MRO Magazine

Within Reach: Crawling crane lends helping hand at Ontario waste-water treatment plant


March 26, 2012
By PEM Magazine

St. George, Ont.-based Gowing Contractors was tasked with rebuilding an existing waste-water digester system at the City of Cambridge, Ont.’s waste water treatment plant, which included the replacement of all of the mechanical components that were located around the perimeter of the inside of the digester.

However, the only way to get inside the digester was through a roof vent, located in the centre of the roof; once the vent was removed, there was a mere 97-inch opening, which provided a set of challenges in getting the right equipment in and out. They chose a mini-crawler crane provided by London, Ont.’s SpyderCrane Equipment Ltd., which was flexible and compact enough to access the area. The design of the digester floor also proposed additional challenges.

To prepare the site for the job, they removed the roof top vent from the center of the digester. Using a 30-ton boom truck, they hoisted timber crane mats down to create a level work surface.

Next, they prepared the SpyderCrane URW295 for hoisting into the digester from standard lifting eyes. This product fits through a standard doorframe, reducible to two feet wide, 4.45 feet high and 8.9 feet long. In order to allow necessary clearance for the crane to pass through the 97-inch opening, the boom was elevated to 45 degrees. It was then hoisted into the opening and down on to the crane mat. And finally, they hoisted the replacement tools, components and materials required to complete work into the digester.


They set up the SpyderCrane URW295 with the machine half on and half off the wooden mat; independent outrigger controls allow the mini crawler to be leveled on uneven surfaces, keeping the machine on the outside perimeter of the mats for maximum lifting performance. This was extremely useful when replacing components around the inside perimeter walls of the digester.

Its full-function radio remote control allowed the operator to stay in close proximity to the load placement location, for precise handling. The radio remote control system also increased safety on the job, by allowing the operators to position themselves in an optimal location. This allowed for superior control, while additionally keeping workers from being in harm’s way. (It also has automatic throttle activation, emergency shut down and a pressure sensitive trigger for speed control.)

When all was said and done, the SpyderCrane URW295 was used to install wall brackets, hang pipe, position valves, and install pumps and grates along with material baskets. It saved the project countless hours and, subsequently, countless dollars. The job was completed three weeks ahead of schedule to the delight of both the City of Cambridge and Gowing Contractors.

There are sometimes unique challenges in the lifting business, and SpyderCrane mini crawlers can meet a range of applications. Engineered and manufactured by Japanese industry crane leader Furukawa Unic Corp., it offers versatility, maneuverability and generous lifting capacities in a compact design. Like at the this waste-water treatment plant, this enables contractors and maintenance teams to quickly and safely meet most restricted or confined area lift requirements, and do so in a timely and cost effective manner.

The smallest member the product line — the URW295 — was used for the treatment plant. The URW376 and URW547 are both 52 inches wide, while the URW706 — the largest model — is 63 inches wide when in the stowed position. At their hearts are their independent outrigger controls, allowing them to be set up on uneven surfaces, close to a wall or around certain obstacles. Their compact design also minimizes dead-lift areas, allowing the machine to be set up closer to loads while still providing a full 360 degrees continuous rotation of the boom.

The company says its patented turn-over-protection system is “one of the most advanced safety features in the crane industry today.” It continually monitors ground-bearing pressure at each outrigger, regardless of outrigger configuration, and automatically sounds an alarm while restricting unsafe crane functions. There is also an on-board diagnostic system that continually monitors the crane’s operating status and provides complete service diagnostics.

Additionally, SpyderCrane crawlers are now available with battery power, making them ideal for the food and beverage industry and other facilities where noise or emissions are a factor. The electric-power package can also be purchased separately to allow new and existing customers to add this option as a separate power pack.

David Smith does sales and marketing at Spydercrane Equipment Ltd. in London, Ont. For more information, visit