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Posted: November 1, 2016
Last modified: January 19, 2017

Height: About 15 feet tall, not including the extendable boom arm
Weight: 260,000 pounds
Lifting Power: 130 tons – equal to about 20 adult elephants, 50 SUVs or 1,460 adult humans
Typical Tasks: Lifting heavy construction materials and pile driving
Manufactured: Richlands, Virginia

Big changes require big tools, and along the 21-mile stretch of the I-4 Ultimate Project, residents and motorists have been noticing some very large pieces of machinery jutting up into the sky.

One of those is the Tadano Mantis crane, which is set on what many people call tractor treads. It can pick up a massive load and then hold it up and out of the way while driving to a spot nearby.

Mobile and powerful, the big blue crane is one those essential pieces of equipment that are beginning to loom above the project. The crane was selected for the job by SGL – the design-build, joint-venture team of Skanska, Granite and Lane – for its ability work in relatively compact spaces. It also complies with Tier 4 emissions standards – currently the highest standard set by EPA.

The crane has a telescopic boom – the long, strong lifting arm – that quickly extends from 42 to 155 feet (about half the length of a football field). The retractable arm allows the Tadano Mantis to move under bridges and elevated roadways without prolonged lane closures or delays.

“This makes it more convenient for moving under and in between objects without having to disassemble and reassemble the boom every time we are in these types of situations,” said Phil Picone, SGL Project Equipment Manager.

Safety features include the hydraulic boom that can retract quickly in the event of thunderstorms and exterior cameras that allow the operator a wide field of vision.

The cranes are inspected by operators on a daily basis with thorough monthly and annual examinations by certified inspectors. Before the crane can lift objects, detailed lift plans are reviewed by engineers and inspectors for safety, Picone said.

Inside the cab, the operator has electronic screens with readouts on the crane’s performance, indicators of wind speed, and a warning system that alerts, if the wind, loads or movements approach safety limits. Much of that data also is transmitted to a central monitoring station.

“We have a very stringent safety program to assure the safety of our people and surroundings,” Picone said.