The Sky’s The Limit

By Laurel Henning07 September 2011

Thibaut Le Besnerais, Potain's vice president of sales in used cranes, rental and special application cranes, Jean-Pierre Zaffiro, Potain's global director for tower cranes and Nabil Al Zahlawi, head of NFT Cranes and Potain's dealer in Abu Dhabi, all agree that the height limit of high rise buildings will not be reached as a result of restrictions in the technology of the cranes building them. But the equipment is often challenged as the scale of high rise projects increases.

All three say luffing jib cranes are the most frequent choice for high rise projects. Luffing jibs allow the best visibility - operators get a view of the entire building site from the cab with very few blind spots. Mr Zaffino highlighted Potain's new MDT 560 40 tonne capacity crane, which includes new high speed winches capable of lifting speeds of 170 m/min. Mr Zaffino predicted that these winches "will become increasingly popular in the future as the market focuses on speed and efficiency." Mr Le Besnerais agreed, "This is what contractors are looking for. At heights of over 250 m, speed is key. Increasing from five cycles per hour to seven will increase productivity by up to +25%."

Mr Al Zahlawi was clear that above 100 m, internal climbing is recommended. "With a small radius you can cover the whole building, saving in the mast section which is economically valuable and you can finish the façade without any disturbance to the external climbing."

But Mr Zaffiro warned of the threat of counterfeit parts, particularly on high rise crane work. If a counterfeit part is discovered on a crane after it has been erected for a high rise project, the time taken to dismantle the machine in order to remove this part has a severe economic impact. In addition, the use of such parts can result in cracking in the structure of the building. He said Potain is now tracking all the masts they are produce to tackle the problem.
Despite these challenges, both Mr Zaffiro and Mr Le Besnerais see growth in the high rise market, particularly in China, Indonesia and India.

Mr Al Zahlawi concluded by describing the changing approach in Dubai to high rise construction - a business model which he said was a fashion that was now moving to East Asia, Russia and the CIS. "The Dubai business model has moved elsewhere. We are building more horizontally, which we have the space to do, in contrast with places such as Hong Kong."

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