has a mass of 2,721 tonnes and has eight tracks, two on each corner. Each track has 57 shoes, and each ‘shoe’ weighs 900kg. The vehicle measures 40 m by 35 m. The height from ground level to the platform is adjustable from 6.1 m to 7.9 m, and each side can be raised and lowered independently of the other.
7. Liebherr’s huge scope
What’s bigger than a monster truck? Well, the Liebherr LTM 11200-9.1 may just be the answer.
Four years after its launch, the huge mobile crane remains the longest telescopic boom in the world.
The massive boom comes in eight parts and fully extended is 16m longer than previous record holder the LTM 1500-8.1. And at 100m long it is taller than Big Ben when it is fully extended.
The LTM 11200-9.1 is almost as strong as it is long and cope with loads of 1,200-plus tonnes. If being able to reach 100m isn’t high enough you can add a lattice jib to reach almost 200m, the height of the Al Muntaha restaurant on the Burj Al Arab.
Max Capacity: 1,200t
Max height: 100m
Production began: 2007
8. Boring brute
The world’s largest tunnel boring machine, the Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) Shield, developed by Herrenknecht, an absolute brute.
One of the giant machines is currently churning away at the heart of Italy with the machine expected to finish boring out two 2.4km tunnels between Bologna and Florence in 2013.
It takes three months to build the machine and is 15m in diameter, 120m long, and weighs 4,300t.
Keeping the cuthead turning takes 12,000kw and it uses a combination of tungsten carbide cutting bits, carbide disc cutters and hard rock disc cutters to bore away.
Cuthead diameter: 15.62 m
9. Formidable Floater
The semi-submersible Thialf crane vessel is the largest crane vessel in the world. Operated by Heerema Marine Contractors, the Thialf, was built by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding in 1985.
The world's largest floating crane ship is 201.6 m long and is semi-submersible barge with a lifting capacity of 14,200t.
Thialf has two cranes with a combined maximum lifting capacity of 14,200 metric tons, making it the largest crane vessel in the world. It is equipped with a class III dynamic positioning system. Propulsion and position keeping is by six 5,500 kW retractable azimuthing thrusters. For shallow waters there are 12 Flipper Delta anchors, 22.5 t, with 2,500 meter, 80 mm mooring wire.
The hull consists of two pontoons with four columns each. Transit draught is about 12 meters. For lifting operations it will normally be ballasted down to 26.6 m (87 ft). This way the pontoons (with a draught of 13.6 meters) are well submerge
10. Pump powerhouses
Both Sany and Putzmeister lay claim to having the world’s longest concrete pump truck.
According to the Guiness Book of Records, Sany Heavy Industry holds the record for the longest boom of a truck-mounted concrete pump. The record of 71.535m was set on the 3 August 2009.
While Sany may be the record holder, Putzmeister claims its own 70m-plus machine is the only one in use. Its experience with Burj Khalifa also puts in prime position for pouring on concrete for the envelope-pushing and gravity defying Kingdom Tower project in Saudi.