08 May 2008
Rising costs of steel and other raw materials forced many crane manufacturers to raise prices towards the end of last year, nonetheless, some record results have been posted for 2004. First half results for 2005 have also been good and many are optimistic for the growth to continue through this year to 2006.
Manitowoc and Palfinger reported +29% and +20.9% increases in sales for 2004, while Kobelco Cranes sales, in terms of units, for the 2004 fiscal year were up +32% on the previous year. Palfinger has also reported first quarter revenue growth of +33% for 2005. Looking forward to the rest of the year, Palfinger said that it expects to see double digit growth rates in both revenue and earning continue through 2005.
“The cranes segment continued to show strong revenue growth from its recent cyclical lows,” said Terex Cranes president Steve Filipov. “Our first half deliveries in 2005 were over +40% higher than in the same period last year.”
Linden Comansa is also confident that demand for new cranes will remain high as it has just invested € 20 million (US$ 24.7 million) a new factory in Huarte—Pamplona, Spain. Production at the 80000 m2 site started earlier this month and, according to Comasa, it will enable it to increase its production capacity from 600 units per year and improve productivity.
The Manitowoc Crane Group has also announced plans to increase its production capacity through a new manufacturing plant in Zhangjiagang in the Chinese province of Jiangsu. The company already builds Potain tower cranes in the city but production will be transferred to the new plant, which is due to open in early 2006. According to Manitowoc, the new factory is necessary to meet the growing demand for the group's products in the region.
The used crane sector is also continuing to expand, particularly in wheeled mobile and all terrain models, and the major manufacturers are cashing in by developing their own used sales operations. According to Grove's used sales division manager, John Cantle, the increased price and delivery times for new cranes mean that more and more crane users are now considering pre—owned equipment as a more viable option.
The crane rental market is much bigger than for other types of construction equipment due to the high unit cost and the specialist nature of some models. A recent survey by IC's sister magazine International Cranes and Specialized Transport suggests that 66% of rental companies are planning to grow their fleets during 2005 and only 9% are intending to downsize.
The expected growth in crane rental fleets is already being borne out with orders from the industry's biggest players.
Tower crane rental company Arcomet has followed up its order for 28 cranes from Potain and acquisition of Germany—based MVS Zeppelin's fleet of 300 tower cranes with the news that it is building up its presence in North America. Arcomet has formed a joint venture with Washington DC—based P&J Crane Systems which began trading, under the name of P&J Arcomet, in July.
Main contractor MT Hoggard is using a fleet of 12 Potain tower cranes to boost work on constructing a new concert hall in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.
Fitting a Mega—wing Lift attachment to US based Armstrong Crane &Rigging Corp's Grove GMK7550 enabled the company to lift and manoeuvre two 8.2 tonne air conditioning units onto the top of a 96 m tall building in central Minneapolis.
P&J Arcomet's current fleet of 30 tower cranes and six Arcomet—built self erecting cranes will be supplemented later this year with an order for five new 16 tonne Terex—Comedil CTT311s and eight 20 tonne Terex—Peiner SK415s.
The UK's largest mobile crane rental company Ainscough Crane Hire has just ordered a record 91 new cranes from Liebherr. Delivery of the 30 new 35 tonne LTM 1030—2.1, 38 new 55 tonne LTM 1055—3.1 and 23 new 95 tonne LTM 1095—5.1 cranes is expected to continue into 2006.
There have also been a few corporate changes in recent months among some of the smaller, but regionally significant, players.
Australian rental house Boom Logistics has just completed its 11th, 12th and 13th acquisitions in five year with the purchase of rival rental companies Cameron Cranes, Carrington Steel and Brambles Port Hedland Cranes. Boom is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, where it is one of the top performing construction companies.
In Europe, the Man Group has sold its crane sales and hire subsidiary Man Wolffkran to a private German—Swiss investment group, headed by Dr Peter Schiefer and Dr Ans—Peter Koller, for an undisclosed sum. The company will operate under the Wolffkran name and Dr Scheifer said, “We will be working with our clients to further develop the potential of new growth markets and innovative services for the construction industry.”
Installation of wind turbines is turning out to be big business for the mobile crane and ship crane rental sector. Generators of between 1.5 and 3 MW used to be common but many new ones now have ratings of 4 to 5 MW. These massive turbines weigh in at more than 200 tonnes and are mounted on masts over 100 m tall and lifting these into position is turning out to be quite a challenge.
Parts for one of the biggest turbines to be so far erected — a 5MW turbine for Repower in Germany — were lifted into position separately. German rental company Nolte used a Liebherr LG1750 to position the 18 tonne rotor blades, 170 tonne turbine unit and 142 tonnes of machinery deck components on top of the 120 m tower.
Offshore turbines are also proving to be popular and crane ship specialist A2Sea has just acquired a third ship for conversion to serve this growing market. Once completed the M/V Sea Installer will have a 1250 tonne capacity crane and be capable of carrying up to six 5 MW turbines in one go.
Product development in the cranes sector has always been rapid but with limited scope for significant lifting capacity improvements without impacting on transportation, many manufacturers have turned to refining existing models. Offering customers variations on existing models, such as different boom, counterweight and axle configurations, has become a trend with new launches.
New crawler cranes from Terex—Demag and Manitowoc have been announced this year.
The first of Terex—Demag's CC 5800 lattice boom crane will be built by the end of this year and will be commercially available within 12 months. The crane will have a maximum lifting capacity of 1000 tonnes, a maximum hook clearance of 200 m and widest working radius of 150 m. According to Terex—Demag, the model's main selling point will be its narrow transport width of just 3 m.
Manitowoc's 400 tonne Model 16000 crawler crane was launched at this year's ConExpo and fills the capacity gap between the 272 tonne Model 2250 and the 681 tonne Model 18000. The Model 16000 has a 30 m main boom and between 24 and 84 m of luffing jib can be added, using 6 and 12 m inserts, to give a maximum hook height of 132 m and capacity of 150 tonnes.
Both Liebherr and Hitachi Sumitomo have also recently added to their telescopic crawler crane ranges. Liebherr's 100 tonne capacity LTR 1100 is only the second of its type ever built by the company and will use the upper from the LTM 1100 all terrain crane and the crawler chassis from the LR 1100. The six section boom will telescope from 11.5 to 52 m and options include a 10.8 to 19 m hydraulically luffing double swing away, and special 2.9 m short assembly jib and second winch for two hook operation.
Hitachi Sumitomo has just sold the first of its new 40 tonne SCX400T telescopic crawler cranes to the Dunne Group in Scotland. The model has a 32 m maximum four section boom sourced from Link—Belt's rough terrain series.
Liebherr has also released details about two new all terrain (AT) cranes. The four axle 70 tonne LTM 1070—4.1 features a telescopic jib length of 50 m, offering a lift height that is 20% greater than it predecessor.
Liebherr's other new AT, the five axle LTM 1095—5.1, has a 58 m telescopic jib and can be extended to 62 m using a jib extension. The company is also expected to launch the 200 tonne LTM 1200—5.1 AT crane later this year and the five axle model will feature a 72 m boom, which, according to the manufacturer, is something customers are requesting.
Terex—Demag's latest launch is the 160 tonne AC 160—2, which is an upgrade of the popular AC 160—1. New features include a 64 m boom — 1 m longer than the AC160—1 — which can be extended to 96 m and electro—hydraulic rear axle steering.
The ATF 65G—4 was launched by Tadano Faun in July as a replacement for its ATF 60—4. The company said that the crane had undergone a substantial redesign and now features a 44 m boom length and improved capacity from the new one cylinder boom system.
Link—Belt has expanded its AT line with the 180 tonne capacity ATC—3200, which features a 59 m six section boom.
Attachments include a 5 to 13 m two piece lattice fly and up to four 5.8 m lattice extensions to give a maximum tip height of 100 m.
Grove has just announced that it will be adding the 220 tonne GMK5220 to it AT range by the end of the year, following on from the successful launch of the 130 tonne GMK5130—1 (CMK5165 in the US) at ConExpo in March. The five axle GMK5220 will be able to handle loads of up to 13 tonnes at its maximum boom point of 68 m and radius of 24 m. The seven section boom will also be able to be extended using a 12 to 21 m bi—fold swing away jib which can accommodate up to two 8 m inserts, giving a maximum possible tip height of 105 m.
South Korea's Hankook Tower Crane has recently launched its first luffing jib tower crane. The 1250HKL is something of a departure for the company which has only previously produced saddle jib cranes.
The 1250HKL has a 12 tonne maximum capacity and can lift 3 tonnes at the tip of its 50 m jib. The maximum tower height with this jib configuration is 45.8 m but rigged with a 28 m jib, the height can be increased to 54.1 m.
Potain, which has just celebrated delivery of its 100000th tower crane, has expanded its tower crane offering in the US. According to the company, the three Topless ‘City’ crane models are easy to set up and a large amount of the set up can be carried out from ground level. The MDT 98, MDT 128 and MDT 178 offer maximum capacities of between 6 and 8 tonnes and can reach under hook heights of up to 67 m.
Linden Comansa has extended its 2100 Series of tower cranes with the addition of the 21LC550 which has a maximum capacity of 18 tonne and can lift 4 tonnes on an 80 m jib. The new crane can be used with all Linden Comansa masts which gives it a freestanding height of up to 64.9 m.
Liebherr introduced two new tower cranes at Samoter in May. The new 32 H is based on the hydraulic set up principle and is the top of the line model in the company's H crane series. The new 42 K.1 fast erecting crane has been improved by re—designing the erecting kinematics, set—up handling and jib set—up.
Construction of the Fuyang Power Plant near the Zhoupeng Township in Anhui Province, China is being aided through the use of a 750 tonne capacity Manitowoc Model 18000 crawler crane. Anhui Electric Power Corporation (AEPC), working for the Anhui Fuyang Hengyuan Power Generating Company (HYGC), specified the Model 18000 for the project. Before starting work on the contract AEPC rigged the Model 18000 with 106 m of main boom and 39.6 m of luffing jib for its work on the Anhui site.
The crane has been used to erect a variety of heavy components on the first of two 600 MW units, including structural beams, turbines, and coal buckets. The heaviest lift involved setting the 250 tonne rotary section of the turbine, which measured 10 m long and 4 m in diameter.
On the heavy lift crane front, Mammoet has just introduced its third PTC (platform twinrig containerised) crane. Testing of the crane included a 2000 tonne lift on the 67 m long main boom at a radius of 17.1 m and lifts using the main boom and lattice jib configurations up to 200 m overall height.
Like Mammoet's other PTCs, the ringer has an outer diameter of21.5 m with 24 hydraulic cylinder distributed evenly around it and can be fitted into standard 88 standard containers for transport.
The last 18 months have been good for the crane market in terms of both new and used sales but most manufacturers expect the growth looks to continue through this year. Stabilisation of steel and other raw material prices and the strengthening of the US dollar against the Euro are also helping to boost confidence in the industry. Many new or refined machines have already been launched this year but full details of one of the biggest — a new 1000 tonne crawler crane from Liebherr — are yet to be released.