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Potain and Grove tackle the Amalfi Coast

March 14, 2022  By Crane & Hoist Canada staff

Amalfi CoastGemar’s Potain MDT 189 tower crane overlooks the steep, narrow streets of Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the glittering Mediterranean Sea. (Image: Manitowoc)

The Amalfi Coast is known worldwide for its breathtaking views and enchanting landscapes, but the steep slopes and winding roads are far from ideal for transport and access for infrastructure projects.

The ongoing construction of a 160-space multi-story parking lot into a rockface surrounded by houses in Positano is a case in point.

Incorporating an elevator, the lot is essential to connect the road below to the one above where the town’s cemetery is located, which is currently difficult to access and served only by stairs.

The project required the demolition of part of the cliff with dynamite and the subsequent excavation of a 35 metre tunnel to access the elevator shaft. With the excavations now complete, a crane has been commissioned to lift the structural elements into place and construct the elevator shaft.


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The developer responsible for the project, Gemar, selected a Potain MDT 189 top-slewing tower crane for its specifications.

“For this specific project, the terrain and the fact that the site was on two levels led us to choose this type of crane. The Potain MDT 189 was the only crane with which we could serve both the lower and upper sites with just one solution,” explained architect Fabrizio Gargiulo from Gemar.

“The work would not have been possible without a crane that could cover the difference in height (60 metres) between the two levels. Without the Potain MDT 189, it would have been very difficult to get our job done.”

The MDT 189 was configured at the Amalfi Coast site with an 80 metre height under hook and 45 metre jib length. The crane was equipped with two trolleys and the Top Site Zone Control System, which creates no-go areas for jobsite operation. This was one of the features that helped convince Gemar that the MDT 189 was the right crane for the project.


Gemar expects the project to serve as a model for similar jobs in other towns alongside the rocky coastline. (Image: Manitowoc)

Manitowoc CCS

Part of the Potain MDT CCS tower crane range, the MDT 189 is equipped with the Manitowoc CCS crane control system, which accelerates operations, increases productivity and the degree of accuracy, at the same time as offering an integrated maintenance system allowing diagnostics and centralized interventions.

“The remote monitoring and diagnostics is a very useful feature for managing assistance, especially on small sites such as that in Positano,” said Luigi Russo, general manager of Edilcom Gru, a Manitowoc partner. “It is essential to check any malfunctions remotely and to promptly send the technicians to the construction site with the spare parts needed to fix the problem. It is also essential for our customer Gemar, who can constantly monitor all crane movements and structural stresses in real time.”

Logistics planning on the Amalfi Coast

Edilcom Gru was a valuable ally in the transport and assembly phases of the project.  The team was required to design it down to the smallest detail with work taking place at the first light of dawn to cause minimal disruptions and avoid the traffic.

“The construction site is particularly tiny and it was extremely difficult to find a place to unload the material and place the trucks and cranes,” Russo said. “Furthermore, from Sorrento to Amalfi the transit of heavy vehicles is forbidden so we had to coordinate the work in such a way that as soon as the material arrived it was immediately assembled.”

manitowoc cranes

A Grove GMK4100L-1 all-terrain crane is assembling the Potain MDT 189 tower crane to help construct a multi-story parking lot and elevator into the rockface. (Image: Manitowoc)

The perfect partner

Keeping it in the Manitowoc family, a four-axle Grove GMK4100L-1 all-terrain crane was the ideal machine to assemble the Potain MDT 189 due to its best-in-class load charts and compact design. The 60 metre main boom has seven sections and features the MEGAFORM boom design, which enhances its strength and makes it even more powerful.

With a vehicle width of just 2.55 metres, the GMK4100L-1 can easily travel to even the most confined job sites so that narrow roads leading to the jobsite on the cliff could be easily passed. In taxi configuration, the GMK4100L-1 can carry up to 6.7 tonnes of counterweight within 12 tonnes per axle. The all-wheel steering ensures superior steering both on- and off-road when terrain becomes more challenging, eliminating tire wear and stress on the non-steered axles.

The Grove 100 t all-terrain crane assembled the parts of Gemar’s Potain MDT 189 tower crane on the ground and mounted it to a height of 40 metres. A telescopic cage on the tower crane then enabled the team to reach a height of 70 metres.

So far, the assembly and operation of the Potain MDT 189 has proved a success and Gemar looks forward to deploying it on other projects in the future.

“We decided to buy the MDT 189 because we plan to also use it on other jobs. The crane is excellent and technically flawless. The entire Amalfi Coast is built in terraces, so we believe this could be a pilot project for neighboring towns, which are watching with attention and interest at what we are doing in Positano,” Gargiulo said.

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