According to specialist market research and forecasting company Off-Highway Research (OHR), the global truck crane segment has gravitated very firmly towards China in terms of both sales and production.
It says that in 2017, the last year for which full data was available, more than 20,000 truck cranes were manufactured in China. Production of truck cranes by all other OEMs around the world for the same year came to about 500 units, OHR reports, which is to say Chinese OEMS accounted for some 97 per cent of truck crane production.
OHR says that China is by far the largest truck crane market in the world. Sales in 2017 in China came to more than 18,000 units (or 90 per cent of production) and the only truck cranes sold in China are built in the country. So while China exports ‘only’ 10 per cent of its truck crane production, this accounts for around 80 per cent of demand for these machines in all other markets of the world, OHR states.
Exemplifying this export trend is Chinese construction machinery manufacturer Zoomlion, which has revamped its ZTC800V532 truck crane to specifically appeal to overseas markets. The latest version, the 4.0, has a 47m U-shaped main boom and is the result of what Zoomlion refers to as “intelligent manufacturing”. This, it says, means the crane offers increased lifting capacity and reduced energy use. The truck crane’s hydraulics provide a minimum rotation speed of 0.1 degree per second and a minimum stable lifting speed of 2.5 metres per minute. Zoomlion says the crane has an energy-saving system that operates at multiple power modes and that average fuel consumption has been reduced by 20 %, down to 4.5 litres per hour.
Zoomlion has also designed the crane’s cabs and operator information panel to be as ergonomic and safe as possible, thus maximising potential overseas appeal.
Zoomlion’s strategy looks to be working, with the company reporting it has exported its first ZTC800V532 4.0 truck crane to work on the Riyadh Metro project in Saudi Arabia. Zoomlion identifies Saudi Arabia as being a key strategic market in its oversea growth strategy, and claims its brand influence in the country is growing rapidly.
Although Chinese exporters dominate demand for truck cranes in emerging markets, OHR reports that they have so far failed to crack North America, the only major developed world truck crane market. Here traditional suppliers still hold sway.
Return to form
Given that the USA truck crane market is well established, it has seen a rise and fall in demand over time. Its current state, however, is buoyant – especially in the US boom truck niche, says Fred Ross, CEO at USA-based equipment sales and rental firm Custom Truck One Source. “[The market] is definitely coming back and we couldn’t be more excited… We truly believe the versatility of boom trucks on the job site and the road provides a superior return on investment for our customers. So, we are thrilled – but not surprised – to see its adoption come back in full swing across many of the core markets we serve.”
This sentiment is echoed by Beau Grassl, sales manager at USA-based crane sales and rental Giuffre Bros. Cranes. “Overall the market for boom trucks is on an upward trend, although I’d attribute this more to the fact that the industries we serve are in an upward trend more than any changes in the product,” he says.
Grassl described the Giuffre fleet as a healthy mix of both small- and mid-size rental units which are rented bare, and sale cranes from small to very large. “We do our best to keep a variety of different units, staying close to the core features that have helped our success over the last 55 years while continuing to evolve with the current market conditions and needs.”
Another company demonstrating commitment to serving fast changing market requirements is Canada-headquartered crane sales and support company Cropac Equipment. The company is expanding its boom truck crane fleet with seven new Crossover 8000s manufactured by Terex Cranes. The cranes will be available for rent from Cropac’s locations in Ontario, Québec and Alberta, Canada. “There has been a lot of positive momentum for the crane market over the last year,” explains Bill Finkle, president of Cropac. “We’ve seen higher demands across the board for the Terex cranes we carry. Our customers love the build quality, power and performance of the Crossover 8000, which is why we’ve placed this order.”
The Terex Crossover 8000 boom truck crane has a 38.4 m telescopic boom and a 72.4 tonne maximum lifting capacity. The unit has fully proportional controls designed to aid the operator define boundaries for boom rotation, lift and lower to ensure precise crane movements. The boom truck’s X-pattern outriggers are designed to offer maximum stability while still providing a small footprint.
Towards the end of 2018 Terex also received an order from Florida-based truck mounted crane sales and rental firm Hydraulic Machinery Inc for five of its boom truck cranes with capacities between 25 to 35 US tons (22.7 - 31.8 tonnes). The order comprises two Terex BT 5092s, two Terex RS 70100s and one Terex BT 70100.
In particular, it’s the versatility of truck cranes that keeps emerging as a key reason for their purchase. “These are versatile machines,” reiterates Stew LaPointe, rental co-ordinator at Milwaukee, USA-based Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental, a member of the All Family of Companies. In 2018, the company took delivery of six new Link-Belt truck cranes with capacities ranging from 60 tons to 100 tons. The order comprised: one HTC-8660; two HTC-8675 Series IIs; and three HTC-86100-XLs.
“As a full-service dealer of the Link-Belt brand, there’s no better way to showcase their power and flexibility than by making them available for rental across the deep reservoir of construction and contracting professionals throughout Wisconsin,” explains LaPointe. “This equipment can be used for everything from residential carpentry to all types of construction – setting structural iron, precast concrete, HVAC work. They will be highly in-demand by our customers.”
Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental bought six new Link-Belt truck cranes
Like the other companies highlighted earlier, Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental is committed to meeting current market requirements and has fostered a reputation for maintaining a crane fleet consisting of the latest model years. “We like to have the latest equipment in the rental fleet. Having six cranes come within a month and a half is something you don’t often see, but it demonstrates our commitment to staying current,” said LaPointe. “Our hope is that customers know they’re dealing with a company that’s dedicated to not only updating our fleet, but also employing the safest crane technology on the market today.”
The cranes have been distributed among Dawes’ locations in Milwaukee, Madison, and Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
Growth in the US truck crane sector has also been demonstrated by Illinois, USA-headquartered international provider of cranes and specialized industrial equipment Manitex International. At the end of 2018 the company announced the expansion of its boom truck and articulating crane distribution network to include Southwest Products, with its manufacturing headquarters in Surprise, Arizona. Brad Bjerke, vice president of Vehicle Division for Southwest Products commented “We at SWP are pleased to add the Manitex boom trucks and articulating cranes to our diverse selection of equipment. We look forward to our partnership in producing strong sales results and future success with Manitex products.”
To conclude, with demand back up in the USA and new markets being forged internationally, the future for the truck crane segment looks positive.
Tadano straight boom loader
In 2018 Japanese crane manufacturer Tadano launched its largest loader crane to date aimed, initially, at markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The TM-ZX1505 straight boom loader crane has a capacity of 15 tonnes at 2.0 metres and its maximum boom length is 18.5 m. Maximum load radius is 18.07 m and it reaches a maximum lifting height of approximately 20 m.
According to Tadano, the crane was developed in response to demand from the oil industry in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia for a crane with high work capabilities and a focus on safety.
It has a heptagonal (seven-sided) boom made of high tensile steel. This means it has high rigidity and resistance to lateral deflection, said Tadano. It has rear outriggers for greater stability.
The TM-ZX1505 comes with Tadano’s Automatic Moment Limiter (AML) to monitor crane work safety as standard. AML provides a ‘strength monitoring’ function, which prevents crane overloading, and a ‘stability monitoring’ function, which prevents the crane from falling over, Tadano outlined. Because the crane automatically detects the jack reaction force, a safe maximum working capacity is ensured while the vehicle’s stability changes with the loading and unloading of the truck bed, the company elaborated.
Other attributes of the crane include a digital operator display which shows actual and rated loads, a central control panel, a working height limiter, a ‘Hook-In’ system, which enables the hook block to be stowed by flicking a switch, and an anti-two-block device that prevents the boom and hook block from coming into contact with each other during winching.
An optional remote control, with a large screen and a power-saving colour LCD display, has a feature that enables speed adjustment to suit particular operations and an emergency stop switch, in addition to displaying actual load, rated load, and moment load ratio.
The new “load weight” function calculates and displays load weight during loading and unloading, enabling work progress and the load weight on the vehicle to be checked. This also prevents overloading, said Tadano. These features contribute to the safety of the crane while both working and travelling, said Tadano.
Tadano is also looking to promote its GT-750EL truck crane, along with other crane models and types, at the forthcoming Bauma show, to be held in Munich in April 2019. Tadano will run a bus from the showground to the factory in Lauf an der Pegnitz every day of the show except Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will have the opportunity to test the cranes.
Tandem lift for truck-mounted telescopic cranes
Wuppertal, Germany-headquartered crane rental firm Neeb used two of its 60 tonne capacity Liebherr LTF 1060-4.1 truck-mounted telescopic cranes for a tandem hoist of two old trains. The job was for WSW Mobil, the operating company behind the famous Wuppertal suspension railway.
The cranes lifted the trains off the rails and placed them onto a low loader before lifting them again, suspending them from a specially constructed frame built by Wuppertal company Knipex.