The tallest aerial platform in North America is currently stationed within the local wind farm region — south of Sweetwater on Highway 70 at FM 608, west towards Maryneal. Abilene High Lift Aerial have brought their Steiger TTS 1000 platform to lift up technicians to inspect and repair the blades on the wind turbines.
With the conditions sometimes proving to be blustery, no other machine in the world is able to operate in winds of around 35 mph (16 m/s) at such an enormous height. The Steiger TTS 1000 solely boasts a lateral reach of 131 feet and is unmatched in stability and height in North America, standing at 328 feet.
The machine is powered by a Mack Granite Series truck purchased from TransEdge Truck Centers and manufactured by Mack Trucks of Allentown, PA. The aerial work platform was manufactured by Ruthmann Gmbh & Co. KG Company in Germany.
Steve Roth, the president of Abilene High Lift Aerial, said that the company originated as an idea to access and paint the wind turbines. As a result, a discovery of large aerial platforms in Europe was made. Roth and Darrell Shortes, vice president, investigated for about a year and made a couple visits to Germany to see the platforms.
After that time, the purchase of the Steiger TTS 1000 platform was made. Along with the purchase came the challenge of importing such a large and unique machine to the US, which the company received in August 2010.
The next month, in mid-September, the Steiger platform began work at the Panther Creek Wind Farm in Big Spring. Roth stated that by being in the center of the West Texas wind industry, it made sense for High Lift Aerial to come to the area. In addition, both Roth and Shortes are natives to the region.
However, High Lift Aerial also works out of state, just recently returning from work at a GE wind farm in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The company currently employs two qualified operators of the machine along with a third backup.
But as the company moves forward, the future of Abilene High Lift Aerial looks promising with the potential of making an expansion through multiple machines.
"We are very close partners and friends with our incredible manufacturer Ruthmann," Roth said in an email statement. "We are working to begin production of a second machine."
Furthermore, Roth stated that the company is always looking for alternative uses to broaden their services. "We are capable of working on many different things requiring high lift access including inspection of bridges, buildings, monuments and communication towers." He noted that the company consistently talks with people who are interested in the capabilities offered by High Lift Aerial.
The Steiger platform is scheduled to stay in the Roscoe area for a short time, but Roth says that he hopes the company will remain in the area for a long time. High Life Aerial intends to work in both the Roscoe and Big Spring areas as time allows, but contractual obligations keep the company in Big Spring for the rest of the year.