Cranes in Jordan
By Laura Hatton08 October 2013
Jordan is a small country with a population of only 6 million. The number of cranes in the country is around 200 units. The biggest hydraulic wheeled crane is a 220 tonne capacity Liebherr LTM 1220-5.2.
The available fleet just few years ago was too old but, in the last two or three years, there has been a dramatic change, also in the thinking of crane owners. The main reason for this was the arrival of new foreign investors that required high standards and modern cranes.
Importing a used crane from Europe, for example, an 80 tonne Liebherr LTM 1080 that cost €300,000.00, meant you had to pay something like €75,000 in customs duty. We can say that these are colossal amounts for a poor country like Jordan but crane owners had no option.
Older cranes were being operated without load indicators or with defective ones. Technicians who could fix a malfunctioning LMI were unavailable in the country.
I started my business with Grove cranes. I loved the Grove because I spent a long time working as a plant engineer in the Gulf area and most of the fleet was Grove cranes. In 1979 I spent a month training at the Shady Grove factory in the USA. Grove cranes are rigid and reliable but then they had short booms. This led me to get Kato that offered longer booms and were also very simple and reliable.
We operate a fleet of 14 cranes at Yousef Mousa Crane Hire that range from 25 to 80 tonnes capacity. All are mobile cranes, other than one Liebherr tower crane and three Hiab loader cranes. The 80 tonner I added last year to our fleet is an all terrain Tadano Faun ATF 80-4. A primary reason for choosing it was that it has Mercedes engines both for the crane and carrier.
In Jordan a Mercedes engine is very popular because, wherever you go, you can find all the parts you might need. In addition, there are plenty of used engines imported from Germany at reasonable prices. It is sometimes better to install a second hand unit, with original parts, than to repair an engine with parts that you don’t their origin.
In Jordan you can find modern cranes such as Liebherr’s LTM 1090, 1080, 1060 and Tadano’s ATF 50, 60 and 80 tonners. As I mentioned before, the main difficulty is with the technicians and, sometimes, we have to get help from Germany.
In 2012 I agreed to import the first crane into the country from Chinese manufacturer Zoomlion. I agreed to import a 25 tonne truck crane. In addition to an attractive price, the crane has a 39 metre boom, LMI and air conditioning. With such a long boom we could do the work that was done before by 50 or 60 tonne cranes costing twice the price. We had a few surprises too. Inspecting the crane on arrival at our yard showed some loose drive shafts and engine mountings. Later we faced some unexpected hydraulic troubles.
Also in 2012 we agreed with German crane manufacturer Sennebogen to promote its cranes and material handling products in Jordan. We have worked hard on this but the market in Jordan is not very healthy in the field of brand new equipment. Most people invest in second hand cranes because they are easier to fund. Brand new equipment is better in many respects but, sometimes, we can find second hand cranes in Europe that are almost like new and for sale at half the price of a new crane.
My son Amer, who grew up with cranes, graduated as a mechanical engineer. He worked in Qatar for five years on one of the biggest LNG plants in the world. In that project, there were more than 300 cranes, and there Amer built his experience.
Now Amer is working with me and we have big plans. The first and most urgent is to build a modern training centre for crane operators and riggers. There is big demand now for skilled operators and riggers. Already, we are running training courses for different projects, and during the last year, we ran 12 such courses. For a country like Jordan this is a big number.
The training centre we plan is to be accredited by well known associations, for example, LEEA and IPAF, where we are a member. We are also a member of the USA-based SC&RA where last year I attended the association’s annual conference in Austin, Texas. Although it was an expensive trip for me, it is the way to build contacts and friendship and to gain more experience.
In addition to the crane rental business, we offer testing and inspection for cranes and operators. We also do the tests for a big number of our power stations on their overhead cranes. For this we have the test loads for big overheads because we use the counter weight slabs from hydraulic cranes. We travel to various locations in Jordan and we do the majority of crane tests in Jordan.
In 2012 we carried out the following tests:
1. Cranes - 196
2. Lifting gear - 351
3. Man basket - 111
4. Manlift - 29
5. Cradles - 16
6. Riggers - 132
7. Crane operators - 189
For a country like Jordan these are big numbers. Looking back a few years people knew nothing about crane testing and inspection.