Tuesday’s crane felling

Felled a big Ash tree on Tuesday here in Basel with a Liebherr 110 ton MK.

Liebherr MK 110

I have known the tree for the past twenty years and was very sad to see it go, it was 170 years old and a very striking tree. However, it had Inonotus hispidus fungus on old pruning cuts, which is obviously not so great in Ash, so we used to manage the canopy to prevent it from getting too end-heavy. In recent years the property has changed hands and the focus moved aways from maintaining the trees in the park. Probably partly due to that, last weekend the tree dropped a 100cm diameter stem in the garden. The combination of a long lever arm with a lot of weight on the end combined with the stress from the lack of rain these past few months was the final straw that led to this failure.

The decision to go with a crane was pretty quickly taken due to the sheer volume of wood to be removed. I love working with the MKs, they are really fast to set up, as the ballast is incorporated into the chassis of the unit, therefore they are ready to go in about 15 minutes, also they are very maneuverable and you can actually get them in surprisingly tight spaces. This one has a 50m boom on it and can lift 1.8 tons at the outermost point. Where the tree was standing we had about a 6 ton lifting capacity. All pieces weighed in at between 1 and 4 tons, total weight removed was 30 tons with 22 lifts.

At three o’clock we had a big truck-based chipper come in to chip all the wood and were done by five.

Final pick, four tonnes!

On a job like this, everything comes together:

Communication, clear und concise descriptions of which team member does what, correct rigging and placement of chains in order to avoid shock-loading the crane, correct estimation and documentation of loads, creating a clear, uncluttered work site that facilitates correct procedures – and lots more. Quite a challenge one way and another. This is one of many moments that makes me realize and appreciate what a great group of people I have the privilege of working with.

So, all back home safe and sound.

Having said that, that evening, as I was sitting at home, buzzing and rather weary, I found myself reflecting upon how one bad call in a situation like that, one decision to cut a corner you maybe should not have, one time giving in to time pressure has the potential for you to get hurt very, very badly. Quite humbling, really – and a big reality check.

To me, this is a real life lesson: Ultimately, you make decisions and you will be held to those decisions. Bad decisions can lead to serious consequences. A day like last Tuesday illustrates this point in a very graphic fashion.