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How does the future look? Will there ever be flying cars? Perhaps flying cranes? Who knows...
... but one thing is certain – the Liebherr crane of the immediate future looks pretty sleek – it is powerful, efficient, comfortable and straightforward. Marc-André Bader has known all about our crane of the future for more than a year now. Nobody has spent more time with the prototype than he. So we took the opportunity to take a look at the new crane in the company of Marc-André – the LTM 1110-5.2 with the LICCON3 control system.
Up close and personal – Marc-André Bader collected the first prototype of the brand new LTM 1110-5.2 featuring the new control system from the final assembly hall in summer 2020. “That was a very special feeling for me when I climbed into the first ever version of this crane. Quite simply because it is the crane of the future and it has been completely redesigned”, he remembers. “At first, everything was unfamiliar, of course, as the new controls look different. Due to its really simple, intuitive design, which our colleagues from the control system and general design departments created, however, it quickly becomes very familiar. There are a lot of similarities between it and the LICCON2.”
There are worlds of difference between a dry clutch and the new wet starting clutch!
Marc-André then drove his new hobby horse onto the Technical Trial Department test site. This is where he has been spending his working days since 2017 – successfully completing a very exciting job. He continues: “In the Trial Department, you’re always one of the first to get hold of new developments. That makes for a very varied working day and you have loads of opportunities to bring in your own ideas and help to design the cranes.”
The first few days working with the new LTM 1110-5.2 were all about getting the basic functions to work. “The basics initially included powering up the control system and completing the initial crane movements in emergency mode”, says Marc-André, thinking back to his first days with his charge. “Then we moved onto standard mode. The switch to the new controls was absolutely no problem.” Marc-André and his colleagues from the Technical Trial Department work very closely with the development departments. There are regular meetings and consultations about topics which have to be revised. The man from the Trial Department continues: “In urgent cases, I just get in touch with the programmers when I need some help quickly. The mutual collaboration works very well and is reliable.” The basic functions of the control system have now been ironed out in the prototype – with a large number of finishing touches and features now being implemented after they proved their worth on LICCON2.
“A crane operator will not notice any major differences in the functions for operating the crane”, says Marc-André. Liebherr decided to develop the new LICCON3 control system to make it suitable for the demands of the future with a faster data bus, significantly more storage space and greater computer power. The third generation of the LICCON (Liebherr Computed Controlling) control system uses the same control procedures and overall has a number of familiar features. A new large display with a touchscreen function in the superstructure cab now makes it even easier and more comfortable to operate the crane. “The large screen makes it possible to operate the crane without moving the seat position. That is much more comfortable. The control and display units also provide more information, which is displayed in a very clear and self-explanatory way using icons. The brackets and the USB chargers for smartphones and tablets are also really practical,” says Marc-André, describing his first hand experience with the new crane.
The team from the Technical Trial Department works outdoor or in the crane operator’s cab in both summer and winter whatever the weather. “It was very pleasant being able to try out the new drinks coolbox in the driver's cab in temperatures of 35° Celsius during the summer. We also had to make a few improvements to the new automatic climate control system. This creates a pleasant climate in the cab at the touch of a button. You just set the temperature – and the system does everything else,” adds Marc-André. And during the current dark winter months in Germany, the optional LED lighting has shown exactly how good it is. “The lighting is really good. The crane and the surrounding area is very well illuminated during darkness, which is a major plus for site safety,” says Marc-André enthusiastically. “The central locking is another great addition. Opening and locking by remote is very convenient. The integral access lights also make accessing the superstructure much safer!”
Liebherr continued to follow its development plan with the chassis as well – familiar but ready for the future. The LTM 1110-5.2 is based on the LTM 1110-5.1 with LICCON2 control system, which was first unveiled in 2019. That model was also developed and built to be pioneering. VarioBase®Plus, ECOmode and ECOdrive, a quick-change system for ballast slabs and load charts for different wind speeds are just some of the features of this innovative crane concept.
“The main innovation in the drivetrain on the LTM 1110-5.2 is the first ever use of the TraXon gearbox with the new DynamicPerform clutch module,” explains Martin Dony, an engineer in the Design and Development of Crane Chassis Department. “The wet starting clutch transfers the engine power using integral discs which are cooled by an oil system. This means that multiple starting procedures, even on gradients, and permanent, zero wear manoeuvring is possible without the clutch overheating or suffering wear.” On page 85 in the section entitled “Simply explained”, Martin Dony tells us more about the background to the wet starting clutch for the TraXon DynamicPerform gearbox system and how it works. Josef Schick, Trial Department Manager, continues delightedly: “All the development challenges were overcome. We can safely say that there are worlds of differential between a dry clutch and the new wet starting clutch! The close collaboration with ZF and intense testing means that the gearbox version is now ready for widespread use.” And there is a minor addition to the drivetrain – the emissions treatment system on the diesel engine with SCR catalytic converter and particulate filter has now been certified for both Europe and the USA. This is a major advantage, particularly for international crane contractors.
Our engineers have also added a new feature to the active rear axle steering – the signal transfer to the sensors has been significantly improved. This reduces the number of failures and increases the level of availability. A plus point for greater economy – the hydraulic switching of the active rear axle steering has been improved so that it reduces fuel consumption.
Our engineers Reiner Keller and André Glanzer created the design for the driver's cab working with the Design Tech design agency based in Ammerbuch (Germany). “The challenge with developing a new driver's cab was the combination of design, functionality and comfort,” says Reiner Keller. “A good design stands out through its clear forms, practical control concept and the use of appropriate materials. The result is an ergonomic workplace perfectly tailored to the crane driver.” This was also confirmed by a large number of crane drivers at Bauma 2019. This is where the prototype of this new driver’s cab design was first unveiled. In addition, a number of suggested improvements and ideas were adopted for the series cab.
The new driver's cab was rewarded with the renowned American GOOD DESIGN® Award 2020 in the “Transportation” category. The GOOD DESIGN® Awards were started in 1950 and are awarded to the most innovative and modern industry, product and graphic designs from all over the world.
This article was published in the UpLoad magazine 01 | 2022.