Tag Archives: Johnson Crane Hire


The Ombepo Wind Farm, the first wind farm to be constructed in Namibia, is situated just outside Luderitz, Southern Namibia and is designed to inject 5 MW into the national grid managed by NamPower, the national utility.

The wind farm was built by InnoSun Energy Holdings (Pty) Ltd who secured the services of Johnson Renew to transport the larger components that make up the wind turbines to site and to undertake the installation of the components on site.

InnoSun is, to date, the largest IPP in Namibia with 20 MW of solar and wind farms currently in operation. Pioneering the renewable energy sector in Namibia since 2008, InnoSun continues to actively develop, finance, build and operate numbers of different renewable energy projects across the country and beyond. InnoSun is currently the largest local supplier of power to NamPower. With its 17 years of experience in the wind industry thanks to its mother company, InnoVent; InnoVent has built 105 MW farms in South Africa through its daughter company, InnoWind.

Cornelis Grotius, general manager at Johnson Renew, says that the company’s ability to offer a turnkey solution such as this was a major advantage for InnoSun as it ensured a seamless operation.

The contract with InnoSun started in June 2017 and was completed mid-August with the wind farm coming on line end August 2017. Apart from the lifts, Johnson Renew also transported a total of 27 abnormal loads from the port of Luderitz to the site, a distance of some 9 km of which 5 km was on a national route and the balance on a private road.

Grotius says there are currently no cranes of this lifting capability available in Namibia, but that this was only one of the reasons why Johnson Renew was contracted as the customer’s TCI partner.

He explains that lifts of this nature involve heavy loads installed at extreme heights and it is critical that the lifting activity is undertaken by a company that fully understands the associated risks and has the necessary competence and experience.

“Lifting such large components on a wind farm also present other challenges; chief amongst these is the fact that the wind farm is obviously situated in a windy region of the country,” he continues. Notably Johnson Renew has completed numerous wind farm lifts across the southern African region and has an established reputation in this sector for performing these safely and to the required standards.

Important value added services are Johnson Renew’s in-house project management and engineering capabilities, which facilitate the requisite engineering planning and risk management activities prior to the actual execution of the work. This also allows Johnson Renew to provide an optimal fit-for-purpose lifting solution that is both cost effective and safe.

The wind turbines stand 80 metres tall and are fitted with blades that are 45,3 metres in length. The heaviest component on the turbines is the generator unit with a weight of 65,7 ton. The turbine type is an XEMCXE93-2000 wind turbine.

“The depth of our crane fleet is also a benefit to the customer as this allows the flexibility to provide solutions irrespective of the lifting requirements. In the case of the Ombepo Wind Farm we used an LTM 1750-9.1 hydraulic mobile crane which has a 750 ton lifting capacity,” Grotius says.

Johnson Renew has an operating philosophy of supporting local communities in areas where it secures projects and in line with this important strategy the company contracted a local crane hire company to provide two hydraulic mobile cranes (one 90 t unit and one 170 t unit) as support cranes to the main crane for this lifting project. These cranes were used for the assembly and relocation of the main crane as well as the tailing of the tower sections.

Grotius says that the strategy of economic input into the local population also extended to the employment of riggers, technicians and crane operators as well as general labour. Use was also made of the local supply chain wherever possible and skills transfer was applied where appropriate.

“By developing the local community’s skills base, we are not only empowering them for future sustainability but we are also feeding money back into the regional economy,” he says. From site establishment to final handover the company was in the region for just over two and a half months during which time the community benefited.

Johnson Renew has a strong safety and quality track record in arduous and complicated lifting conditions, and Grotius says the company is well positioned to meet demanding project requirements.


The long-awaited sign-off of agreements with 27 renewable energy projects will hopefully revitalise South Africa’s efforts to build the green energy sector and enhance power generation capacity, says Johnson Crane Hire sales executive Peter Yaman.

“The construction of wind farms around South Africa created some exciting new opportunities for the crane hire sector,” says Yaman, “and Johnson Crane Hire took full advantage to participate in the major wind farm projects to date, both here and in Namibia.”

The recent move by new Energy Minister Jeff Radebe to put the department’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Projects (REIPPP) initiative back on track is intended to re-confirm government’s commitment not only to renewable energy but also to its partnership with the private sector. The programme is expected to bring R56 billion in new investment into the economy over the next two to three years.

“This is good news for the economy, and for versatile and well-equipped operators like us,” says Yaman. “We have constantly upgraded our heavy lift capability, and this has served us well in conducting lifts for wind farms. In particular, we have used a state-of-the-art LTR 11200 hydraulic telescopic narrow-track crawler crane with 1,200 tonne capacity – which is ideal for this application – as well as an LG 1750 lattice-boom truck-mounted crane with 750 tonne capacity.”

He highlights how larger cranes can speed up projects and improve safety on site, by lifting complete equipment instead of smaller, individual parts which would still need to be assembled at height.

“The components that make up a wind turbine are mostly large and very heavy, and they need to be lifted to extreme heights,” he says. “We look forward to being able to demonstrate the benefits of larger cranes as more projects are now initiated in the region’s wind energy and the broader renewable energy sector.”

He cautioned, however, that lifting on wind farms has a range of its own challenges, many emanating from the high wind factor that naturally characterises the areas where wind farms are established.

“Planning is vital in all lifting activities, but is especially important on wind farms,” says Yaman. “For instance, it is often necessary to conduct lifts at night because this is when the strength of the wind has dropped to acceptable levels.”

He emphasised that as the demand for larger capacity cranes has continued, Johnson Crane Hire has kept abreast of the trend by continuing to invest in larger lift capacity. The company has a wide range of cranes in its fleet, including hydraulic, telescopic, lattice-boom crawler and lattice-boom truck-mounted cranes.

“Crane hire remains a highly specialised activity, with expensive capital equipment supported by specialist technicians and certified operators,” he concludes. “With all these factors, combined with the compliance requirements, it is not surprising that most construction and mining companies prefer to rely on crane rental specialists rather than own and operate this equipment themselves.”


Lifting solutions leader Johnson Crane Hire has assisted Guerrini Marine Construction (GMC) to successfully complete vital maintenance at Cape Town’s breakwater – considered one of the most essential aspects of the infrastructure for the Port of Cape Town and the popular V&A Waterfront.

Johnson Crane Hire’s Heavy Lift Division supplied one of its 400 tonne crawler cranes to lift and place some 155 concrete dolosse – each weighing 25 tonnes. The work was carried out for Transnet Port Authority on the ‘spur’ section at the southern end of the breakwater between March and November 2017, adding these dolosse to withstand the sea’s action on the breakwater.

The purpose of the spur is to prevent the long-shore movement of rubble and debris from the adjacent cobble beach, which could get between the dolos units on the main breakwater and damage them through a powerful grinding action. The core and under layers of the spur are constructed of rock and concrete rubble, while the deck is closed off with a single layer of concrete blocks; its side slopes are protected with dolos units. The main breakwater – the central section of the breakwater – spans a distance of 500 metres and is protected on the seaward side by dolosse.

The northern section of the breakwater is a vertical wall, located in deeper water and without any armour protection on the seaward side. It spans 365 metres and comprises concrete block work and caissons. The whole breakwater structure is crucial for the safe entry of vessels into the port, as well as for berthing and operations in the port.

“One of the most challenging aspects of the project at the spur was to create a two metre trench underwater in the bedrock so that the first line – or toe – of dolosse would not move on the seabed,” says GMC chief executive officer Adrian Guerrini. “We used a piling crane to chisel through the rock, and our tug dredged the broken material away. These activities were highly dependent on good weather, so the variable weather conditions – including the storms of June 2017 – made it difficult to work to schedule.”

Guerrini says the choice of crane was perfect for the application, especially as certain days required the crane to cover substantial ground. It would have to move about 10 metres while carrying a 25 tonne dolos and 10 metres back to a pick-up point for the next unit.

“The crane was also able to manage the placing of the dolosse at the maximum distance of 38 metres to the underwater trench,” he says. “The mobility and productivity of the crane was a key factor in completing the project on time. We were able to move one dolos from the deck and into place in just one hour.”

Produced by precast concrete specialists Concrete Units, the dolosse were delivered to site at the rate of six per day, and were placed by the crane in a storage area. These were then lifted and placed in specified positions according to the layout design, with about a third of these below the water line.

According to Cornelis Grotius, general manager of Johnson Crane Hire Heavy Lift Division, the crawler crane was the ideal machine to undertake the lifting duties on this contract because of its mobility and strength, enabling it to move swiftly between installation positions as the project progressed.

“This type of project requires the lifting equipment to move efficiently from one position to another, so called for a higher level of mobility than can be offered by a mobile hydraulic machine,” says Grotius. “We chose the Kobelco CKE4000 from our fleet as it packs the necessary lifting capacity, and also offered the required reach.”

Among the advantages of the crawler crane is the stability achieved by the wide tracks spreading the weight out over a larger area, so it can operate without outriggers and can travel with a load.

Johnson Crane Hire is well established in Cape Town and operates a comprehensive fleet in this region; when necessary, its wide range of mobile cranes is supplemented from its other branches nationwide.


Lifting solutions leader Johnson Crane Hire showcased its latest fleet addition – a large Liebherr LTR11200 narrow track mobile crawler crane – at a customer open day in Cape Town recently, reminding the market why they remain a key and trusted partner locally and nationally.

As an indication of the fleet’s popularity, this new 1200 t capacity unit had already been kept busy on projects for over 18 months, and this was the first opportunity the company had to bring it into the yard for other customers to witness.

Lifting solutions leader Johnson Crane Hire showcased its latest fleet addition – a large Liebherr LTR11200 narrow track mobile crawler crane.

The company has been active in a range of sectors including construction, renewable energy (both wind and solar), conventional power stations including coal fired, oil and gas, film-making, mining and petrochemical.

Customers at the event at Johnson Crane Hire’s Epping facility received insights into the company’s vision for 2020 from managing director Lalith Senarathne. He reconfirmed the commitment of the company to continue delivering market-leading service to Cape Town-based customers, strengthening the relationships of trust on which the success of the business has been built.

In addition to the LTR11200 unit, there were also 35t and 60t mobile cranes on show which are available in Cape Town to service the regional market. Exciting news from the firm is that they have added a 180 t and a 440 t mobile crane to the fleet in Cape Town – to cover a wider range of projects.

The new 1200t crane that Johnson Crane Hire added to its already extensive fleet.

Johnson Crane Hire also offers value added services including upfront engineering and technical support, project management, heavy and specialised transportation, heavy rigging services and alternative lifting solutions including jacking and sliding options.


Maintenance on wind farms is a complex operation especially when large, heavy components need to be replaced, and this calls for the expertise of a company that has the necessary experience and capability.

Janet Barnes, key account manager at Johnson Crane Hire, says that removing and installing heavy loads at extreme heights brings with it additional particular challenges when these activities are being done in windy conditions.

“Lifting on wind farms require careful planning and attention to detail to ensure that the lifts are conducted safely,” she explains. “Coordination between the wind farm operator and the lifting specialist is essential to ensure that all aspects of the lift are dovetailed to facilitate lifting and replacement of these components safely.”

Due to the height of the wind turbine towers, which range from 80 to 115 metres, it is necessary to provide large capacity cranes that have the lifting capacity, as well as the required reach.

Johnson Crane Hire has the necessary depth within its fleet of cranes to accommodate these challenging lifts. The company recently completed the replacement of the main bearings at the Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm, the Noupoort Wind Farm and the Sere Wind Farms.

Barnes explains that the main bearing is housed in the nacelle and weighs approximately 18 t. The wind turbine tower at Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm is 80 metres high, while the towers at Noupoort Wind Farm and Sere Wind Farm stand 115 metres tall.

Barnes says that to access the bearing it is necessary to first remove the 60 t rotor and place it on the hard stand. Following this, the main bearing is removed from the nacelle and also placed on the hard stand. The new main bearing is then lifted into position, and the rotor is then replaced.

“This is an intricate operation that requires careful planning as well as close communication between the turbine technician, the lift supervisor and the crane operator to ensure that equipment is handled and placed safely and accurately during the lifts,” Barnes says.

Describing the operation, Barnes explains that the rotor is lowered to a predetermined height where a blade clamp is attached to the lowest (vertical) blade in the star formation. “This is achieved by using a secondary crane to complete this tandem lift or “top and tail operation”. This process is repeated in reverse when the rotor is reattached to the tower,” she says.

Because of the varying heights of the towers and the fact that these lifting contracts ran consecutively it was decided to use a lattice boom mobile crane which offers the capacity to remove and replace the main bearings. This was also considered the most cost effective solution for the customer.

“A major advantage when dealing with Johnson Crane Hire is the level of flexibility applied to complex and challenging lifts,” Barnes says. “Doing these lifts underscores this as it was necessary to commence work in the early hours of the morning when the wind was at its lowest on the site. This was done to ensure optimum levels of safety during the lifting activities.”

While it is unsafe to undertake lifting work in windy conditions, the lifting or removal of the rotor is particularly sensitive to wind force due to the large surface area of the rotor, resulting in extremely low allowable wind speeds, in which these lifts can be performed.

Johnson Crane Hire is continually updating its fleet with new and technologically advanced cranes and equipment to ensure that the company is able to support the market and ever changing needs and requirements.

“An essential element to operating such technologically advanced equipment is to ensure that our operators and support personal are continually trained and sufficiently skilled to operate this equipment. Training and certification is performed both in-house through our accredited training school and facility. This is supported by our equipment suppliers, who provide training and equipment familiarisation, performed both locally and in Europe,” Barnes says.