Skyline lifters

18 March 2008

One of the most popular job applications for the Tadano Faun ATF 220G-5 is the fixing of wind turbin

One of the most popular job applications for the Tadano Faun ATF 220G-5 is the fixing of wind turbines said the company.

The international crane market is experiencing growth and buoyancy, which is a remarkable turnaround for an industry that was suffering a painful recession just four or five years ago. However, the lack of manufacturing capacity and a shortage of components are still sources of frustration for manufacturers, rental companies and contractors alike.

Jos Verhulst, the sales and marketing manager for Kobelco Cranes in Europe, said delays due to high demand are inevitable. He added demand for Kobelco cranes is high on all continents, especially in those regions with high oil and gas reserves.

Steve Filipov, president of Terex Cranes, summed up the situation for many manufacturers by saying, “Our customers need our products right away and we continue to struggle with the limited supply of certain components. We are working diligently to eliminate the production bottleneck at our various locations and to better utilise the space we have.”

Waiting times for cranes from Tadano could be anything between one year to 18 months, depending on the model, Koichi Tadano, Tadano president and CEO said. He added that the company would try to reduce the wait to three to six months.

Mobiles

Most of the major manufacturers have launched significant new machines this year and many of them are in the mobile segment.

Visitors to this year's Bauma exhibition were able to see the most powerful telescopic mobile crane ever built on the Liebherr stand. With a lift capacity of 1200 tonnes, the nine-axle LTM 12000-9.1 is head and shoulders above any other crane of its type. At 100 m its telescopic boom is also the biggest of its kind ever to be built. The maximum hook height is 170 m with the biggest boom and jib combination. the crane will also be available in a short boom configuration with three of the seven telescopic sections removed for a 55 m boom.

Other manufacturers besides Liebherr have developed similar machines. Terex-Demag is currently working on a prototype of its 1000 tonne capacity, nine-axle AC 1000/9 telescopic mobile, which is expected to available in 2008. According to the company, the crane will have a load moment of around 3000 tonne-metres, and the maximum hook height will be 126 m. Further down the weight categories, is Tadano Faun's new ATF 360G-6, which at 360 tonnes is the largest mobile crane it has ever built. Smaller still, from Tadano Faun, is the new 90 tonne AFT 90G-4, a 90 tonne capacity all-terrain on four axles.

There is an obvious trend in the market for cranes getting bigger, but there is also demand from rental companies and contractors for machines to be made more compact. This is perhaps best illustrated in the 100 tonne capacity mobile crane sector, where the latest models come on four axle carriers, rather than five.

The first in the market with this type of machine is Liebherr's LTM 110-4.1 offering a maximum lift height of 84 m.

In the all terrain sector it used to be that 40 and 50 tonne capacity models were the most popular, but here the focus has shifted to the 80 to 120 tonne range on four and five axles. Michael Preikschas, product manager at Manitowoc's Grove subsidiary, said almost 50% of all terrains sold are in the 100 tonne capacity range. According to Preikschas, Grove has a 15% share of the all terrain market, which places it in second place behind Liebherr, which has more than 40%.

Beringer said the whole range is selling well but the 100 tonne segment is particularly popular.

“These 100 tonners have the load capacity to do a lot of different jobs, and they have long booms. Nevertheless they are still compact cranes, which can drive even in narrow construction sites. And the 100 tonne five axle machines can carry a big portion of counterweight within the legal axle loads,” he said.

At Terex Demag, Christian Schorr-Golsong agrees that the 100 tonne range is a very popular section of the market. He added, however, that high capacity models in the 200 tonne range are also popular with sales picking up as rental companies demand extra lifting options.

New from Terex Demag is the 100 tonne capacity AC 100/4, which, the manufacturer said, has the strongest load chart in its class when configured with maximum counterweight. Underlying the need for manoeuvrability, the crane is just 2.55 m wide, even on large tyres.

In the last 12 months Grove has introduced a number of four and five axle all-terrain mobile cranes between 90 and 130 tonnes, including the GMK4100, GMK4100-L, GMK5095 and GMK5130-2.

The GMK4100 and GMK4100-L are similar, with the latter, launched at Bauma, offering a longer boom option at 60 m instead of 52 m. the crane's seven-section main boom telescopes to full height in less than nine minutes and with the addition of a jib, tip height can be extended to 83 m. Another new Grove in the 100 tonne class launched at Bauma is the GMK5095, a five axle all-terrain crane. With its 60 m boom, it is well suited to applications that require lifts over 50 m, the manufacturer said.

A further new five-axle Grove all-terrain mobile crane on show at Bauma was an updated version of the 130 tonne model-the GMK5130-2, which has improved load charts.

Crawlers

Substantial growth has been a feature of the crawler crane market as a whole worldwide in the past three years. End users and rental companies have been waiting for the best time to re-invest in new machinery. the demand in recent times has been for crawlers above 300 tonne capacity-a trend that is expected by manufacturers to continue for the next few years. In response to increasing demand Liebherr has completed a new manufacturing hall for crawler models of more than 300 tonnes capacity at its Ehingen plant in Germany.

Driving the worldwide demand for larger crawlers is wind power generation, petrochemical expansion and renewal projects. For these types of jobs crawlers with lifting capacities of 1000 tonnes and higher are in demand, according to Terex Demag.

At the top of Liebherr's range is the 1350 tonne (initially projected as a 1250 tonne) capacity LR 11350. This offers a main boom of up to 114 m, with up to another 114 m of luffing jib for a maximum hook height of 223 m.

Another significant new heavy lifter is Kobelco's 550 tonne capacity SL6000, the first two units of which have been sold to Weldex, a UK-based rental company. the cranes will be working on a wind turbine project in the build up to the construction of a trial off-shore wind farm, being built on a working North Sea oilrig. Available in three configurations, the maximum boom and luffing jib configurations gives the SL6000 a 170 m hook height.

New from USA-based manufacturer Manitowoc are the 600 tonne capacity (750 tonnes with its Max-er attachment) model 18000 and the 16000, which is making a name for itself in the power generation market.

Further down the weight categories Hitachi Sumitomo's 275 tonne capacity SCX2800-2 lattice boom crawler crane was exhibited at Bauma. Also on show, were the SCX800HD-2 and SCX2800-2 lattice crawler cranes, with capacities of 80 and 275 tonnes respectively.

Also at Bauma Manitowoc introduced its model 14000, which offers 86 m of main boom, and a luffing jib that can take the hook height up to 114 m. Link-Belt also has a comparable new model in the shape of the 298 HSL, with a 230 US ton (208 tonnes) lifting capacity.

Outlook

The recent surge of new machines in the global crane market has occurred on the back of a buoyant construction market. On the positive side this boom in the industry has encouraged manufacturers to invest heavily in research and development.

Meanwhile, the problem of long waiting times continues to frustrate both crane buyers and users. However, this should be overcome as production capacities increase for both manufacturers and the component suppliers they rely on.

Latest News
How is the quarrying and mining sector embracing change?
Mining and quarrying have long been, in most aspects, ahead of construction regarding the use of new technology
Mammoet starts assembling 6,000 tonne crane
New SK6000 ring crane starts to come together in the Netherlands for the first time
Bechtel ramps up recruitment drive for Rio Grande LNG export facility mega project
Bechtel is opening a Craft Professional Recruitment Centre in Texas to hire workers for the Rio Grande LNG plant