Auto Crane is celebrating a milestone. It has been 55 years since the company’s invention of the original field service crane, and with it, the birth of a new industry.
When entrepreneurs Claire Simmons and Carl White designed a small crane that could literally fit in the trunk of an automobile, in 1958, they immediately solved a back-breaking problem experienced by oil-field service technicians who previously had no other means to hoist heavy drill bits but on their backs, according to the company’s parent, Ramsey Industries. But inventing a crane that was easily transportable also introduced the concept of mobile service to lift and repair heavy equipment in remote areas.
Auto Crane’s first client was Hughes Tools, headed by none other than billionaire Howard Hughes. In the rich Texas oil fields, Auto Crane service cranes were put to work and quickly became a staple of the industry. With mobile crane service now a reality, drilling operations no longer experienced expensive downtime waiting for off-site repairs, and service technicians could repair equipment faster and safer without the manual labor of lifting heavy drilling components.
“Looking back, Auto Crane truly revolutionized the way service work was being done at the time,” said John Celoni, president and chief executive officer of Ramsey Industries, Inc. “If you think about it, we essentially brought the workshop to the site where techs were then able to work on the equipment right then and there, eliminating the downtime and cost associated with transporting the equipment to an off-site repair shop.”
Over the decades, Auto Crane continued to expand and innovate its product line with “back-saving” service cranes that addressed both safety and operational problems in the energy, mining and construction industries, according to Ramsey Industries. Among these were the first electric cable crane in the 1970s that offered unprecedented lifting capacities for even bigger equipment. In the 1980s, Auto Crane designed the first fully hydraulic line of service cranes that increased productivity with fully hydraulic hoists, boom extensions and power rotation. In the 1990s, the company introduced the first electric over hydraulic service crane, which gave operators more versatility than ever.
In 2003, Auto Crane’s passion for inventing and innovating mobile service cranes took a new turn. This time, all eyes focused on the trucks that transported the crane to its service areas. Service technicians needed a specialized truck body designed specifically to disperse heavy loads and torsion of heavy lifting. They also needed a durable solution with compartments for work tools and ancillary equipment to make time-efficient repairs. Auto Crane soon unveiled its patented Titan crane body — another industry first, according to the company.
With safety always at the forefront of its product line innovations, Auto Crane took a fresh look at minimizing and eliminating common control problems experienced by crane operators. With technology as its guide, Auto Crane created in 2010 the patented NexStar crane control system for its hydraulic cranes.
“Throughout the years, Auto Crane has always taken the approach that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and we’ve proven that with our NexStar System,” Celoni says. “NexStar truly eliminates the guesswork that once came with what operators could and could not lift due to the weight of the load, the angle of their boom, or the angle of their chassis.”
Since then, Auto Crane continues to engineer and enhance the safest cranes and most robust crane bodies in the industry. The company expanded its NexStar crane control system to its electric over hydraulic cranes, making them the safest and best performing EH cranes in the world. With the release of the new Titan in 2013, Auto Crane once again improves performance and agility of its truck body while reducing weight for additional payload, according to the company.
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