Residential homebuilders are seeing outstanding gains in efficiency and cost savings when they replace traditional equipment with Potain self-erecting tower cranes. Where telehandlers and forklifts once ruled residential projects, Potain self-erecting cranes are taking over in a big way, and companies are seeing large payoffs as a result.
Back in 2004, Pinetop Custom Homes (Pinetop) were using a forklift to help build pre-fabricated homes. It was a laborious method of material handling that required lots of ground preparation, the support of manual labor, and was not very efficient in many homebuilding tasks. That was until Dusty Bitton, owner of the McCall, Idaho-based company, learned about the benefits of self-erecting cranes for homebuilding projects.
The company switched from using a forklift to move materials to deploying a self-erecting crane, which improved efficiency on jobsites. The crane’s remote control operating system gives the operator greater precision when placing lifts, helps improve visibility, and increases efficiency.
“We are able to build houses 50% faster with Potain self-erecting tower cranes than with other types of equipment,” Bitton explained. “They’re also easier to get to the jobsite. They have axles underneath, so you can just pull them on the site. They’re silent, don’t produce exhaust fumes, and with their remote-control operation, they really increase visibility, safety and precision picking.”
The company began using Potain self-erecting cranes on a variety of jobsite applications, including framing, concrete work, masonry, roofing, landscaping, setting floor joists and windows, material handling and more. In effect, the company began to construct entire homes with an ever-growing fleet of Potain self-erecting cranes.
Bitton mentioned several other benefits over traditional machines, like telehandlers and forklifts. For example, Potain self-erecting cranes have a long reach and can make lifts across the entire jobsite from a single location without being moved. There are also gains in manpower. The same person can both rig the load and operate the crane, which also increases efficiency. In addition, the crane can reduce manual labor by helping perform other tasks, such as lifting and placing roofing materials and moving concrete buckets across the jobsite. Visibility and accuracy are improved with these cranes because the operator can position a load right in front of where they are standing.
The company now has 25 Potain units in its homebuilding fleet. Bitton said he finds their quality second-to-none. And over the last decade, he has had hardly any maintenance needs for the cranes.
Bitton realized he could influence homebuilding projects across his region and that self-erecting cranes could positively impact the market. He began renting his company’s fleet of Potain cranes to other construction companies under a new name, Rocky Mountain Crane, which is also in McCall. Rocky Mountain Crane became an authorized Potain dealer in 2018. Besides buying and selling cranes, the company offers training, support, maintenance and warranty work to the other homebuilders in the area.
“After I bought my second self-erecting tower crane, I figured I should be selling and renting them, too. I know a lot of companies have the same challenges that I had,” he explained.
“Now that word has spread about how much better this method of building is, and how much time and money it can save, I estimate there are now around 30 companies using self-erecting tower cranes on their jobsites in this region.”