The rise of the superboom is upon us but not all manufacturers are choosing to play ball. AI reports

By Euan Youdale02 July 2013

One of many applications suitable for the Terex AWP Genie SX-180

One of many applications suitable for the Terex AWP Genie SX-180

The rise of the superboom is upon us but not all manufacturers are choosing to play ball. AI reports

The main attraction at bauma was the launch of Terex AWP’s Genie SX-180, and at 54.9 m (180 ft) you couldn’t miss its presence in a showground littered with booms of various descriptions.

“This is a technological leap; this is a real advancement that the industry has not seen,” said Ron DeFeo, Terex chairman and chief executive officer. “The market is trending towards big booms and these machines will eat into the truck-mount market.”

By this he means that common truck crane applications like wind turbine projects will be real opportunities for big booms, along with a range of other energy-related work, commercial construction, industrial construction and maintenance. When asked if the SX-180 is the first in a new series of superbooms, Mr Defeo was hesitant to make a firm commitment, but didn’t deny that it is a firm possibility.

UK-based Kimberly Group was among the first buyers, confirming it had ordered two of the machines. Kimberly chairman Ray Ledger said they would be the first to enter the European market, with delivery likely in the third quarter of this year. Fellow UK rental company Facelift Access was also a buyer at bauma.

The machine, which is designed to be driven at full height, shares the drive chassis first used earlier this year on the ZX-135 but with its own boom design, including a 3 m jib. The boom uses 100000 psi steel rather than the 80000 psi material used on smaller machines. The maximum horizontal reach of 24.4 m (80 ft) stays at around that mark until a height of about 35 m, and the platform has a capacity of 340 kg (750 lb). Terex has managed to keep the weight under the 25 tonne mark, the width to under 2.5 m and the height, at around 3 m, similar to the other Genie Superbooms.

Scott Krieger, Terex AWP senior product manager, booms and telehandlers, told AI that this will make it transportable without a special permit in most US states and countries, although there will be exceptions.The design of the pivoting axles on the drive chassis is what has allowed both the stability of the machine at great heights – the spread at full axle extension is 5 m - and its narrow transport width. The X-design axles look similar to those used on smaller machines in the Genie line-up, but the geometry is different, with the axles pointing inwards when fully retracted, which helps reduce the overall length.

Stiff competition

The SX-180 will cost around US$650000, which is a lot, but less than an equivalent height truck mount. “Customers believe they can make money, absolutely”, says Mr Krieger, “It is by a large margin, 20%, the world’s largest self-propelled boom. We have a lot of people standing in a line for the machine.”

The SX-180 on show in Munich was a prototype but close to the final thing. Sales will start in the second half of this year.

The SX-180 eclipses JLG’s two 150 ft booms, the 1500SJ telescopic model and the veteran 150HAX.

JLG, hitherto the leader in the big boom segment said earlier this year that it aimed to maintain its ‘leadership’ in that segment. And since bauma Karel Huijser, JLG general manager and vice president EAME access equipment, told AI that it will add another superboom to its range.

“Later this year we will announce an expansion to our Ultra Boom range. We will unveil more details soon and expect to takerders at the upcoming ConExpo show, with shipments of the new model in 2014.”

One can only presume that the new JLG machine will top the Ultra Boom range and compete directly with the SX-180.

Other companies are not so keen to join the scrum. Haulotte has no intentions of, “playing that game”. The company’s largest boom at present is the near 132 ft telescopic HB 135 JRT. Alexandre Saubot, Haullote Group’s chief operating officer, said the company will not enter the big boom market in the short term. “It’s still a very small market,” Saubot said while speaking during a press conference at Bauma. “The weight of the machine is very high. [Manufacturers] are playing with ‘Who has the biggest?’ and I’m happy for them but I have other priorities at the moment.”

Darren Kell, chief executive of Snorkel’s parent company Tanfield, agrees. Snorkel’s largest boom to date is the telescopic, 125 ft T126J. “[The big boom market is] a fairly finite market in size,” said Mr Kell, “There is a bit of a pyramid here in terms of volume and scale. We’re not ruling it out but it’s not a top priority.”

High volume

Both companies are, instead, focusing their attentions higher volume machines.

In this respect, Haulotte has been active in the boom sector with its new HT23 RTJ and HT21 RT models. The 22.5 m working height HT23 was shown at Intermat last year, with the HT21 following on earlier this year. Both were shown at bauma. The 20.6 m working height model is basically the same as its bigger brother, but without a fly jib. Horizontal outtreach is 15.9 m for the HT21 RT, and 18.3 m for HT23 RTJ.

A significant feature of the pair is the lifting speed; it takes 56 seconds to reach full height, increasing productivity two-fold in this product segment, says the company. There is a steering selector with 3 positions: two-wheel, four wheel and crab mode. In four wheel steer the models have the best turning radius in their class, claims Haulotte. Applications include construction work, shipbuilding, chemical and petrochemical and aviation.

In North America, the manufacturer will also start producing a 4WS version of its HT 67 RTJ in May at its Archbold, Ohio, US plant. In addition, Haulotte will re-launch its 61-foot boom in 2WS and 4WS versions and is slated to start producing the units in August in Ohio, as well. “We are manufacturing them in North America for the North American customer,” the company told AI. The HT 67 RTJ features 73 feet, 5 inches of working height and a maximum outreach of 60 feet. Total lift capacity is 500 pounds and the unit has 40% gradeability.

Snorkel was getting in on the act at bauma too. German rental major Beyer Mietservice placed an order for 20 A38E battery powered self propelled booms on the last day of the. According to the manufacturer the deal followed extensive negotiations over the course of the exhibition. As Bauma came to a close on Sunday, CEO Dieter Beyer came back to the stand to confirm the order. According to Snorkel, Beyer was impressed with the low weight of the A38E compared to its working envelope. With a 100% electric boom, the machine is designed to be simple to use and reliable. TheA38Es will join a number of Snorkel S1930E compact electric scissor lifts already in the Beyer fleet.

Expansions

Italy-based Platform Basket used bauma as a launch pad into bigger boom production, specifically the medium-high platform sector with a 33 m working height model. The compact self-propelled, double articulated 33.15 model has a lateral outreach of 15 m and a cage capacity of 230 kg, plus a hybrid option.

“We have been dedicating our time and all the resources we have to create a sales network and to gain credibility worldwide; therefore we feel ready to enter and develop the medium-high tracked aerial platform sector,” said Carlo Molesini, Platform Basket managing and sales director. The 33.15 is powered by a Kubota diesel engine and a back-up 12 volt powerpack. The hybrid 33.15 ED version has the Kubota engine and deep-cycle 24 volt battery.

Italian manufacturer Socage is also developing into this area with the launch of a new 28 m double articulated platform. The new Forste 28D is mounted on a 3.5 tonne chassis, a new record for the company. The previous 28 m model, DA328, is mounted on a 5.6 tonne truck. The Forste 28D is able to reach 28 m working height, while SWL is 300 kg and maximum outreach is 14 m. It also has electro-hydraulic controls. The new 3.5 tonne truck design means that anyone with a driving license can hire it, and it is practicalities like this that are driving modern boom design.

Another example comes with Skyjack’s 63-foot rough terrain SJ 63AJ, now in production. The unit was introduced as a prototype at the 2012 Rental Show in New Orleans. Production units were on display at this year’s Rental Show in Las Vegas. “Key to the design of the 63 AJ was a base weight of 21,200 pounds, allowing two machines to be shipped on a standard 53-foot flatbed, even with some of the typical options ordered, such as foam-filled tires and welder-ready packages,” the company said.

The SJ 63AJ has a platform height of 63 feet, 7 inches and an up-and-over clearance of 27 feet, 2 inches. The unit also features 40 feet of horizontal reach. The new boom can be powered by either a dual fuel or diesel engine and shares common powertrain, hydraulic and electrical components. It has a Dana axle and 4-wheel drive.

China on show

A notable development at bauma was an increase in Chinese manufacturers. This was the first time Dingli, Mantall and JHC, a new manufacturer from the country, has shown at bauma.

Dingli was showing a new articulated, self-propelled boom, the 16 m working height GTB216A. It was launched in January for the China market but now it has been CE Marked and Dingli is looking to begin export. The unit on the stand has been sold to Turkey-based rental company Fatih Vinc. The company said Chinese manufacturers could now provide high quality products at a lower price level, however it did say that residual value was difficult to calculate because the products had not been in the market for long enough.

Fellow Chinese manufacturer Sinoboom also has serious intentions. It opened a new factory in Changsha in late April. Once in full production, Sinoboom says it will produce 3000 scissors and 2000 articulated and telescopic booms annually - significantly more than the 300 units manufactured in 2012. Turnover could reach RMB800 million each year, added the company.

The new factory will cover about 200,000 square metres. So far, one third, or 66,000 square metres of the facility, has been completed. The other two thirds are due to be completed in the next 4 to 5 years. Sinoboom was founded in 2008. Its turnover in 2012 was RMB120million, with exports contributing 65% of total revenue.

While manufacturers in China are looking out, their counterparts in the west are looking in. Both JLG and Terex AWP are making simplified products in their Chinese factories for the local market and other developing countries. The JLG 18 and 24 m 18RS and 24RS are booms with basic specifications and lighter weights than JLG’s equivalent 600 Series and 800 Series booms made in the US. “They have everything you need, and nothing you don’t,” said Jeff Ford, JLG global product director. Both models have fixed axles, 360 degree rotation (not continuous), 4WD/2WS and a single 230 kg cage capacity. No jibs are available with the booms.

Meanwhile, Terex AWP has launched the first of a new range of low-cost aerial platforms designed and built in China and targeted at emerging markets. The first two models in the ‘Skysafe by Genie’ range are the 12 m V1200 telescopic boom and the PS500 electric powered, push-around scissor lift.

The two models were designed and built at Terex AWP’s Changzhou facility in China and will be targeted at emerging markets in China, wider Asia, India, Latin America and the Middle East, with some possibilities to sell the scissor lift in developed markets as well. The powered access sector in China could be looking at a huge boom in activity as safety regulations change. As part of the country’s 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015), the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has set a target of reducing scaffold use by more than 50%, according to the China Academy of Building Research.

It said scaffolding collapses and falls from height are the cause of 62% of all work-related accidents in China. A spokesman for Terex said it expected the AWP market to grow 25% to 50% annualy in the years up to 2015, driven by growth in the equipment and rental sector in the country and by Chinese government drives to improve worker safety, of which the scaffolding replacement programme is one of a number of examples.

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