International Tower Crane Conference 2012, Berlin

International Tower Crane Conference 2012, Berlin

The second International Tower Cranes conference tackled a range of topical issues last week at the Kempinski Hotel Bristol in Berlin, Germany.

More than 150 industry professionals from around the world attended the one-day conference and networking event organised by International Cranes and Specialized Transport magazine, a KHL publication.

Speakers delved into the current and future health of the global tower crane market and discussed the challenges facing major rental companies.

Chris Sleight, editor of IC's sister publication International Construction, said world construction would grow by 4% in 2012, mainly thanks to emerging markets. Sleight added, however, that greater growth has been held back by the debt crisis in Europe, where the market is facing a 0.4% overall decline in 2012. Looking to the future, he said that global urbanisation, leading to 75% of the population living in cities by 2050, would provide great potential for the tower crane industry.

Dennis Bates, vice president of AmQuip tower crane division, in the USA, said tower crane rental in the country had turned a corner and is seeing growth, but there are still problems to be faced. "Looking forward, It will be slow when it comes to purchasing new products, due to an uncertain future. We are recovering but not as fast as we would like."

Duncan Salt, director and general manager at UK-based HTC plant, provided a similar, although slightly gloomier, view of the UK market. There are about 1,000 top slewing tower cranes in the UK, some 33% less than four years ago. But utilisation stands at 55 to 60% and rental rates are at 2005 levels, Salt said.

Safety played a central role at the conference. Peter Schiefer, Wolffkran owner and CEO, spoke of the need to define industry standards in the European tower crane market.

Francesco Valente, Terex tower cranes technical product manager, talked about the need to observe and understand the risks associated with wind.

China was also on the agenda with talks from Xiaofeng Zhang, assistant general manager, Hongji Rental Co. Ltd., and Huang Qun, general manager, Zoomlion.

In all there were 16 speakers at the conference, which was followed by a networking evening reception.

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