Power for the Rhön area.

Unimog-assisted installation of overhead cables.

The loading crane holds the new electricity pylon steady until the cable winches align it perfectly in position. Then the concrete mixer can pour its contents into the two-metre pit. Once the concrete has set, the support cables can be removed and the mast can be left to its task of carrying the three 20,000-volt medium tension cables.

It may all sound straightforward enough but this type of installation is difficult – and often takes place in challenging environments. At stake: the electricity supply for 92,000 people in the Rhön Mountains. The electric utility company responsible for delivering it is Überlandwerk Rhön GmbH. “We deliver power from one town to the next,” says Andreas Hartung succinctly. He is one of 205 employees celebrating the centenary year of this company based in Mellrichstadt. There is another anniversary at the company as well: 50 years of Unimog trucks in the vehicle fleet.

Fantastic team: loading crane and Unimog.

The highlight of the vehicle is a Hiab loading crane: it can rotate 360 degrees and set down loads up to twelve metres away. “This makes pylon installation considerably easier, especially if we have to work at the front over the cab,” fleet manager Andreas Hartung confirms. “We installed a heavy-duty cable winch on the front mounting plate. This is mainly intended for recovering the Unimog if the tyre pressure control system itself isn’t enough to cope with the terrain,” Hartung explains.

Overhead line construction and network maintenance with Netze BW.

He says the winch can deliver 5.5 tonnes of power. The steel cable is 120 metres long. “That’s enough to get us through the Rhön region.” The long 3.60 m wheelbase gives the Unimog added stability, especially when using the crane. The platform is mounted only rarely. Instead, the rear of the vehicle is equipped with a cross-shaped brace. This takes the weight of the wide, heavy end of the mas

Real all-rounders - the two Unimog U 430 from Überlandwerk Rhön.

The upper section is supported on a trailer up to 15 metres in length. The power line and network construction at Überlandwerk Rhön is in fact carried out by two U 430 vehicles. Another almost identical Unimog arrived at Mellrichstadt the year before. This one is fitted with a large bridge and an underfloor cable winch at the rear. The numerous hand-finished stainless steel stowage boxes under the bridge are a real eye-catcher. “Every square centimetre has been put to good use so that we can carry our tools and installation equipment safely.” “The power and versatility of the two implement carriers is im- pressive,” says fleet manager Andreas Hartung. “We also use both vehicles as towing vehicles to pull trailers, for example for a cable reel or a mini-digger.”

The power and versatility of the two implement carriers is im- pressive. We also use both vehicles as towing vehicles to pull trailers, for example for a cable reel or a mini-digger.

Andreas Hartung, Fleet Manager, Überlandwerk Rhön GmbH

From Mellrichstadt in Lower Franconia they head across the state border into Hesse, to Tann and Hilders. The two Unimog vehicles also go to Thuringia on a regular basis to maintain the power infrastructure for Überlandwerk customers. And when there is no requirement for power line installation anywhere in the 1100-square-kilometre area they cover, there is always maintenance work to be done – clearing vegetation, felling trees, chipping and shredding. One Unimog always tows its own shredder. Unimog teamwork at its best.

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