Reaching out to the sky

1510G with a long crane

Iceland is a large island with rugged landscape formed by volcanic eruptions over the country’s history. There is ever-changing, freezing weather and absolutely no shelter from howling winds due to a lack of forests. Sounds dramatic? It is, however, just another day in their “outdoor office” when Landsnet’s maintenance crew packs into a big four-by-four drive vehicle and heads to a high-voltage power line on the mountains east of the city of Reykjavik. 

The task at hand is to replace isolators at 25 meters’ height. Power has been shut down from this part of the line for the time needed to complete the work. Since the summer 2020, most maintenance duties have been carried out with a totally new machine concept: a John Deere 1510G forwarder as a base machine equipped with a Palfinger crane which can reach up to almost 30 meters. With a maximum travel speed of over 20 km/h, a rotating and leveling cabin, an extended bogey and a decking blade, the John Deere forwarder provides unmatched terrain capability and lifting stability for Landsnet’s applications. The development project was implemented through a truly international team work involving the John Deere factory in Finland,  John Deere dealers in Norway and Germany, as well as the Palfinger dealers in Austria and Iceland.

Great terrain capability and improved work safety

The new machine has met all the expectations of Branch Manager Ragnar Bjarni Jónsson, the project leader at Landsnet: “Our crew does maintenance, construction and repair work on high-voltage power lines and sub-stations. Challenging terrain and weather conditions have made it an extreme duty for us to move big cranes to the work areas and none of the previous equipment have fulfilled all our needs. We wanted to improve our capabilities by a longer reach where we can lift the man basket and increase terrain capability. Improved personal safety and environmental factors, like reduced fuel consumption, were also important. We wanted to have a more stable machine which enables the use of all the features of the latest cranes even in the slopes with a help of a boom tilt system. We also have to be able to work during the biggest snow storms with winds up to 50 meters per second. We looked at many options but came to the conclusion that a forwarder would offer the most complete solution. It combines most aspects of the work we do into one machine: it is a rubber-tire machine which is a big advantage in good conditions where any other machine would ruin the ground. Compared to a tractor, you can install a much bigger crane on the forwarder,” says Jónsson.

Powerful crane with  a tilt and stabilizers

Stabilizer and John Deere 1510G“The 1510G forwarder is perfectly suited for working on power lines at 12 to 25 meters’ height. It has a very capable man-lift crane. The tilt system is amazing. It is very hard to see how the machine could tip over which has happened with other off-road equipment. The cabin levelling system handles the inclines very well both sideways and going up and down, and it is a fantastic machine to drive with the rotating cabin. Thanks to the length and the weight of the base machine, you can just see and feel how stable the machine is when working with the crane. Stabilisers on the side of the machine provide additional safety. With the crane tilt, we always get a stable and straight platform to make a straight lift. In slopes, getting a straight lift with the crane tilt’s up to 25 degree tilt capacity, is a huge step forward,” concludes Jónsson.

The main operator Rúnar Freyr Rúnarsson is equally satisfied with the new machine: “There will be a wide range of duties where we can use the new machine: change of isolators, lifting timber poles, lifting people, all repairs and ice removal from lines. This machine has really fulfilled all our wishes,” summarizes Rúnarsson. Rain and strong wind continue throughout the late autumn day. Despite the miserable conditions, the Landsnet crew can be satisfied when returning to the city as the daylight runs out: the day’s work has again been completed effectively and safely.

In The Forest 1/2020