“For a job that size, we would use two of our 250-ton cranes and do a tandem lift,” explained Ray Solley, president of Solley Crane Service.
With its recent acquisition of the 600-ton (544 t) capacity class Terex AC 500-2 all terrain crane, that same 140-ton piece can now be lifted with a single crane, with room to spare. In addition to saving time and money from mobilizing fewer cranes and equipment, “any time you can make a lift with a single crane, it is relatively safer, as it involves less complexity,” added Ronnie Solley, vice president of Solley Crane Service.
Shortly after receiving delivery of the new crane, the company put it to work at the Cullman, Ala., railroad yard. They mobilized the AC 500-2 crane and equipment in six truckloads to off-load new press parts for a local automotive parts manufacturer.
“The biggest press part was too heavy and large to transport it long distances over the road,” said Ray Solley.
While the crane’s counterweight and boom sections were transported to the job site on lowboy trailers, the AC 500-2 was quickly driven to the railroad facility.
“With the largest press part weighing 140 tons, the crane required only 110 tons of its 195 tons of counterweight, so we had plenty of capacity left,” said Ronnie Solley.
Putting his extensive crane and heavy equipment experience to good use, Tony Grisham, Solley Crane’s field superintendent, and the Solley Crane crew were able to have the crane ready to lift on the day after the crane was loaded out for the job site.
The six truckloads represented a sizeable reduction in the number of transport vehicles it takes to mobilize two conventional 250-ton (228 t) cranes. Additionally, according to Ray Solley, it saved the company about a half day of rigging on both ends of the job, “which saved us money.”
Over a four-day period at the railroad yard, the AC 500-2 and Solley Crane’s six crew members performed six lifts to transfer all the automotive press pieces. By far, the largest piece was the 140-ton base. Working at a 33-ft. (10 m) radius with 93.8-ft. (28.6 m) of boom, the AC 500-2 quickly lifted the 14-ft.-wide by 30-ft.-long by 15-ft.-high (4.3 by 9.1 by 4.6 m) object from the rail car and moved it to the transporter, so the piece could travel the final 6 mi. (9.7 km) to its destination.
“The press base was crated and had lifting eyes, so it was a straight forward rigging and lift job,” said Ray Solley.
Reducing the number of cranes at the congested railroad yard also improved lift efficiency. Just over 56-ft. (17 m) long, the Terex AC 500-2 boasts the shortest vehicle length of all the 600-ton capacity cranes.
“Accessibility was an issue at this job site, and it was easier using the single crane,” added Ray Solley.
“Both operators commented that it is a very smooth operating crane,” said Ronnie Solley.
Picking the Right Crane
The 600-ton Terex AC 500-2 all terrain crane represents a monumental shift for Solley Crane. When Ray Solley started the company 40 years ago, the thought of operating a crane and rigging service hadn’t yet entered his mind.
“I wanted to find a place for my family and put my civil engineering and construction experience to work,” he said.
Ray Solley initially focused on construction and maintenance projects for the heavy industrial businesses located in the Decatur market. The purchase of a used crane led to expansion into the concrete business.
“We were blessed with success, and we continued buying bigger and bigger cranes,” he recalled.
During the recession of the mid-1980s, the company transitioned away from the concrete business and evolved into the crane and rigging powerhouse it is today. To serve the diverse industrial, chemical, agricultural and utility business base in the region, Solley Crane amassed a wide variety of traditional, hydraulic, hydraulic truck and rough terrain cranes. It also offers helicopter crane service.
“We have 50 lifting pieces, and a large portion of the cranes are Terex,” said Ray Solley.
Most of the Terex cranes were purchased from Renegar-Driggers Machinery Co. Inc., a Terex Cranes distributor. The relationship dates back to the mid-1980s.
“Bob [Renegar] is an honorable man, and his word is his bond,” said Ray.
Bob Renegar, president of Renegar-Driggers Machinery Co. Inc., added, “Over the years, the relationship has grown into a great personal friendship as well as a business relationship.”
There was a problem, however, with Solley Crane’s varied fleet of lifting equipment.
“Until this year, Solley had a big gap in coverage for the industrial and utility markets,” said Renegar. “The 250-ton cranes were not big enough in either capacity or working radius.”
Renegar-Driggers approached Solley Crane with the concept of adding the compact 400-ton (362 t) capacity class Terex AC 350/6 crane to its fleet. However, Solley Crane had other needs.
“They had a need outside of the AC 350/6’s capacity,” said Renegar.
“We met with Ray, Ronnie, Randy Hetrick [Solley Crane’s heavy rigging project manager and safety director], and Frank Barker [Solley Crane’s vice president of marketing], went over the crane’s load charts and features, and finalized the deal” recalled Renegar.
“Its flexibility of configuration,” said Ronnie Solley, “was a key selling feature for us. The AC 500-2 would allow us to fill the void of a 400-ton crane and still have the additional capacity to do larger jobs.”
Solley Crane’s decision to jump from a 250-ton capacity class crane to a 600-ton crane was the right decision for a market filled with heavy industrial customers.
“Having the AC 500-2 opens up many more business opportunities for Solley Crane,” said Ake. “They are now capable of effectively covering the southeast region in addition to Decatur and the surrounding communities.”
What Solley Crane has in the AC 500-2 is a highly portable crane that is quick to set up.
“We can go 500 miles for a job just as easily as 100 miles,” said Ray Solley.
“In addition to excellent mobility, crane design makes it easy to add boom sections and jibs,” added Renegar.
The AC 500-2 offers a 183.7-ft. (56 m) telescoping boom and, with its 478.3-ft. (145.8 m) maximum system length, provides the longest length in the 600-ton capacity class that can travel at 13.25 tons (12 t) per axle.
“Having the crane makes us more competitive, and its high lift and high capacity opens up new markets for us,” said Ronnie Solley.
Ronnie Solley admitted that the company looked into purchasing a used crane rather than new. However, he said that the technology on new cranes is much better than the ones built even a few years ago.
“There are so many new safety features, and they are more operator friendly and [in the case of the AC 500-2] can calculate ground contact pressures on the outriggers.”
In addition to showing outrigger pressures, the IC-1 crane control system on the AC 500-2 stores all load charts and automatically selects the right chart based on crane configuration.
A number of jib options — including a 98.4-ft. (30 m) main boom extension and 204.7-ft. (62.4 m) light fixed jib — increase crane versatility. However, it is the crane’s 295.3-ft (90-m) luffing jib that Renegar sees as being most beneficial for Solley Crane and the market.
“The operator can extend the main boom out to get the height and then lay out the luffing jib, which makes this the ideal crane set-up for repair and service work at industrial plants,” he said.
Ronnie Solley agreed and added, “The luffing jib is easy to operate. One lever controls boom up and another lever booms down the luffer.”
The Terex AC 500-2 helped to increase Solley Crane’s flexibility and expand its market reach.
“We are finding that the market for this crane,” said Ronnie Solley, “works a little differently than with our other cranes. We are quoting rentals 6, 8 and 10 months out for planned maintenance downtime at the plants.”
As word is getting out, Solley Crane is quoting more customers from a wider geographical area.
About the Terex AC 500-2 All Terrain Crane
The AC 500-2 delivers low-load transportability and quick onsite set up for Sully Crane and offers a higher level of operating efficiency. Built to offer big lift capabilities in a compact design, the AC 500-2 delivers up to 600 ton capacity class and a maximum tip height of 478.3 ft. (145.8 m). Its 56.3-ft. (17.1 m) long undercarriage is the most compact in its class. When combined with its 16 x 8 x 14 axle configuration (axles 1-4 and 6-8 are steered, axle 5 is liftable and axles 1, 2, 4 & 5 driven), the AC 500-2 is one of the most mobile all-terrain cranes on the market, according to the manufacturer.
Its exclusive Sideways Superlift system enhances the main boom cross-section and reinforcement, boosting lift capacities.
“The Sideways Superlift is well engineered,” said Ronnie Solley. “We can leave it on the boom when transporting it to another site, which means we don’t have to keep dismantling it.”
Operator efficiency is improved on heavy-lift projects with the AC 500-2’s IC-1 crane control system, which stores all load charts. The system automatically selects the right charts, based on crane configuration, which is inputted by the operator via a user-friendly touchscreen. A working range limiter protects crane operators from pushing the crane’s lifting potential beyond configured limits. The crane’s star-type outriggers help reduce system deformation and provide an enhanced level of stability.
About Solley Crane Service
Established in Decatur, Ala. in 1972, Solley Crane Service grew out of Ray Solley’s realization that the local industry had a need for a contractor to service their plants. With his civil engineering and construction background, Ray Solley built a company that made available to the market skilled, experienced personnel and the necessary equipment that could be quickly mobilized.
Today, Solley Crane offers one of the most extensive fleets of industrial lifting equipment available in north Alabama. The equipment is continually updated to provide customers with sophisticated machinery, such as the Terex AC 500-2, to handle virtually any lifting application.
For more information on Solley Crane Service, visit www.solley.com.