It Takes a Big Crane to Build Huge Fabs

World’s most powerful conventional crawler crane set to start work at Intel’s Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Arizona.

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  • July 7, 2022

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​Workers on Intel’s Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Arizona, complete assembly of Buckner HeavyLift Cranes’ Liebherr LR 13000 crawler crane. It will be used to lift into place the steel trusses for superstructures of Intel’s Fab 52 and Fab 62. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

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To propel Intel’s global manufacturing buildout — the biggest investments in company history — Intel has brought to Arizona what its maker calls the world’s most powerful conventional crawler crane. Think 3,000 tons of lifting capacity — the weight of about 428 large adult male elephants. Think a maximum hoisting height of 774 feet — more than twice the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty.

The monster machine is Buckner HeavyLift Cranes’ Liebherr Model LR 13000, which has been assembled and tested, and is now ready for work at Intel’s Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Arizona. The LR 13000 with its twin diesel engines — so even if one fails at an inopportune time, a second one is still chugging away — will soon begin hefting skyward the first of 36 steel trusses to create the superstructure for Intel’s new Fab 52. Each roof truss weighs at least 150 tons (or 21 of those elephants).

The $30 million LR 13000 helping Intel in Ocotillo is one of only six on Earth. After it was manufactured in Germany, it was broken down and transported on a dedicated ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean and passed through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles, then loaded aboard 170 flatbed trucks for the journey east to Arizona. Assembling all the parts took about a month.

Once the heavy lifts are complete for Fab 52, the LR 13000 will crawl over to the nearby Fab 62 site to begin working there. Topping out at 1.3 km/hour, it moves at a fraction of a normal adult’s walking speed.

Intel’s new twin Arizona fabs, a roughly $20 billion total investment, are scheduled to start chip production in 2024.

At Chandler Traditional Academy, less than a mile from the LR 13000, children can see the crane through their classroom windows. The school recently held a “Name the Crane” contest, with the winning third-grader dubbing the big machine “Skyreacher.”

When Intel is through with Skyreacher, the yellow and red behemoth will be taken apart, put back on flatbeds and sent off — to parts still unknown — for its next mega construction job.

More: Intel Breaks Ground in Arizona (Press Kit) | Intel Arizona: Our United States Manufacturing Powerhouse (Al Thompson blog)