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Liebherr debuts 700-t ‘Blue Beast’ all-terrain crane in North America


September 24, 2021
By Crane & Hoist Canada Staff

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The Liebherr LTM1650-8.1 "Blue Beast" in Ohio. Photo: Liebherr

Liebherr’s “Blue Beast,” an all-terrain crane with an extra-large lifting capacity on eight axles, has made its North American debut.

The crane, which the company says has the largest lifting capacity in the industry, was delivered to a jobsite at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Liebherr LTM 1650-8.1, called the “Blue Beast” because of its cobalt blue paint job, performed its inaugural lift for ALL Erection & Crane Rental, the flagship branch of the ALL Family of Companies.

Introduced at Bauma in 2019, the made-to-order LTM 1650-8.1 is Liebherr’s successor to the LTM 1500-8.1. It ups the ante with a 700-tonne (770 US-t) capacity, exceeding its predecessor’s capacity by between 15 and 50 per cent, depending on the equipment package selected.

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The Liebherr LTM1650-8.1 “Blue Beast” in Ohio. Photo: Liebherr

Close setup

The LTM 1650-8.1 is able to set up close to buildings and obstructions while safely maintaining its swing, a first in the market for all-terrain cranes of this size.

This is also offered by the VarioBallast system, which provides high performance with a smaller ballast radius. Ballast radius can be infinitely adjusted between 6.4 and 8.4 metres (21 and 27.5 feet) using a simple hydraulic slewing mechanism.

The job at the VA hospital involved construction of a mechanical room and lifting six air handler sections. The crane was set up on the street and had to lift over another building to reach the work area.

“Given where we had to set up the crane, higher-capacity machines wouldn’t have fit, and cranes small enough to fit couldn’t lift the necessary weight at that distance,” says Brian Meek, equipment specialist for ALL Crane.

The Liebherr LTM1650-8.1 “Blue Beast” in Ohio. Photo: Liebherr

Boom configuration

The LTM 1650-8.1 also has two telescopic boom lengths at 54 or 80 metres (177 or 263 feet) with an easy change system, adding great flexibility. The long boom system is available when needed, and the short one reduces transport costs and setup time.

The long boom configuration is also ideal for long-reach, up-and-over applications, providing additional luffing jib strength – just like conditions encountered in the inaugural job.

‘Packs a punch’

In this instance, 22 metres (73 feet) of main boom included 87 metres (287 feet) of luffing jib. It could easily handle the seven-tonne (17,000-pound) air handler sections, each nine metres (30 feet) long.

The operator picked each section from a flatbed parked on the street, lifted and swung over the interceding building, and set each piece atop the target structure behind it.

“It has the footprint of a 500-tonne crane and packs the punch of a 700-tonne crane,” says Meek. “I’m excited to see what doors this crane will open to new kinds of jobs.”