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Acad Year(15/16) Tower Crane Design using Product Family Approach


Tower Crane Design using Product Family Approach

Kendrik Lim Yan Hong




Year (2015/2016)

Tower Crane Design using Product Family Approach

Tower Crane Design using Product Family Approach



Lim Yan Hong Kendrik



A final year project report

presented to

Nanyang Technological University

in partial fulfilment of the

requirements for the

Degree of Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)

Nanyang Technological University

Year (2015/2016)

Tower cranes are indispensible tools in large-scale construction projects due to their ability to
shift heavy loads in fixed vicinities. However, one of their key disadvantages is the utter lack
of mobility, which can only be solved via proper planning.

In a bid to develop a crane simulator programme to aid the planning operations, NTU has
embarked on a system development for many months and it has proved successful in the
mobile crane section. One of the key obstacles the author had to overcome is the lengthy
design phase whereby realistic and accurate crane models are to be produced for simulation

This report presents the steps taken by the author to develop a new concept model that is
aimed at solving the lengthy process via a 3-stage methodology that includes the
understanding the traditional modelling methods as well as the utilization of a product family
modular-based design and limited production. The results indicate a vast reduction in
development time and the concept is considered to be a success. As the new concept does
possess some forms of limitation, it opens the path for future studies and the details are
recorded in the report.

Content page
Abstract 2
Acknowledgement 5

1. Introduction -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------9
1.1 NTU Final Year Project 9
1.2 Background 9
1.3 Objective 10
1.4 Scope of Research 10
1.5 Project Process 11

2. Literature Review -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2.1 Liebherr Tower Cranes 13
2.2 Patents 14
2.3 Major Breakthroughs 15

3. Fundamentals of Tower Crane ---------------------------------------------------------------------

3.1 Fixed Tower Cranes 17
3.2 Crane Operations 18
3.2.1 Distribution of Forces 19
3.2.2 Working Radius 20
3.3 Existing Safety Warning Systems 22

4. Design and Familiarization -------------------------------------------------------------------------23

4.1 Computer Aided Design Software Format 23
4.2 First 4 Tower Crane Models 24
4.3 The 1 Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC 24
4.3.1 Background 25
4.3.2 Objectives 25
4.3.3 Methodology 26
4.3.4 Result 32
4.3.5 Feedback 33
4.4 The 2nd Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC 34
4.3.1 Background 34
4.3.2 Objectives 35
4.3.3 Methodology 35
4.3.4 Result 38
4.3.5 Feedback 38
4.5 The 3rd & 4th Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) & 256HC (6m) 39
4.3.1 Background 39
4.3.2 Objectives 39
4.3.3 Methodology (Modelling Aspect) 40
4.3.4 Methodology (Aesthetic Aspect) 41
4.3.5 Result 43
4.6 Conclusion for Stage 1 44
4.7 Additional High-Top EC-H Family Models 45
4.7.1 The 5 Model: 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 45
4.7.2 The 6th Model: 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 46
4.7.3 The 7th Model: 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 47

5. Design Validation -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------48
5.1 Dimension Validation (Blueprints) 48
5.1.1 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC Manufacturers Drawings 49
5.1.2 Produced 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC Blueprints 51
5.1.3 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC Manufacturers Drawings 53
5.1.4 Produced 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC Blueprints 54
5.1.5 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC Manufacturers Drawings 55
5.1.6 Produced 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC Blueprints 56
5.1.7 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC Manufacturers Drawings 57
5.1.8 Produced 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC Blueprints 58
5.1.9 Conclusion for Dimension Validation 59
5.2 Corrective Actions Required for Simulator Compatibility 60
5.2.1 Performing X-Form on all Components [Compulsory] 60
5.2.2 Positioning of Parts [Compulsory] 61
5.2.3 Attaching of Components in a Part [Compulsory] 62
5.3 Simulation Integration Validation 63
5.3.1 Conclusion for Simulation Integration Validation 66

6. Product Family Modular-Based Crane Design ------------------------------------------------67

6.1 Definition 67
6.2 Concept 68
6.3 Classification of Liebherr Tower Crane Models 69
6.3.1 Limitations 70
6.4 Model Characteristics 70
6.5 Objectives for Template Design 70
6.6 Methodology 71
6.6.1 Template Subassembly Modelling 71
6.6.2 Standard Operating Procedure of End Users 72
6.7 Results 74
6.8 Applications 74

7. Conclusion and Recommendations for Future Studies ---------------------------------------75

7.1 Contributions 75
7.2 Recommendations for Future Studies 76
7.3 Personal Reflection 77

8. References ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------78

Appendix 79


I would like to express my profound gratitude to the following people who assisted me for the
duration of the Final Year Project. It was an enlightening and enriching process where I
gained many amazing learning opportunities:

Associate Professor, Dr Cai Yiyu (FYP Supervisor) for providing many learning points
throughout the project duration, furnishing me with feedback and granting me the opportunity to
assist him in the Masters in Engineering course (M6226).

Dr Chandrasekaran Indhumathi for recommendations on improvement aspects as well as

supporting me in the crane simulation programme.

Mr Huang Li Hui and Ms Cai Pan Pan for assistance regarding the 3DsMax troubleshooting and
simulator support.

Any other persons who provided guidance and advice towards the Final Year Project.

List of Figures

Figure 1.1: An Example of Tower Crane Simulation ----------------------------------------------- 10

Figure 1.2: Project Flow Process -----------------------------------------------------------------------11
Figure 2.1: ICM20 Ranking of Cranes Sales in 2008 -----------------------------------------------12
Figure 2.2: Comparison of the size of construction equipment market ---------------------------12
Figure 2.3: Liebherr Tower Crane ----------------------------------------------------------------------13
Figure 2.4: Type HC-L Fly Jib Cranes ----------------------------------------------------------------13
Figure 2.5: Single Double Action Hydraulic Jack Patent --------------------------------------------14
Figure 2.6: Mounting of Masthead Patent ----------------------------------------------------------- 14
Figure 2.7: High-Strength Fibre Rope -----------------------------------------------------------------15
Figure 2.8: Future Tower Crane Concept -------------------------------------------------------------15
Figure 3.1: Liebherr Flat-Top Tower Crane ----------------------------------------------------------16
Figure 3.2: Liebherr Top-Slewing Tower Cranes ----------------------------------------------------16
Figure 3.3: Main Components of a Tower Crane ----------------------------------------------------17
Figure 3.4: Crane to Lever Mapping -------------------------------------------------------------------- 19
Figure 3.5: Simplified Free Body Diagram -----------------------------------------------------------19
Figure 3.6: Crane Simulator highlighting the working radius of a Tower Crane Model --------20
Figure 3.7: Supporting Static Tower Crane -----------------------------------------------------------22
Figure 3.8: TAC-3000 Anti-Collision LCD Display -------------------------------------------------- 22
Figure 4.1: Realistic Render of Architectural Objectives using 3Ds Max ------------------------23
Figure 4.2: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC ------------------------------------------------------------24
Figure 4.3: Mesh-Approximated Dimensions of a Tower Mast ------------------------------------26
Figure 4.4: Subassembly Models before Assembly ------------------------------------------------- 27
Figure 4.5: Tower Mast of the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500 Model ---------------------------------28
Figure 4.6: Top-Down Approach Modelling ----------------------------------------------------------28
Figure 4.7: Counter-Weight Module -------------------------------------------------------------------- 29
Figure 4.8: Bottom-Up Approach Modelling ---------------------------------------------------------30
Figure 4.9: First Completed Tower Crane Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC ---------------- 32
Figure 4.10: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC ------------------------------------------------------------34
Figure 4.11: Manufacturers Drawings for the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic Tower Cranes -----------35
Figure 4.12: Blind Dimensioning Method -----------------------------------------------------------36
Figure 4.13: Dimensional and Relational Approaches ----------------------------------------------37
Figure 4.14: Simplification of a Base Stand ----------------------------------------------------------37
Figure 4.15: Second Completed Tower Crane Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC ---------38
Figure 4.16: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) & 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m) ------39
Figure 4.17: Angled Aerial View -----------------------------------------------------------------------40
Figure 4.18: Angled Bottom-up View -----------------------------------------------------------------40
Figure 4.19: Realistic rendering of structures by Micha Koren using 3DsMax ------------------41
Figure 4.20: Selection of Mental Ray Renderer ------------------------------------------------------41
Figure 4.21: Selection of Materials ---------------------------------------------------------------------42
Figure 4.22: Lighting Conditions and Background ---------------------------------------------------42
Figure 4.23: Third Completed Tower Crane Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) -----43
Figure 4.24: Fourth Completed Tower Crane Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m) ----43
Figure 4.25: 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC -----------------------------------------------------------45
Figure 4.26: 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC ------------------------------------------------------------46
Figure 4.27: 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC -----------------------------------------------------------47
Figure 5.1: Identical X:0 Y:0 Z:0 Coordinate Issue --------------------------------------------------- 60
Figure 5.2: Re-setting the Pivot point -----------------------------------------------------------------60
Figure 5.3: Re-setting the X-Form ----------------------------------------------------------------------61

Figure 5.4: Ensuring the Component is X-Formed ---------------------------------------------------61
Figure 5.5: Misaligned Model ---------------------------------------------------------------------------62
Figure 5.6: Position and Rotation Transformation option -------------------------------------------62
Figure 5.7: Steps to Attach the Different Subassemblies --------------------------------------------- 62
Figure 5.8: Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC --------------------------------------63
Figure 5.9: Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC ---------------------------------------63
Figure 5.10: Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) ------------------------------64
Figure 5.11: Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC (6m) ----------------------------- 64
Figure 5.12: Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC -------------------------------------65
Figure 5.13: Simulated Model: 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC -------------------------------------65
Figure 5.14: Simulated Model: 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC -------------------------------------- 66
Figure 6.1: Similar Functionalities but Different Specifications ------------------------------------ 67
Figure 6.2: Plug-and-play Concept ---------------------------------------------------------------------67
Figure 6.3: Tree Diagram for Product Family Modular-Based Concept --------------------------68
Figure 6.4: Trade-off between Template model and Actual model --------------------------------- 70
Figure 6.5: Before Modification ------------------------------------------------------------------------71
Figure 6.6: After Modification --------------------------------------------------------------------------72
Figure 6.7: Secondary Dimensioning used on a Template Model ----------------------------------72

List of Tables

Table 3.1: Features of a Top-Slewing Tower Crane -------------------------------------------------- 17

Table 3.2: Graph of Load Capacity against Radius --------------------------------------------------21
Table 4.1: Naming Convention for all Tower Crane Models ---------------------------------------31
Table 6.1: Top-Slewing Crane Families ----------------------------------------------------------------
Table 6.2: Steps to Create Models Based on Product Family Approach --------------------------72
Table 6.3: Time Taken to Complete the Various Models -------------------------------------------74
Table 7.1: Comparison of the Different Design Software -------------------------------------------75

1. Introduction
1.1 NTU Final Year Project

All final year engineering students in Nanyang Technological University are required to
complete the NTU Final Year Project. A graded coursework for the duration of two
semesters, it is usually the final stepping stone out of university into the working society. The
purpose of the Final Year Project is to simulate the student to face a realistic issue, project or
situation where he/she would learn to be professional and utilize his full capabilities and
knowledge gathered over the years.

My Final Year Project would stretch over the 1st and 2nd academic semesters in 2015/2016
with Professor Cai Yiyu as my supervisor.

1.2 Background

The global construction industry is projected to grow over the next decade especially in the
rapidly emerging economies of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Eastern
Europe. Fuelled by urbanization, globalization, infrastructure renewal and the burgeoning
needs of developing megacities, construction in emerging markets is expected to double
within a decade and will become a $6.7 trillion business by 2020, accounting for some 55%
of global construction output, according to the Global Construction 2020 report published
by Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics.

In Brazil, for example, population growth is spurring large government investment in housing
and energy. Similarly, Indias on-going program of urban renewal, energy and transport
development will help make the country the worlds third-largest construction market by
2018, just behind the United States (second) and China (first).

To benefit from trends in the construction industry, companies should look at adopting new
construction industry strategies and technology to better position them to manage the supply
side and capture the increased demand.

One of the key technologies is the crane simulator programme. Designed for the crane and
construction industry, it aims to reduce construction periods with automated planning and
synchronization. By simulating the entire flow of the building project and even having
equipment such as tower cranes automated, it allows a real-time update on manpower,
material and cost.

This project will focus on the tower crane segment and the creation of a family of tower
cranes intended for the simulator to project in the programme. This will allow developers of
the simulating programme to test the system thoroughly with features such as anti-collision
and route planning. The author believes that many corporations in the related industries have
begun development on similar projects and these will definitely revolutionize the entire
industry, bringing it into a new era of automation and virtual reality augmentation.

1.3 Objective

This project aims to design a family of tower cranes for hoisting applications in construction,
which will be used in a crane simulator programme. Based on modifications of existing
Liebherr cranes, an investigation will be held to understand its products as well as on
parametric and variational technology, which will be applied on the crane family design.

The sub-objectives includes:

Ensuring the dimensional accuracy of the tower crane models.

Modifying all tower crane models to be simulator compatible.
Creating realistic renderings on the tower crane models.

1.4 Scope of research

This project aims to achieve cost and time reduction during infrastructure construction via
tower cranes. As such, the author is required to work closely with the design team to
understand the work done and to design the crane models to will cater to the projects needs.

The simulator programme is also able to utilize the concept of virtual reality to provide a
user-friendly experience, which is easy to comprehend and operate. The simulator design
team has been working on the programme before the authors involvement and has developed
a functioning code for simulating prototype models. Fig 1.1 shows an example of the
simulator in action.

Fig 1.1
An Example of Tower Crane Simulation
1.5 Project Process

This research paper documents the entire final year project into three major segments. The
systematic flow of the investigation will provide a comprehensive explanation as to what the
author has done to complete the project.

Fig 1.2
Project Flow Process

Stage 1 shows the progress made during the opening months of the project, which is includes
understanding how tower cranes function till knowing how the simulator programme runs.
The author learnt new software (eg. 3DsMax) from scratch and had to spend a few months
familiarizing with the tools by designing 4 variations of tower crane models.

Stage 2 involves constant rectifying of the tower crane models to enable them to be simulator

Stage 3 allows the author to combine the skills and methodologies used and proceed by
conceptualizing a product family approach to enable future researchers to capitalize on the concept for
quicker tower crane development time.

2. Literature Review
This section aims to provide a glance into the tower crane industry and its key players, the
patents and technologies used for the manufacturing of modern top-slewing cranes and lastly
the most recent breakthroughs for both automation and lifting approach in the crane market.

Statistics collated in 2008 showed that

Liebherr was a global leader in terms of
crane sales as shown in Fig2.1 It had a 16%
increase in lifting sales from the previous
year of 2007, totalling to a 4,194million USD
in sales. Due to its popularity, the author
decided to explore more about the German-
registered company and its products,
analysing its merchandize and popularity.

In todays globalized stage, one of the ways

companies are growing is by reaching into
new markets as competitors already possess a
firm hold in matured markets. The huge
Chinese market would an indisputable choice
for expansion in the 21st century with
growing real estate and infrastructure
investment as compared to the rest of the
world. Fig shows the size of Chinas
engineering and construction equipment
Fig 2.1
market size for the year of 2013.
ICM20 Ranking of Crane Sales in 2008

Fig 2.2
Comparison of the size of construction equipment market

2.1 Liebherr Tower Cranes

Liebherr is not only among the worlds largest manufacturers

of construction machinery, but is an acknowledged supplier of
technically advanced, user-oriented products and services in
many other fields of activity as well. The family owned
conglomerate has demonstrated stability and trustworthiness
for over 60 years. During the year 2014, Liebherr tower cranes
were used on construction of what is to be the worlds tallest
building, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Liebherrs Tower Cranes are classified into two categories: the Fig 2.3
Top slewing Cranes and the Fast Erecting Cranes. The scope of Liebherr Tower Crane
the authors Final Year Project focuses on investigating the
former category due to its design as a modular system which is
essential to the product family approach in developing other relavant models. Top slewing
cranes require a longer duration to erect and dismantle, but they can be erected virtually up to
any height. These cranes are suitable for medium-to high-rise construction projects where
they are needed for longer durations.

After analysing Liebherrs annual report of 2014, in relation to the five largest European
competitors, Liebherr secured a 20% share of the market for top-slewing cranes. In addition,
the firm received an especially large number of orders for its Type 542 HC-L, 81K and 280
EC-H models. These popular models would serve as a basis for the authors reference in
understanding the market preference features and designs, which could then be included in
future model designs.

The Type HC-L fly jib cranes like the one shown in Fig 2.4
are designed to work on extremely high buildings or where
space is very limited.

Liebherrs EC-H cranes are cost-effective in terms of

transport, quick and easy to erect and equipped with
innovative drivelines. The power category they occupy
makes them suitable for construction tasks of moderate size
or larger.

Based on the EC-H popularity, the author has decided to

focus on the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic family while at the same
time investigate into the other models included in the EC-H
family, for example the 550 EC-H 20 Litronic to understand
Fig 2.4
Type HC-L Fly Jib Cranes better the different specifications involved and features

2.2 Patents

This section features some of the prominent patents used in modern tower cranes. These
patents either improve existing designs or add new features to current models. The main
concept behind tower crane designing has remained consistent over the last 5 decades.

Methods for erecting tower cranes

Inventor: Durand Pierre

Publication No.: US3466723A
Publication Date: 16 Sep 1969

In the past, tower cranes were erected via

the means of cables and pulleys and in the
recent past, by a screw jack followed by use
of a hydraulic jack. While these hydraulic
jacks were safer, more powerful and took
up lesser space, it was costly and that
prompted a further investigation that
resulted in the use of a single double action Fig 2.5
hydraulic jack. Fig 2.5 shows the blueprints Single Double Action Hydraulic Jack Patent
of the modern hydraulic jack used by
todays crane industry.

Method and device for mounting the masthead of tower cranes

Inventors: Michel Lissandre, Yves Millet

Publication No.: US6422408B1
Publication Date: 23 Jul 2002

This patent presents both a device and method to mount the

masthead onto tower cranes. As these cranes are usually
top turning, which means they have a stationary mast,
whereby the height is adjustable and the revolving top part
consists of the delivery jib and a counter jib, a method has
been devised to enable shorter erection time.

This method requires all jib elements to be aligned and

assembled on the ground, fixed and secured with tie rods.
This assembly is then raised by auxiliary lifting equipment
such as a mobile crane, allowing the construction of the
apex, counter jib and delivery jib onto the mast. Fig 2.6
Fig 2.6
shows the sections included in the method.
Mounting of Masthead patent

2.3 Major Breakthroughs

High-strength fibre rope

Reduced weight of rope increases load capacities of cranes

The introduction of a new type of high-strength fibre rope

designed for hoisting operations in 19th January 2016 met the
practical requirements of cranes by enabling them with
higher hoisting heights and heavier load capacities.

Ligher than the traditional steel ropes by 80%, the fibre rope
is more durable as well, allowing increased load capacities
due to the reduced weight of the rope, resulting in a
significantly reduced mass of the hook block. Also, no
lubrication is needed for the ropes.
Fig 2.7
The fibre ropes can be mounted on the crane by hand High-Strength Fibre Rope
without additional equipment, hence reducing the set-up
time with simplified instructions.

Long service life improves crane availability

By being highly wear-resistant, the fibre rope has a high count of bending cycles as compared
to using steel ropes, lowering the number of rope changes. By adopting a redundancy
strategy, it would be easier to safely determine if the worn-out state of the rope required
changing by looking at the coat of the rope.

The new fibre rope features a winding pattern similar to the winding of the steel rope,
enabling it to be cut in the lower layers repeatedly without damage. More tolerant than the
steel rope, it doesnt interlock when cut and the winding pattern serves to reduce wear and
lengthen service life.

Tower concept from Liebherr

In the upcoming Bauma exhibition, (the largest construction

equipment exhibition in the world), Liebherr is showcasing
its vision for a future crane which combines both hardware
and software, integrating the systems of building information Fig 2.8
modelling together with a new futuristic design. Future Tower Crane Concept

With the competition moving towards providing a more comprehensive service, it is believed
that Liebherr intends to overtake them by providing consumers with a 3D interactive system
to lower manpower and improve efficiency as well. Coinciding with the aims of the crane
simulating programme, it is clear that automation is the intended future for construction.

3. Fundamentals of Tower Crane
3.1 Fixed Tower Cranes

Tower cranes are a common sight in construction projects. Consisting

of a few simple components, it is usually grounded by concrete slabs
and these machines are capable of heavy-duty lifting. Coupled with a
lengthy jib length, the delivery jib allows safe and efficient delivery to
any location within its maximum radius as it is balanced by counter-

Tower cranes generally comprises of the mast, which gives the crane
its height. Attached to the mast is the slewing unit, which is driven by
the rotating motor. It allows the crane to horizontally rotate and on
fixed on the slewing unit would be the delivery jib, the counter jib and
the cockpit.
Fig 3.1
Crane handlers usually communicate via radio and hand signals and Liebherr Flat-Top Tower Crane
these are important roles to ensure safety during rigging and
transporting of the loads. The sections below further illustrate the
functions of a typical Top-Slewing tower crane.

Fig 3.2
Liebherr Top-Slewing Tower Cranes

A tower crane consists of several key components, namely the mast, slewing unit, operating
cabin, jib, counter weights and hook. Every section serves a specific functional role which
forms the total capacity and capability of the tower crane design when combined. Fig 3.3
illustrates the main components of a Top-Slewing crane while Table 3.1 describes their
purpose and functions.


Weights Slewing

cabin Mast

Fig 3.3
Main Components of a Tower Crane

Feature Purpose
Mast Main supporting tower (Made of connected steel trussed sections)
Slewing Unit Engine that enables the crane to rotate
Operating Cabin Location of operating controls and operator
Jib Horizontal operating arm with a horizontal rolling trolley
Weights Counterweights designed to compensate for the weight lifted
Hook Connect the material to the crane
Table 3.1
Features of a Top-Slewing Tower Crane 17
3.2 Crane Operation

Proper training and meticulous planning by both operators and supervisors are essential
before using the tower crane to ensure smooth operations and safety.

It is crucial that the crane works within its stipulated limits and capabilities by taking special
attention to factors such as:

Weight of permissible load

Maximum radius length
Stability of structure

From basic physics principles, eg. The principle of moments, it is easy to comprehend the
importance of the factors mentioned above and how to prevent them. Even though the details
in this section are not directly related to the project, it is still important to know the
mechanics and fundamentals behind tower cranes.

3.2.1 Distribution of Forces

For better understanding, a tower

crane can be simplified into a
horizontal-equivalent free body
diagram as depicted in Fig 3.4.
The Fulcrum takes the place of
the mast while the
counterweights act as the effort
and the load indicates the lifted

For the design to remain in

equilibrium, the following
requirements must be fulfilled:

Distance between the effort and

fulcrum = D1
Fig 3.4 Distance between the fulcrum
Crane to Lever Mapping
and load = D2
Effort = F1
Load = F2

Conservation of momentum:

D1 x F1 = D2 x F2

Fig 3.5
Simplified Free Body Diagram

As the load capacity increases, more effort is needed to maintain the equilibrium state. Due to
the distance-to-fulcrum disadvantage, an increase in effort is needed.

However, due to material limitations, there is a specific load capacity for the crane before
failure occurs.

3.2.2 Working Radius

The working radius of the tower crane informs about the circumferential-parameter that
signifies the effective 360 jib range at a given trolley position as shown in Fig 3.6. It also
serves as the D2 term as shown in Fig 3.5.

This crucial information informs operators if the crane is capable to shift a weight from
different locations. Also, it notifies the operators if the weight is within the load capacity at
which the crane can handle as the maximum load capacity decreases as the D2 increases.

The working radius of the tower crane can be adjusted only via the movement of the trolley.

Fig 3.6
Crane Simulator highlighting the working radius of a Tower Crane Model

Table 3.2
Graph of Load Capacity against Radius

A crane operator has to judge both the radius distance and the weight of the load to ensure
that it does not exceed the load capacity for safety reasons. Table 3.2 shows the load capacity
having an inverse proportion relationship to the jib length.

Hence, it is essential that location of the tower crane set up is appropriate depending on the
weights of the load lifted, the space constraints and distance of load travelled to avoid
unnecessary collisions and obstructions.

3.2.3 Stability

Even though the tower cranes can reach up to heights of 80m, the stability of the crane is still
an issue as the centre of gravity would be higher. Although this issue does not present itself
as an immediate or urgent risk, awareness of load shapes and size limitations has to heighten
as working height increases.

Stability becomes a pressing issue when a tower crane is

working near maximum height and radius due to the rise in
C.G level.

One way to mitigate the risk of toppling would be to set up

a self-supporting static tower crane, where the tower is
anchored at ground level using reinforced concrete bases.

Another common method would be to set up a supporting

static tower crane, where by the tower is tied at appropriate
intervals to the surface of an existing structure to gain
increased stability. However, this will increase the cost as Fig 3.7
additional stresses to the structure must be contained. Supporting Static Tower Crane

3.3 Existing Safety Warning Systems

Most exiting tower cranes make use of safety warning systems such as the TAC-3000 anti-
collision devices which features such as anti-collision path protection, zone protection and
boundary protection. The system operates in a wireless network and displays information
on a LCD display. By monitoring the tower crane movement, it helps to prevent catastrophic
accidents caused by human error and thus create a safer environment.

Even though such systems are essential for safety purposes, it should be relied on and
accidents should be avoided by proper procedures. This would increase efficiency and
productivity as time will not be wasted to undo steps and spent trying to improvise solutions.

This increases the need to look into a simulation system to aid the construction industry in
planning crane operations and ensure that the proposal is feasible before carrying out the

Fig 3.8
TAC-3000 Anti-Collision LCD Display

4. Design and Familiarization [Stage 1]
4.1 Computer Aided Design Software Format

Prior to the authors involvement with the project team, the simulator program and CAD
software had already been defaulted to base on the Autodesk 3Ds Max platform, which is a
popular 3D computer graphics program.

3Ds Max is similar to other 3D software tools in a sense that it has all the important tools for
modelling, texturing rigging, animation, rendering and dynamics. In addition to these
features, 3ds Max has a lot of small tools that make the job done faster. The key reason for
choosing 3Ds Max would be it being well optimized for architectural visualization whereas
other 3D software tools, eg Maya, are better with tasks that involve character rigging and
animation superimposing.

Coupled with strong rendering capabilities, improved interoperability with industry-standard

products as well as additional time-saving animation and mapping workflow tools, it is a
powerful tool and a popular choice amongst design engineers.

Fig 4.1
Realistic Render of Architectural Objects using 3Ds Max

Comparing the advantages and disadvantages of both the 3Ds Max and mainstream
engineering soft-wares, the author decided on using 3Ds Max given the fact that the objective
of this project is related to designing of a family of tower cranes which is considered as
architectural rather than anatomical.

4.2 First 4 Crane Models

To learn the key aspects of the different models in the Liebherr tower crane family as well as
to explore improved designing methods, the author has produced 4 modified models from
scratch. They are from the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic product family, comprising of the 500HC,
355HC, 256HC (8M) and 256HC (6M).

4.3 The 1st Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC

Fig 4.2
280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC

Summary of Activity/ Assignment

Crane Model 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC
Time Taken to Complete 5 weeks
Completed Crane Number 1

4.3.1 Background

The Liebherr 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC has a 13-section mast that can reach to a height
of 86.8m with a maximum lifting capacity of up to 12,000kg. It is capable of carrying loads
of up to 2,800kg when extended to its maximum radius.

4.3.2 Objectives

Due to the authors lack of experience in modelling a tower crane, the 1st sub-objective was
to come out with the different parts of the tower crane design after learning the 3DsMax
drawing methods. The completion of the model indicates that every detail of the crane model
must be inspected thoroughly to ensure no design flaws in the form of dimensions.

Based on a completed 3DsMax Terex model, the author could accelerate his learning curve
by understanding and making reference to it whenever difficulties were encountered.

The 2nd sub-objective was to determine key features to include in the model and modify parts
to improve the prototype design. Due to a limited understanding of tower cranes at that point
of time, the first model was made to be very specific with minimal assumptions and
omissions as the author could not determine the non-crucial details.

The 3rd sub-objective was to be accustomed to the compatibility requirements of the Crane
simulator after coming out with the design on 3DsMax. The simulator requires specific
naming of parts, X-forms and many essential adjustments in order for the 3DsMax model to
be replicated in the simulator. Any negligence would result in the simulated crane either not
appearing or not being able to function as expected.

4.3.3 Methodology


Using the reference model, the author was able to explore and derive methods to shape out
the various parts of the tower crane. Even though it would be easier to just do a replication,
which would save much time in the design process, the author felt that some design changes
were necessary to improve the existing reference model and to focus on the dimensions of the
new model as dictated by the manufacturers data sheet.

It was a tough and tedious process to learn both the modelling process and to figure out the
complex dimensioning at this stage and a lot of time was spent correcting dimensional details
due to 3DsMaxs inability to do precise measurement adjustments. This meant that the
measurements were hardly in exact figures but rather, in mesh-approximated decimals of
millimetres due to the models being meshed as finite elements.

Fig 4.3
Mesh-Approximated Dimensions of a Tower Mast

Subassembly Modelling Approach

Most crane assemblies are made up of multiple small parts and it would not be effective to
model those parts individually due to time constraints. Rather, it is the norm to model at a
subassembly level before piecing the parts together to form the complete model.

This subassembly modelling approach has been adopted by the design team and it is the
approach to which the author creates his design models. Fig 4.4 depicts the assembling of the
different parts to form the finished model.

Fig 4.4
Subassembly models before Assembly

For the tower mast section shown in Fig 4.5, the author has utilized the top down approach,
which can be summarized as carving a solid block to expose its features (reducing volume).
This procedure is suitable for block-like parts due to the ease of trimming the parts rather
than extruding them, hence shaving much time off to complete the part.

Fig 4.5
Tower Mast of the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC Model

Figure 4.6 shows the systematic transformation of the tower mast from the beginning (block)
to the end (mast) to illustrate the development/modelling process.

1 2 3 4

5 6 7

Fig 4.6
Top-Down Approach Modelling

The bottom up approach was used for the other sections of the tower crane due to their
complexity. Also referred to as the building-up method, the methodology is described as
sketching (2D) and then extruding to form 3D models (creating volume).

A good example would be the counter-weight module as depicted in Fig 4.7, which unlike the
tower mast, is more suitable for the bottom-up approach, as it does not possess a block shape
like the mast section. Fig 4.8, illustrates a progressive transformation of the creation of the
counter-weight module.

Fig 4.7
Counter-Weight Module

1 2

3 4

5 6

Fig 4.8
Bottom-Up Approach Modelling

Naming Convention

The author had to pay strict attention to naming convention of the tower crane components
due to simulator compatibility issues. The simulator programme recognizes crane
components according to their assigned names, and then links the subassemblies to their
intended functions. Table shows the naming convention used for all tower crane models.

Part Name Convention

Base OT
Tower Mast Tower01, Tower02
Jacking Rig Platform
Slewing Unit CRP
Jib Jib01, Jib02
Operating Cabin Cockpit
Rope Support Tower Apex
Counter Weight Structure Jib_C
Counter Weight CW01, CW02
Hook Hook
Structure Cables PendantF, PendantR
Pulling Rope Trpl_FF_1, Trpl_RR_1
Table 4.1
Naming Convention for all Tower Crane Models

It is vital to ensure that the naming is assigned correctly as any lapse would result in the
simulator programme malfunctioning or the simulated model being inaccurate.

3.3.4 Result

Fig 4.9
First Completed Tower Crane Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC

By modelling out the various tower crane components and assembling the parts together, the
completed tower crane product as shown in Fig 4.9 is able to function in the simulator
programme. The completed model was passed on to the simulation team to ensure that the
model is functional and adjustments to be made if necessary. Fig 4.9 was taken from the
simulator programme featuring the model carrying a load while rotated horizontally at an

The entire process took approximately 5 weeks considering that it is the authors first attempt
dealing with a complex structure and there were multiple corrections that had to be done.
More on the validations and corrections will be highlighted in Stage 2 of the project.

Designing the first crane model allowed the author to learn a lot about the different
components and the various approaches used to produce the subassemblies.

3.3.5 Feedback

Even though comments on the various designs were very positive, given that it was the
authors virgin attempt at using 3DsMax, there were some constructive inputs given to be
observed for the future design models.

As the models are made up of meshes, complicated designs and detailed forms will resulted
in a higher mesh count. Thus, the first feedback given was to simplify the models in order to
lower the meshes mainly to reduce the burden on the computing RAM while simulating the
model crane. Cranes with high amount of meshes can result in the programme functioning
slowly and even crashing at times.

The second feedback received was regarding the accuracy of dimensions. The dimensions of
the components should be in whole numbers rather than decimals for ease of manipulation
and calculation. Due to the precision of the 3Ds Max software to be up to 0.001, this would
pose as a minor irritancy to have exact values even though it will not affect the accuracy of
the tower crane much.

3.4 The 2nd Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC

Fig 4.10
280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC

Summary of Activity/ Assignment

Crane Model 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC
Time Taken to Complete 4 Weeks
Completed Crane Number 2

3.4.1 Background

Residing in the same 280 EC-H 12 Litronic family, the second completed tower crane model,
355HC is the smaller version of its 500HC counterpart. Reaching a mast height of 63.8m as
compared to the 500HCs 75.4m, its smaller size allows it to work better in restricted
construction spaces and used for smaller scale projects.

3.4.2 Objective

Completion of the 1st model, 500HC, let the author to explore methods of reducing the
development time for the 2nd model, 355HC based on the feedback obtained.

Another improvement to explore would be to have a higher degree of dimensional accuracy

than the 500HC model.

3.4.3 Methodology


Blind dimensioning or Scaling is considered to be one of the more challenging obstacles

present in the project. Due to many details omitted in the manufacturers drawings, the author
has to assume unknown dimensions based on proportion and calibration. An example of the
manufacturers drawings can be found in Fig 4.11.

Fig 4.11
Manufacturers Drawings for the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic Tower Cranes

To use the blind dimensioning concept while designing the 2nd model, the author used a
variety of methods to obtain the unknown dimensions in order to complete the crane design.
One estimation methodology would be using a ruler with the manufacturers drawing. A
simplified blind dimensioning method would be depicted in Fig 4.12, where by using
simple scaling, the author would be able to find the length of both a and b.

Fig 4.12
Blind Dimensioning Method

Subassembly Modelling Approach

Both the 1st and 2nd tower crane models have been subjected to the subassembly modelling
approach whereby all components were pre-made before assembling them into a single
model. The modelling approaches differ for two categories of the tower crane:

Mast, Delivery jib

o Top-Down Approach

Non-repetitive components
o Bottom-Up Approach

Also, the author had to use different types of constraint-based methods to design the
components in addition to using the top-down or bottom-up approaches. To simplify matters,
the methods were classified into dimensional and relational approaches.

o The distance from an object is measured from a specific point.

o The distance from an object is measured with a previous relation.

Fig 4.13
Dimensional and Relational Approaches

The author used the dimensional approach for the 1st tower crane model to preserve its
dimensional accuracy. This approach was lengthy even though no further modifications are
required once done.

As for the 2nd tower crane model, using relational constrains would enable an ease of
modification to the components since the dimensions requires frequent modifications. This
methodology was useful when the author was coming out with the product family modular-
based concept in Stage 3 of the project.

Simplification of shapes

According to feedback received, complex designs in this case are not an advantage. Initially,
the author produced highly complex models in hope of them being specific and realistic.
However, this lengthened development time and with more complex faces, the document file
would take up a lot of memory space and the simulator would have trouble reading so many
faces and simulating them. Hence, the author simplified the various components, which
would achieve a shorter development time and allow easy modification. Fig 4.14 shows a
Base-stand conversion from complex to primitive.

Fig 4.14
Simplification of a Base Stand 37
3.4.4 Result

Fig 4.15
Second completed tower crane model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC

By using simpler shapes, the development time of model no. 2 was shortened by a significant
amount. Due to careful modification, the realistic appeal of the model was preserved rather
than overly simplified. The utilization of the modelling methodologies as well as relational
constraining approaches reduced the amount of calculations to be done and increased the
overall ease of modification.

3.4.5 Feedback

Although the simplification process did trim the general complexity of the tower crane
model, some components still possess a higher mesh count due to its circular contours.
However, it is not a major issue as the simulator programme could still process the model
with ease.

A suggestion received mentioned about the possibility of having a primitive design for all
components while formulating the product family-modular based concept featured in Stage 3.
These components could then be easily converted to detailed models with realistic aesthetics.

The author received commends on the realistic appearance of the crane models presented due
to the effective utilization of the 3Ds Max software.

3.5 The 3rd & 4th Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) & 256HC (6m)

Fig 4.16
280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) & 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m)

Summary of Activity/ Assignment

Crane Model 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC
(8m) (6m)
Time Taken to Complete 3 weeks 2 weeks
Completed Crane Number 3 4

4.5.1 Background

Both the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) and 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m) are
significantly smaller designs as compared to the first 2 completed models with a higher load
carrying capacity of 5600kg at a radius of 50m and 6500kg at a radius of 45m respectively.
Also, both models have a reduced base size of 8m and 6m subsequently.

4.5.2 Objective

The objectives include applying what the author mastered on the various modelling
methodologies, scaling techniques as well as using relational constraints to finish the 280 EC-
H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) and 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m) models. The author was
able to produce the models with a smoother work flow as most of the issues faced were
solved with the modelling of crane number 1 & 2. Also, bids were made to enhance the
artistic presentation of the designs (realistic rendering) as highlighted during past feedback.

4.5.3 Methodology (Modelling Aspect)

280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m)

Despite being significantly smaller than the previous 2 crane models, both the 256HC models
follow the same component assembly and layout. With the model development length
shortened with the help of the various constraining methods, the author could focus on
making the models realistic by focusing on details, textures and appearances.

Fig 4.17
Angled Aerial View

280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m)

With both 256HC models being similar except for a few dimensional differences, the author
could experiment with different textures for both tower crane designs.

Fig 4.18
Angled Bottom-Up View
4.5.4 Methodology (Aesthetics Aspect)

One of the major advantages of the 3DsMax software is the well optimised rendering
capabilities for architectural visualisations, which allows designers to model realistic images
of the design. As 3DsMaxs dedicated visualization software could do realistic renderings
such as the model shown in Fig 4.19, the author decided to continue using the same software
for the tower cranes aesthetic aspect.

Fig 4.19
Realistic rendering of structures by Micha Koren using 3DsMax

The first step to provide rendering to the model would be to assign materials to the various
surfaces of the tower crane from a large catalogue of mental ray materials as shown in Fig
4.20. In order to attain the most realistic appearance possible, it is recommended that the
appropriate materials are used as well, such as concrete for the base. Other materials such as
steel, chrome, aluminium are available as well.

Fig 4.20
Selection of Mental Ray Renderer
To further refine the surface texture of the model, the material can be selected to have a
certain type of finishing. Fig 4.21 shows the options of glass to be either clear or translucent.

Fig 4.21
Selection of Materials

The next step would be to adjust the lighting conditions of the material and selection the
choice of backgrounds. To make the model more realistic, it is viable to modify the degree of
opacity as well as glossiness for all materials. It is also possible to tweak the camera
properties obtain the desired lens effects on the final picture.

Fig 4.22
Lighting Conditions and Background

4.5.5 Result

Fig 4.23
Third Completed Tower Crane Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m)

Fig 4.24
Fourth Completed Tower Crane Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m)
4.6 Conclusion for Stage 1

By completing stage 1, the author learnt a lot on the design of tower cranes, the design
process flow as well as experimenting on the different drawing methodologies of the
components. The foundation built from learning these skills provides an advantageous edge
when comparing the possibility of utilizing the product-family-based design approach later in
stage 3.

With quality rendering features when using 3DsMax, it justifies 3DsMax as a preferred
choice for developing tower crane models. The author has managed to overcome the
disadvantage of low dimensional tolerance control, preserving the degree of accuracy for the
dimensions of the tower crane models. Hence, the utilization of 3DsMax is fully justifiable as
it is able to produce quality models and realistic renderings.

4.7 Additional High-Top EC-H Family Models

Additional tower crane models from the Liebherr family has been produced in order to
emphasize on the key distinguishing features among the top-slewing cranes and these include
different methods of designing through the process. The 3 additional cranes will include: 280
EC-H 16 Litronic, 550 EC-H 20 Litronic and 630 EC-H Litronic.

4.7.1 The 5th Model: 280 EC-H 16 Litronic

The 280 EC-H 16 Litronic is part of the EC-H family. Similar to its 12 Litronic counterpart,
this model features a maximum lifting capacity of 16,000kg coupled with a maximum radius
of up to 70m. It is a slightly bigger version of the 12 Litronic and is fully functional in the
simulator programme as well.

Fig 4.25
280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC

4.7.2 The 6th Model: 550 EC-H 20 Litronic

Standing at a maximum hook height of 81.10m, the 550 EC-H 20 Litronic has an even
heavier maximum lifting capacity at 20,000kg together with a longer radius of 81.50m. This
model is considered to be one of the mid-range products in the EC-H family and several
components had to undergo extensive modifications due to the different subassemblies used
as compared to the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic. Nevertheless, it runs smoothly in the simulator,
and is shown in the later parts of the report.

Fig 4.26
550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC

4.7.2 The 7th Model: 630 EC-H 40 Litronic

The final model in this report will be the 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC. Although this above-
average top slewing crane has a shorter maximum radius of 80.0m, it makes up for its
disadvantage by being capable of lifting up to 40,000kg. Designed more for heavy-duty
construction projects, it features a double trolley system for its hook. This model too, is
featured in the simulator programme section of the report.

Fig 4.27
630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC

5. Design Validation [Stage 2]
The objective of design validation is to insure that the tower crane models produced are in
correct dimensions and able to be simulated into the simulator program. It is crucial that the
validation process is carried out meticulously as the cranes are to be manufactured out in
solid models in future to simulate real life construction.

The author has decided to focus on validating dimensions and simulation integration for the
crane models since these factors are key factors for usability in the project teams research.

5.1 Dimension Validation (Blueprints)

By using Solidworks to produce blueprints of the model families created in Stage 1, it would
be easier to validate the designs in terms of dimensions and accuracy. Having the blueprints
can also make it easier for future designers embarking on this project to manufacture the
structure for testing purposes. It is also a good form of documentation.

The model blueprints have high accuracy when compared to the manufacturers drawings and
due to the complexity and unavailability of some dimensions, it is impossible to achieve a
100% replica. Nevertheless, it will still have similar features and will function as expected in
the simulator programme.

*Note: The relevant manufacturers data sheets have been included here instead of the appendix
section for ease of comparison.

5.1.1 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC

5.1.2 Produced 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC Blueprints

5.1.3 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC

5.1.4 Produced 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC Blueprints

5.1.5 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC

5.1.6 Produced 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC Blueprints

5.1.7 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC

5.1.8 Produced 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC Blueprints

5.1.9 Conclusion for Dimension Validation

After comparing the manufacturers drawings and the engineering drawings of the models, a
tolerable minimal variance of less than 3% was noted. These errors are attributed to the
compounding effects of minute dimension accuracies of the components assembled due to
3DsMaxs high degree of dimensionality.

However, some of the parts have dimensional discrepancies of up to 10% as modifications

were done to the original parts layout (eg. Size of the counterweights). These dimensions are
not crucial to the functionality and overall major dimensions of the cranes. In this case, there
is no need to correct the dimensions the design team agreed that non-crucial components can
have a higher dimensional variation.

The tower crane designs are thus considered acceptable after making the required changes.
Hence, the crane models are considered to be dimension validated.

5.2 Corrective Actions Required For Simulator Compatibility

As the simulator programme only accepts files ending with .3DS only, 3DsMax is a key
component to making the models function in the simulator and certain adjustments are
required before the tower crane designs become fully simulator-compatible.

In addition to the naming procedure and attaching the appropriate materials to the designs
mentioned in earlier chapters, this section will now outline the actions required to transform
the models done to be simulator-compatible. The author developed these methods after
performing copious validation attempts and evaluation.

5.2.1 Performing X-Form on All Components [Compulsory]

After converting the Solidworks and Inventor files into 3Ds Max, the components of the
crane may lose their position identity and be grouped together by default. All the parts will be
displayed at the X: 0, Y: 0, Z: 0 coordinates and the simulator would reflect the exact same
issue as shown in Fig 5.1.

Solving this issue would require manually editing the coordinates of each section of the
model to its appropriate and exact height as in the Solidworks or Inventors file. By re-
allocating the part-pivot as shown in Fig 5.2, it is possible to adjust the position of the crane
parts to precise positions.

Fig 5.1 Fig 5.2

Identical X:0 Y:0 Z:0 Coordinate Issue Re-setting the Pivot point

After making the desired position adjustments to the model, it is necessary to perform the X-
Form function on every component in the design in order to lock-in their permanent
coordinates. Components that were not X-Formed are found to have the same position issue
in the simulator programme. Fig 5.3 & Fig 5.4 shows the steps taken to perform an X-Form.

Fig 5.3 Fig 5.4
Re-setting the Pivot point Ensuring the Component is X-Formed

After clicking on the hammer tool icon in Fig 5.2, select the Reset xForm option and
choose the Reset Selected button. Every Reset Selected button selected would X-Form the
component once.

From Fig 5.3, we can verify that the component has been X-Formed twice. Based on
experiences, it would be wise to XForm all components twice to ensure that the simulator
programme portrays every subassembly part in its rightful X, Y, Z coordinates.

5.2.2 Positioning Of Parts [Compulsory]

For the simulator to function normally, the crane model must be positioned in a particular
manner as explained below. Fig 5.4 shows an illustrated example of a case where the 3
required rules was not fulfilled.

The length of the Jib and counterweight must coincide with the Y-Axis
The entire length of the Mast section must be aligned with the Z-Axis
The Base must appear flat on the X-Y plane.

In order to rectify the issue, the entire assembly would have to be selected and then rotated
and moved to the desired location. By using the transform window, the 2 parameters can be
easily altered as shown in Fig 5.5.

Fig 5.5 Fig 5.6
Misaligned Model Position and Rotation Transformation option

5.2.3 Attaching of Components in a part [Compulsory]

As the simulator requires the crane model to only exist in a limited number of parts with
specific naming, the smaller parts would have to be combined to form a single named
component. Due to the relative ease of attaching as compared to separating, it would be
preferable to merge the parts later in 3Ds Max rather than separate the parts.

To form a main component, for example the Mast, it requires the attaching of the ladder
part to the steel frame part in the following order as shown in Fig 5.6:

Select the steel frame part of the mast

Right click to convert it to editable poly
Under the modify tab, click on the attach function
Select the ladder part to be attached to the steel frame part to form Mast

Fig 5.7
Steps to Attach the Different Subassemblies 62
5.3 Simulation Integration Validation

After performing the necessary corrective actions, the simulated crane models are shown in
Fig 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.10, 5.11, 5.12, 5.13.

Fig 5.8
Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC

Fig 5.9
Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC
Fig 5.10
Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m)

Fig 5.11
Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m)

Fig 5.12
Simulated Model: 280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC

Fig 5.13
Simulated Model: 550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC

Fig 5.14
Simulated Model: 630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC

5.3.1 Conclusion for Simulation Integration Validation

By simulating all models on the programme, the crane models can be considered to be fully
functional and operational. With this validation process completed, the product family
methodology will be thoroughly explained in the following chapter.

6. Product Family Modular-Based Crane Design [Stage 3]
The eventual objective of this project is to establish a new technique that will boost the
efficiency of designing a family of tower cranes by reducing the modelling time. In the
previous 2 stages, the author addressed challenges on understanding the crane model
functions, the tower crane simulator, and gained significant knowledge and experience with
tower crane models using the conventional build-from-scratch method. In this final stage, the
author will provide a rundown on the key learning points from the newly developed concept
base on the Product Family and Modular-Based Design Approach.

6.1 Definition

The concept of a Product Family approach is not an uncommon sight in manufacturing

sectors, especially in the defence and aerospace industry. A family of products is essentially a
range of products possessing similar functionality while having different specifications and
capacity to meet distinct needs as shown in Fig 5.1. Modularity as shown in Fig 5.2 depicts
the plug-and-play concept, enabling a relative ease of adding and removing functional parts.

Fig 6.1 Fig 6.2

Similar Functionality but Different Specifications Plug-and-play Concept

By combining the two concepts, Product Family Modular-based Design approach is the plug-
and-play methodology that allows products to be created from different parts of the same
catalogue. This lowers the product development time which could help meet demand for the
intended job. For instance, a designer wanting to create a tower crane with a longer radius
could just replace the 50m Jib length with its 70m counterpart.

6.2 Concept

The Product Family Modular-based methodology has proved itself to be highly time-efficient
and effective during the period of developing tower crane models for the simulation purpose.

By creating a tree diagram of the modular subassemblies that are modelled for easy
modifications as shown in Fig 6.3, it would be clearer to visualize the entire functionality and
relational-based constraints at one go. The tree would also be split into branches identifying
the various subassemblies.

Mast Counter-Weight Jib Apex Jib Base Cabin Hook

Standard Standard Standard 8 Section Area Standard Standard

Height Length Height 6 Section Height Height 1 trolley
Colour Colour Colour Length Colour Size 2 trolley

Fig 6.3
Tree Diagram for Product Family Modular-Based Concept

Depending on the vital specifications for the new model tower crane, the appropriate
subassembly design template can thus be selected to suit the required dimensions, features
etc. These subassemblies can then be pieced together to for the new tower crane model.

In the event of unique circumstances where more alteration is necessary, modifications can be
made to the dimensions of the templates with relative ease.

6.3 Classification of Liebherr Tower Crane Models

In order to classify the different Liebherr tower crane models according to their similarity in
design, it is vital to understand the different types of cranes in the market so as to better
compile the subassembly model templates.

From the authors previous experience with the Liebherr Top-Slewing cranes, especially
during Stages 1 and 2, it was noted that there were two differentiating the various High-Top
EC-H crane models. Hence, the author took the liberty of categorizing the cranes produced
into the Table 6.1.

Table 6.1
Top-Slewing Crane Families

Although the groupings of the High-Top EC-H cranes feature various maximum payload and
radius, it was noted during Stage 1 of the project that the sizes of certain components were
repetitive throughout the family, thus the author has decided to use the payload capacity as
the major grouping criteria.

6.3.1 Limitations

Due to the restricted length of the project duration, the author could only focus on the certain
models of the High-Top EC-H crane family. In reality, the family possess 9 tower crane
models ranging from the 200 EC-H 10 Litronic to the 1000 EC-H 50 Litronic with payload
capacities amounting to 10,000kg to 50,000kg respectively. As a result, the author could only
focus on the middle class of the family in order to fully exploit the advantages of both sides.

6.4 Model Characteristics

For the template designs to be easily modifiable, many of the detailed components and
aesthetic features have to be replaced by standard primitive shapes. This allows the template
modifications to be straightforward due to its reduced complexity. It also reduces total
development time as models can be completed at a much faster rate. Although the down-side
to this approach is a low-detail model coupled with reduced precision, it may not be a
disadvantage considering that the crane simulator does not work well with highly detailed
models with many faces.

Fig 6.4
Trade-off between Template model and Actual model

6.5 Objectives for Template Design

Considering the aim of this concept development to be directed towards the crane designs
having a functional-only purpose, these tower crane models should:

Have the same dimensions as stated by the manufacturers drawings.

Have the same number of components as the actual tower crane.
(Number of Mast & Jib sections)
Possess accurate maximum radius length and maximum hoisting height.

On the other hand, the non-vital points include:

The aesthetic and cosmetic details.

The unknown dimensions which are not included in the manufacturers drawings.
Internal layout and structure of the crane components as long as their functionalities
are not compromised.

6.6 Methodology

6.6.1 Template Subassembly Modelling

In order to further ease the modification process, secondary dimensioning can also be
employed alongside relational-based constraining (Stage 1) and simple primitives developing
to form the different subassembly template models.

Secondary dimensioning relates two bodies together. (Eg. The length of Y is 4mm longer
than X) From Fig 6.5, secondary dimensioning would mean that the outer square would
always be 4mm longer than the inner square, with the blue dots acting as the midpoint

If the diagram were to be scaled down manually, 8 dimensional values would require
modifications. However, relational-based constraining method would require 4 dimensions to
be modified while the secondary dimensioning method only needs 2 dimensions to be
changed. Taking the number of dimensional changes to be proportionate to the efficiency due
to the shorter modification time as well as contributing to the ease of modification, secondary
dimensioning is a key component in a faster development time.

Fig 6.6 shows the use of secondary dimensioning for a crane component in the template

Fig 6.5
Before Modification

Fig 6.6
After Modification

Fig 6.7
Secondary Dimensioning used on a Template Model

6.6.2 Template Subassembly Modelling

The following Table 6.2 depicts the recommended process to follow to model a tower crane
design based on the Product Family Modular-Based Design concept. This time-saving
improvement will allow crane designers to more effectively utilize the 3Ds Max programme.

Step 2 Choose the best template
model from their
appropriate catalogue
folders and open them.

[Eg. Mast (2.45/2.45/5.8),

Base (10/10/8.5)]

Step 3 Modify the subassemblies to

appropriate sizes using the
Standard Operating
Procedure as a guide. Guide
is attached in the appendix

Step 4 Use the modified assembly

files and apply the necessary
constraints between the
different components.

Step 5 The tower crane model is

now complete and it is now
possible to make the
compulsory changes (Stage
1) to the model before
testing its simulating
compatibility (Stage 2).

Table 6.2
Steps to Create Models Based on Product Family Approach

6.7 Results

The product family modular-based design methodology was a great success due to its
capability to vastly reduce the development time. In addition to attempting the other models
again, the concept has been passed on to the students from the Masters of Engineering course
(M6226). Table 6.3 shows the various models and their corresponding time taken to complete
each of them. The engineering blueprints of the models are all included in Section 5.1.

Liebherr Tower Crane Model Time Taken to Complete

280 EC-H 12 Litronic 500HC 5 Weeks
280 EC-H 12 Litronic 355HC 4 Weeks
280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (8m) 3 Weeks
280 EC-H 12 Litronic 256HC (6m) 2 Weeks
280 EC-H 16 Litronic 500HC -
550 EC-H 20 Litronic 500HC -
630 EC-H 40 Litronic 500HC -

Table 6.3
Time Taken to Complete the Various Models

6.8 Applications

The product family modular-based crane design is suitable for performing functional analysis
research on the simulator programme. Designers can use this methodology to plan, select and
test the chosen tower crane model to find out the suitability of the crane model for the job.

This methodology can also be used to produce new tower crane models that are not available
in the current market. As the concept allows many modification options from dimensional
adjustment to plug-and-play subassemblies, a new tower crane design can easily be produced
by testing a wide combination of subassembly templates and components. Aided with the
simulator programme and applications such as Augment, it is possible to gather potential
investors and feedback on the cranes ahead of production.

The concept is not limited to Liebherr crane families and can be utilized on other equipment
from different brands as well. The authors designs can also be adjusted to cater to other
layouts such as the Flat-Top cranes.

7. Conclusion and Recommendations for Future Studies
7.1 Contributions

After spending about a year with the design team, the author performed a few primary
contributions towards the development of the NTU tower crane simulator project. These

Development of the Product Family Modular-based design concept

Production of a new family of tower cranes based from Liebherr investigation.
Step-by-step methodology for crane modelling for future crane designers.

Through the course of the project, the author has not only proofed and validated the tower
crane models to possess accurate dimensions and compatibilities but also to perform realistic
rendering to all models. By experimenting with various designing software like 3Ds Max,
Solidworks and Inventor, the author could recognize the best programme to use.

Simulator Development
Software Realistic Rendering
Compatibility Time
Autodesk 3Ds Max Excellent Short
Autodesk Inventor Excellent - Medium
Solidworks Excellent - Medium
Table 7.1
Comparison of the Different Design Software

By achieving the key objective of developing shortening the development time for designing
tower crane modes, future designers can save on cost and time, which could then be allocated
for practical purposes.

With the product family modular-based design concept tested, it will revamp the current
tower crane designing methodology.

7.2 Recommendations for Future Studies

Even though the product family modular-based methodology has been used for crane
designing in NTU, the success of the authors results proved that it is a viable option and
further studies can be conducted in this field.

Due to the limited time constraints, the author was not able to further explore the concept to
cover other types of tower cranes like the Flat-Top, Heavy-Load and Luffing families.
However, the author managed to explore not only the 280 EC-H 12 Litronic family but
expanded it to include other tower crane families in the High-Top EC-H category like the 280
EC-H 16 Litronic, 550 EC-H 20 Litronic and 630 EC-H 40 Litronic.

Using the same concpet, future studies could be done to incorporate tower cranes of other
brands to understand and develop their layout and structure by designing a similar system.

Perhaps a programme could be developed to assist with the manual methods of implementing
the Standard Operating Procedure as it is rather tedious to sort out the various subassemblies
of components and editing them one at a time. This programme could be used to further
lower development time and amplify the ease of modification.

Another possible area of reasearch would be to determine if the product family modular-
based design concept could be applied in other components in the tower crane model, to
simulate the realistic-feel of being the driver in the cabin, with the layout controls functional
or for the manual set-up of the actual crane itself.

As for the simulator programme, it could be enhanced to include stress analysis of the models
and jib bending to ensure safety and produce realistic results.

7.3 Personal Reflection

Since embarking on the Final Year Project, I have gained new knowledge and skills in
aspects such as design and operations as well as from problems and challenges relating to
mobile crane design, software familiarization and even addressing issues from students in the
masters of engineering course (M6226). Overcoming these obstacles has made me coming
out with a strong foundation in tower crane design as well as soft skills such as problem
trobleshooting and rectification, team work and demonstration abilities. I strongly believe
that the skills learnt from this project will allow me to have an advantage in the working

The validation stage of the project could be considered to be the most tedious portion as I had
to repeatedly adjust and modify components to resolve errors. Due to the high intricacy of the
tower crane models and the error-propagating effect, it is vital that I had to diagnose the root
problems and nip it in the bud. Although frustrating, I was determined to be detail oriented as
any error uncorrected might pose a grave safety concern especially in the construction
industry where other external factors might exacerbate the flaws. Also, it allowed me to
appreciate and deepen my understanding of the system.

After several months of hard work, I could see the family product modular-based concept
come to fruition as I developed the subassembly template system. This hard earned
experience helped me to gain confidence towards my work and my creativity has been made
used of to develop unique ideas and models. I am certain that what I have designed is handy
for the NTU crane design team and will undoubtedly increase productivity and safety norms
for the tower crane industry.

8. References
[1] 280 EC-H 12 Litronic. (n.d.). From

[2] 280 EC-H 16 Litronic. (n.d.). From


[3] 550 EC-H 20 Litronic. (n.d.). From


[4] 630 EC-H 40 Litronic. (n.d.). From




[6] Croucher, Martin (11 November 2009). "Myth of Babu Sassi Remains After Burj Cranes Come
Down". Khaleej Times. Retrieved 3 June 2011.

[7] Elliott, Matthew (2015-12-19). "Tower crane anatomy". Crane & Rigging. Retrieved 19
December 2015.

[8] European Software Institute (ESI). Retrieved February 17, 2006, from

[9] Fan I., S., Liu C., K., Product family and variants: Definition and models . In J. Ashayeri, W.
G. Sullivan, and M. M. Ahmad, editors, Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing 1999,
Tilburg, The Netherlands, June 1999.

[10] Erens F., J., Verhulst K., Architectures for product families . Computers in Industry,
vol.33 pp.165-178,1997.

[11] Liebherr-Annual-Report 2014. From

[12] "the component of the tower cranes". 2012-04-21. Retrieved2012-08- 15.

[13] Kamat, V. R. and Martinez, J. C. (2001). Visualizing simulated construction operations in 3D.
Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, 15(4), 329337.

[14] Patent US6422408 - Method and device for mounting the masthead of tower cranes. (n.d.). From crane

[15] Patent US3466723 - Methods for erecting tower cranes. (n.d.). From for erecting tower cranes

[16] Ulrich K., Tung K., Fundamentals of product modularity . In Issues in Design Manufacture
Integration, vol. 39. ASME, 1991

Standard Operating Procedure (Product Family Modular-Based Methodology)

Mast/ Delivery Jib

1. Height
2. Length and Width
3. Ladder dimensions
4. Pulley dimensions
5. Rope length

Counter Jib/ Counter Weight

1. Height
2. Length and Width
3. Rope length

Hook/ Delivery Trolley

2. Pulley to Pulley distance (Horizontal)

3. Pulley to Pulley distance (Vertical)
4. Pulley dimensions
5. Rope length


1. Distance of Pulley to Pivot

2. Distance of Counter-weight to Pivot
3. Length and Width

Base/ Concrete Slab

1. Height
2. Length and Width