An Austrian manufacturer has rolled out one of the world's tallest aerial lifts, with a platform height of 330 ft. Mounted on a mobile crane chassis, the high-reacher aims to service wind farms.
Interest in new ways to access tall wind turbines—besides ropes—has grown with increasing infrastructure. More than 61,000 MW of generation capacity is active in 46,000 turbines across 39 states, reports the American Wind Energy Association. Wind experts estimate that at least 50% of these turbines require high-reach aerials for maintenance.
"Wind towers 10 years ago were 60 meters, and five years ago the standard was 80 meters. Now, the standard is 90, 100 and up," says Scott E. Sasser, sales and product manager for Palfinger North America, the Niagara Falls, Ontario-based subsidiary of Palfinger AG.
In addition to its height and $2.75-million cost, the unit has a maximum horizontal outreach of 118 ft. It is suited for specialized rental fleets. Depending on ground conditions, setup takes about 15 minutes. It rides on a five-axle Tadano crane carrier that is road-legal in the U.S. but may require permits in some states.
Finnish producer Bronto Skylift builds the world's tallest aerial lift, the S-112-HLA, which reaches over 360 ft. However, it is not yet available in the U.S.
These machines address challenges specific to wind turbines, such as their gusty locations and difficult terrain. The P1000 carrier and boom provide what Sasser calls a "comfortable" ride, and the platform can hold up to 1,320 lb while operating in 28-mile-per-hour winds. The outriggers can extend in multiple lengths to handle congested areas.
Palfinger showed the unit at CONEXPO earlier this year in Las Vegas. It has built 30 units globally and will have shipped, by the end of the year, seven to the U.S. An insulated model, the P650i, with a maximum platform height of 207 ft, is planned for next year.