The era of one of the most successful crane models ever produced at the Liebherr plant in Ehingen is slowly coming to an end. The thousandth LTM 1200-5.1 mobile crane recently rolled off the assembly line at the crane factory. However, its successor is already conquering construction sites around the world – the Liebherr LTM 1230-5.1.
Over mountains and through valleys in green and yellow
“Curtain up!” was the call around a year ago when Liebherr unveiled the new mobile crane to its guests who had arrived in numbers at its customer days. And the new model equipped with more power and lots of modern features was immediately welcomed by the trade public. Angela Hess-Christen and her brother Adrian Christen from Switzerland were among those who had travelled to Ehingen in June last year to attend the event when the prototype finished in black was proudly unveiled. “As its 75 metre telescopic boom makes this mobile crane ideal for all the construction crane erection jobs we receive, we decided on the spot to place an order for this innovative machine,” says Hess-Christen, who holds the position of Chair of the Board of Directors of Christen Holding AG based in Küssnacht, Switzerland.
So it made perfect sense that the first model in this new crane series was handed over to Christen in April with a small celebration. Adrian Christen, who holds the position of Chairman of the Logistics Division at the company came with his sister to Ehingen, together with Christian Betschart, the future crane operator, to take delivery of the LTM 1230-5.1 which had been painted in the company’s green and yellow colours. As far as Adrian Christen was concerned, the decision to purchase the crane at the time was a quick one: “It is replacing an LTM 1200-5.1 that is only six years old. Although we normally do not replace our cranes until they are around ten years old, in this case the increase in performance and new technology made up our minds.” The VarioBase® variable support base, twenty percent higher lifting capacity and the fact that the telescopic boom is three metres longer are just some of the features of the new development. Furthermore, a 43 metre jib enables the LTM 1230-5.1 to reach a hook height of 111 metres – remarkable for a crane in its lifting capacity class.
But before the new green and yellow monster was able to show off its strengths on Swiss construction sites, the brand new mobile crane was driven past Lake Constance to Reiden in the Canton of Lucerne. This small town is where Liebherr has its sales and service outlet for Switzerland. For two whole days, Matthias Oberli, a Service Technician at Liebherr, provided the future crane operator with extensive training and familiarised him with his new tool in minute detail. Christian Betschart was also delighted by the fact that the control elements in the crane had not undergone any massive change despite it having lots of new features. “That is really good for us drivers. I also appreciate the greater safety that the new crane delivers through VarioBase®, for example.”
Betschart and his crane underwent a baptism of fire around a week later. It was a small “Cessna 185” seaplane that the team from Christen had to place on the hook – and at a gross weight of around two tonnes, it was hardly a challenge for the crane which had plenty of capacity in reserve. But the attractive location at the site of the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne, the most popular museum in Switzerland, and a large number of spectators made the moment one to look forward to. Against a backdrop of aircraft, locomotives and other high quality exhibits, inserting the Cessna into a large basin not only marked the opening of the “Switzerland in the Air” exhibition, but also provided a worthy occasion for the new crane to perform its first job.
The new member of the Christen fleet has now completed a number of other jobs. The erection of a construction crane on the day after its premiere at the museum was a more common event in the everyday life of an LTM 1230-5.1. After the first few weeks in his new machine, Betschart, who had been driving the Liebherr 200-tonne crane for the last few years, was delighted by the “lots of small details” which, he reported enthusiastically, make his working life significantly easier. “What’s more, the crane is absolutely lovely to drive.”, says Betschart with deep satisfaction.
To ensure that this satisfaction from its business partners continues in the future, Liebherr is renowned for attaching a great deal of value to customer support and service. Around 290 men and women at the service centre in Reiden and in Daillens, the outlet for the French-speaking part of the country, together with service technicians on sites, provide care and support for their Swiss crane and construction machinery customers. Liebherr Ehingen GmbH alone has around 150 companies with a total of 300 mobile and crawler cranes on its customer list. And all of them want high quality after-sales care. Adrian Christen is in a good position to assess the quality of this support: “In general we are very satisfied with Liebherr and the staff at the service centre in Reiden. We are taken very seriously as customers and that is very much appreciated by our mechanics as well.”
Christen and Liebherr have had a close, fruitful partnership for decades. In 1952, three years after Swabian mechanical engineering pioneer and company founder Hans Liebherr had designed his first rail-mounted construction crane in Kirchdorf, Alois Christen-Reichmuth senior laid the foundation stone for the current group of companies based at the foot of Mount Rigi. Business relationships were established very early with the Swiss company also repeatedly buying excavators and construction cranes from Liebherr. Mobile cranes were then added to this list in the mid-seventies. Around 70 years later, sole trading company “Alois Christen, Baugeschäft” in Küssnacht on Lake Lucerne has now become a group of companies with four divisions and a workforce numbering almost 300. The Logistics Division, which is active in Switzerland and neighbouring countries, has a staff of 45 currently operating nine mobile cranes with lifting capacities of up to 400 tonnes.