When it arrives from Europe in July, the first high-reach work platform to join Abilene High Lift Aerial’s fleet will be the tallest of its kind in North America.
The Abilene, Texas-based company plans to rent the giant lifting device to utility operators, wind-turbine technicians, tall-building contractors, moviemakers and anyone else who needs to go as high as 328 ft above ground with up to 1,100 lb of equipment and workers.
The “staggering capability” drew the firm’s attention, says Steve Roth, president of Abilene High Lift Aerial. “That, coupled with the availability of an existing machine versus waiting for one to be manufactured, made this attractive.”
The self-contained, trailer-mounted lift, known as the Steiger TTS1000, is one of only two built by German manufacturer Ruthmann GmbH & Co. When first put to work in 2003 by a German rental company, it was the world’s highest-reaching rig. Finnish manufacturer Bronto Skylift now offers a record-beating model that reaches about 12 ft higher, but none are operating in North America.
Abilene says it will rent the machine with a trained operator. Set-up takes about 10-15 minutes by one person. The unit is supported by hydraulic outriggers. Its main mast features five telescoping sections, and the bucket is connected to a two-section telescoping arm. In addition to reaching up, the machine can lower the bucket as much as 46 ft below grade. Automatic safety limiters prevent use beyond designed working areas.
The TTS1000 is built on an integral, six-axle semi-trailer. Abilene High Lift Aerial is replacing the original Mercedes European tractor with an American rig better suited to work domestically. The new tractor is a six-axle, all-wheel-drive Mack Granite model whose 505-hp diesel engine meets 2011 model-year U.S. emissions standards.
Mack has sent the tractor to Germany so Ruthmann can fit it up to the TTS1000’s trailer. The tractor-trailer unit roads at about 176,000 lb., which will require a special permit.
The TTS1000 doesn’t just reach high; it also has a massive working envelope. Aside from the extreme vertical reach, the lift can extend out horizontally as much as 131 ft while carrying 1,100 lb of tools, materials and people. The machine also is rated to work in winds up to 35.8 mph at any height or platform position—a condition that is unsuitable for most typical cranes and aerial work platforms.
“Since we are located in the center of such a large wind-energy market, wind-energy service companies are our potential customers,” Roth says.