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OETIO campus erects new tower crane

January 10, 2018  By Grant Cameron

Finishing touches have been put on a new tower crane and six-storey steel support structure at the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO) campus in Oakville, Ont.

The yellow Liebherr 85 EC-B5 was erected and a support structure was built around the base so students can be trained in both top- and bottom-climbing procedures. The structure is necessary for the tower crane to be raised and lowered, like it would be on a worksite.

Training staff, apprentices and representatives from Morrow Equipment Co. recently completed a bottom-climb test of the crane. A top-climb test was done earlier in the year.

The crane has a lifting capacity of 5,000 kilograms and is equipped with an extra-large cab for training students. The OETIO is the only training centre that offers top- and bottom-climbing crane procedures.

“This new tower crane is a great addition to our fleet of cranes and training equipment,” said Local 793 business manager and IUOE vice-president Mike Gallagher. “It will complement our existing program and crane simulation and puts us at the very forefront of crane training.”


Preparations for the tower crane began late last year when an existing tower crane was dismantled and sent to the OETIO training campus in Morrisburg, Ont.

A concrete pad for the new tower crane was poured last December by Local 793 member Craig Agar of Pumpcrete, using the OETIO’s own concrete pump.

The crane was erected in May 2017. Crews then began working on the permanent support structure. Vertical columns of the structure were erected first and then beams were attached. Several floors and a staircase were installed later. The steel structure was designed by Mark Wojcik of Burrell & Associates Inc.

Local 793 operator Paul Creighton, who works for Niagara Rigging and Erecting Company, helped with the steel erection. He operated a 50-ton LinkBelt rough terrain crane. The crane extends three floors higher than the surrounding steel structure. It is now operational and instructors at the OETIO are developing a curriculum to train tower crane apprentices and operators in top- and bottom-climbing procedures.

Gallagher said the crane was purchased and installed because the union wants to ensure the OETIO remains a world-class training facility.

“By purchasing and installing this crane, we are really showing a commitment to our industry and our contractors partners,” he said. “We are always looking for ways to improve our training and offer new courses to members that are relevant to the industry. “By investing in equipment such as the new tower crane, we can continue to train apprentices and operators and contribute to the growth and prosperity of the construction industry in Ontario.”

Local 793 vice-president Joe Dowdall, who is the union’s director of training and apprenticeship and worked as a tower crane operator, said it’s important that preparations for top- and bottom-climbing a crane are done according to the instructions in the crane manufacturer’s manual and also that post-op procedures are followed.

“Crane operators and apprentices are the ones who sit in the crane after it has been raised and are responsible for its safe operation. They need to understand the importance of ensuring that all aspects of the climb have been followed. They need to understand what areas on the crane or tower they need to inspect during daily operations as well. This type of training is long overdue and I’m very happy that we now have a tower crane and structure where we are able to perform this type of training.”

Dowdall said he was very pleased at how smooth the crane could be bottomclimbed within the climbing frame and how it was top climbed when a section was inserted to increase the height of the tower.

“The hydraulic system worked effortlessly and we were able to raise and lower the crane to the desired height without any problem,” he said.

Dowdall adds that he is confident the OETIO will have the best training curriculum developed soon to make sure apprentices and operators are trained to the highest standards for the industry.

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