The availability of a 10-tonne front axle rating on a 44 tonne GCW 6×4 tractor unit clinched the deal that saw Manchester based Norton’s Hiab Services put the 30-year old firm’s first ever Volvo truck, an FH-540, into service.

Norton’s Hiab Services moves a wide variety of self-escorted, wide loads, nationwide, from wind turbines to machinery as well as site accommodation and welfare cabins, for the largest PLC construction companies.

The FH’s fully stabilised and ballasted specification, which includes an additional pair of hydraulically operated stabiliser legs, mounted on a ‘NATO beam’ extension to the front of the chassis, means that it can be used both as a versatile crane truck, able to work with its specialised 17.7 metre Dennison extending trailer, or solo, as a replacement for the lightweight crane carriers that are often used to service city centre construction sites. To do this, the truck is equipped with a 62-tonne / metre Hiab XS 622 EP-6 HiPro crane.

According to Norton’s Hiab Services Paul Eddisford, the fitment of the front of chassis extension and the additional stabiliser legs, means that the FH can slew 360 degrees and has the ability to lift and crane 5 tonne at 10 metres, over the cab and over the rear of the chassis.

“Although we operate at 44 tonnes GCW, rather than under STGO regulations, we had a specific need for a truck with a 10-tonne front axle rating,” explains Paul Eddisford. “Only Volvo were able to supply a tractor unit, that wasn’t a specialist heavy haulage vehicle, with a 10-tonne front axle to assist in the ability to achieve the lifting capabilities via the front stabilising legs, working over the front of the cab.”

“In response to our customers’ requirements for a crane truck that can work solo on tight access sites, particularly those in city centres, London especially, we needed the 10-tonne axle to enable us to operate the tractor unit as a lightweight solo crane carrier that can provide a bespoke, niche service when we are required to deliver in confined spaces.” He added. “We also provide a full ‘turnkey’ service to customers where we will not only deliver, but also build the site accommodation for them. The high capacity of the Hiab crane on the new Volvo, with its 15.4 metre reach will make it a major addition to our fleet of 27 trucks.”

The Hiab crane on the Volvo FH is mounted on a full length chassis frame mounted cradle. The chassis itself also contains a full length insert to aid rigidity. As the truck is fitted with a sliding fifth wheel which is mounted on a cradle which sits on top of the Hiab crane cradle, coupling height is 1450mm. The chassis is ballasted with steel plate, which is welded to the Hiab frame for its full length behind the crane. In addition, a massive steel ballast box is fitted to the rear of the chassis beyond the end of frame taper. Chassis packaging of air, fuel and AdBlue tanks has been carefully engineered by Volvo Trucks to accommodate the crane and the ballast box. A factory fitted Volvo locker box for tools and chains is mounted on the nearside and is one of the many features of the neat chassis packaging arrangement. Careful positioning of the ‘NATO beam’ has ensured that the AEBS radar is unimpeded and works as normal. The FH is ADR registered for when it delivers bunded fuel tanks to sites.

Remote operation of the crane is made possible via Hiab’s ruggedised Space 5000 remote control hand held terminal which, among other things, displays percentage loadings of the crane at all outreach stages.

Norton’s Hiab Services, who are FORS Bronze accredited, are self-sufficient in operation, says Paul Eddisford, as they have their own tyre company, Norton Tyres, as well as their own support vehicles and 24/7 roadside recovery capability (more information can be found at: ). The truck was supplied by Thomas Hardie Commercials at Trafford Park, who will be carrying out the maintenance under a Volvo R&M contract.