Of the 30,000 cranes shipped to worldwide destinations by National Crane since 1963, more than 90 percent are still in operation. Gene Newman checks out this leading manufacturer of telescoping and articulating hydraulic cranes.
National Crane has not changed its business focus since its inception in 1963 as a small, family concern. Its philosophy of attracting strong distributors and ongoing product innovation contributed to its steady growth and, by the early 1970s, captured the interest of larger corporations with global markets. In 1978 the company was acquired by Kidde, Inc., a substantial, diversified corporation with significant holdings including Grove Manufacturing, a major producer of mobile hydraulic cranes for the world market.
In 1987, Kidde, Grove and National all merged into Hanson Industries, a top U.S. company and an arm of Hanson Trust PLC, an industrial giant based in Great Britain. In the spring of 1998, National and Grove, under the umbrella of the “Grove Worldwide Companies,” were acquired by a group of investors led by the investment organization of Robert M. Bass.
Valuable Family Ties
National’s alliance with Grove and the new owners provides a strong and stable financial base that encourages aggressive product development and maintains its manufacturing capabilities at industry-leading levels. In return, National brings to its parent companies its impeccable truck-mounted crane reputation, strong distribution network, and design expertise. The result is a dynamic design and manufacturing team with extensive marketing resources and a shared philosophy that includes continued product innovation.
With this strong foundation, National has become America’s truck-mounted hydraulic crane leader with the No. 1 ranking in North America as a manufacturer of telescoping cranes and as one of the top three North American articulating crane marketers.
National’s state-of-the-art 303,000-square-foot plant in Waverly, Neb., has grown in the last 36 years, keeping pace with its continuously improving market position and sales volume. About 450 employees turned out more than 1,500 units in 1998, working with a distributor network covering North America, Latin America. the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region.
Variety of Uses – The Spice of a Product Line
Virtually every industry has taken advantage of National’s expertise. The firm’s satisfied customer list includes all major U.S. railroads, the Army Corps of Engineers, general contractors nation-wide, and mega-sized construction companies like Bechtel and Peter Kiewit.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is one of National’s power-providing customers. Movie set and sports illumination specialists include Musco Lighting and B&B Lighting. National Crane also provided essential equipment for the set of Titanic, the 1997 blockbuster film, and has filled orders for Universal Studios in Florida.
Pedestal-mounted crane designs have been developed by National to serve the marine and other industries where there is a need for fixed, stationary lifting, loading and unloading. Typical installations are in factories, towers, yards and on docks. Pedestal-mounted telescoping cranes with marine conditioning and materials of construction are designed for shipboard, off-shore and other marine-related sites.
The reason that over 90 percent of National’s 30,000 cranes are still in service after decades of use can be found in the original blueprints and in the firm’s testing manual. Factory prototype cranes are subjected to the toughest testing requirements in the industry. Each undergoes stress coat and strain gauge testing, a procedure that measures metal deformation as small as one-millionth of an inch, to ensure structural integrity.
Original models undergo extensive life-cycle testing, receiving more punishment than most cranes encounter in a lifetime of on-the-job use. Every structural part of the crane is put through this rigorous procedure, with some components operated through 60,000 cycles at full-capacity load.Many crane orders include trucks, and current customer preferences are for rugged and powerful diesels including GMC, Sterling, Freightliner, Volvo, International/Navistar, Kenworth, Peterbilt and some Ford F-Series. Engines range from 190 to 410 horsepower and configurations range from single to three-axle with a definite trend toward adding a fourth axle in either a pusher or tag-axle position for increased payload capacity.
The reach and capacity of National’s new 1800 series truck-mounted telescoping cranes are among the industry’s largest. Model 18142 has a maximum capacity of 40 tons, made possible by a swinging counterweight design, and a 142-foot hydraulic boom with an optional 26-foot manual jib. The maximum vertical and hydraulic reaches are 175 feet and 149 feet respectively. Two cross-frame hydraulic outriggers, each spanning more than 24 feet, and a single front stabilizer provide firm support. The crane mounts on a standard tandem rear axle truck equipped with either a pusher or tag axle and can be furnished with a variety of accessories including personnel baskets for up to four people.
The new N- 160 truck-mounted articulating crane features a removable fly jib that is ideal for applications in which longer than normal hydraulic reach is required or where unusual conditions rule out standard articulating cranes. The N-160 has a maximum lifting capacity of nine tons, a vertical reach of over 65 feet, a reach below truck frame of almost 40 feet and a horizontal reach of 54 feet. National’s plans for the 21st century call for the continued upgrading of products and the creation of exciting new designs. Quality, versatility, rugged performance and strong after-sale support will continue to be National Crane’s hallmarks.