The cranes market is in full swing
Industrial, crawler and telescopic cranes are expected to a see a surge in demand with the spurt in infrastructure development projects
Growth in infrastructure has tremendous benefits on several industries. It changes the entire scenario for the equipment industry, not to forget the hundreds of ancillary industries. One such industry that has been languishing for some time now is the industrial, crawler and telescopic cranes sector. With demand slowing in the heavy lift applications, mainly in industrial applications, the market has been seeing a lull. But this has not deterred the crane manufacturers. They know that the spurt in infrastructure projects will help them bounce back – at least in the medium capacity lift applications.
Geographically, telescopic crawlers (crawler-tracked extendable-boom cranes) are perhaps most closely associated with the Far East and the USA, where their use has been most widespread. Benefits of shorter set up times, ease of transport, and variability of the boom system, however, means their popularity is growing fast in other global regions.
“Tower cranes are the modern balanced cranes that consist of various basic parts. The high lifting capacity and height of tower cranes enable them to be used in construction of tall structures. A modern tower crane consists of three main sections, which include base, the tower mast and the slewing unit. The most important features of the tower cranes are safety, reliability and user-friendliness. Tower crane rentals are available in different capacities depending on the requirement of the end-users,” says Arun Bishnoi, director, sales, Zoomlion Electromech.
According to a report, the Asia-Pacific crawler crane market is witnessing a high adoption in the construction and mining sectors and is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 5% from 2018 to 2024. The escalating infrastructure development projects in countries including India will favour the crawler crane market growth. Rental market is a major growth driver for crawler cranes in India. However, the current market scenario is stagnant for crawler cranes due to various reasons of slowdown in rental market due to low rental rates, slowdown in wind power sector which is considered as the major user of higher capacity crawler cranes, and the popularity of tyre-mounted cranes in heavy lift projects.
Demand or no demand, crane manufacturers are expected to come up with new models and innovations every so often. That is the thumb rule for equipment makers. For instance, Escorts Construction Equipment has lined up ambitious plans in terms of revenue on the back of increased momentum in the infrastructure sector. Ajay Mandahr, CEO, Escorts Construction, says that the company is also coming out with new generation cranes that will available in the market any time now. “We have identified three segments: Material Handling segment-Cranes, Earth moving equipment and excavators where we are expanding now. All our equipment are related to infrastructure so our focus is to work on that,” he added.
Considering that about 100km of rural roads are being developed along with expansions of existing 5400km of National Highways, the company plans to invest so as to meet the increased demand of new emission norms. The construction equipment is expected to adopt BS-IV complaint vehicles by 2020, however, the company will skip the BS-IV and directly move to BS-VI.
In terms of crawler cranes, Action Construction Equipment has the 40T and the 75T crane in its product portfolio which it intends to take up to 160T in the near future. Manoj Agarwal, CGM, marketing & product support, ACE, says, “Our crawler cranes are new generation hydraulic machines capable of lifting heavy loads in restricted areas with enhanced safety features & hydraulically extendable/retractable tracks enabling ease in transportation and usage. We offer customers options like the standard machine for lifting & erection jobs or with features of single/double line free fall for usage in the piling activity.”
ACE competes with multinationals in diverse product segments. These products require a lot of R&D and world-class manufacturing practices using automation and robotic technologies. “Our product development and manufacturing skills come from our world-class R&D centre in Faridabad which is approved by DSIR. We work continuously towards developing new products, upgrading existing technologies and adapting to global standards. Our state-of-the-art production facilities equipped with latest technological advancements helps us in manufacturing our products available at a cost-effective price range.”
The company uses boom assembly made out of high strength steel with optimised shape that drastically reduces its self-weight yet enhances the lifting capability of the machine.
Early this year, Konecranes and Demag, two world leading brands in material handling industry announced that they will now be operating under one company name, Konecranes and Demag Private Limited. This name change follows acquisition of Material Handling & Port Solutions (MHPS) segment from Terex Corporation by Konecranes PLC in 2016. The acquisition led to some of the leading global brands such as Demag, Gottwald and Noell getting added to Konecranes product portfolio. This has enabled the company to consolidate its market leadership by providing a broader range of products, a greater focus on R&D and cover a greater number of markets worldwide. Suhas Baxi, MD, Konecranes and Demag, said, “It is our strong belief that both our brands offer distinct value proposition for customers. It will continue to be marketed as independent product brands and will ease the method of doing business with our customers. Going forward, we will offer both Konecranes and Demag branded products through this common legal entity. It will enable us to compete better in the Indian market place with wider product and services offering with a range of leading brands creating value for our customers.”
Increasing utilisation of crawler cranes in the energy sector is anticipated to drive market growth. These machines offer heavy lifting operations at the nuclear and renewable energy sites and facilitate the operators in handling the materials efficiently. Several manufacturers have developed energy sector-specific machines that witness a high demand. For instance, Manitowoc has launched a wind power crane, Grove GTK1100, which is used for wind turbine operations such as erection and construction.
Economic growth across the globe, especially in China, India, and Southeast Asian markets, has led to better infrastructure demand. Growing building and construction spending due to a rise in per capita disposable income along with enhanced infrastructure in Asia Pacific and Latin America will drive the crawler crane market.
High maintenance costs and initial investments are the major factors hindering the crawler crane market development. The high cost is discouraging several business manufacturers and OEMs from deploying high-end machines. Companies consider that investments for automated equipment must meet the global quality and manufacturing standards. In addition, the cranes are available on lease from the manufacturers at a lower price than the newer machines. Instead of procuring a new equipment, several customers commonly prefer renting equipment, which is anticipated to hamper the market.
More or less the crawler crane design has evolved. Over the period of time, crawler cranes have become lighter, transport-friendly (maximum individual component weight reduced by great extent) and with a lot of electronics and computer controls. The safety features are enhanced considerably. End-users prefer hydraulic crawler cranes over mechanical cranes. But mechanical cranes are equally in demand where free fall operation is a must as they are more efficient than hydraulic crawler cranes.