Tower cranes are developing the country's infrastructure
Tower cranes come in several types to cater to the new and emerging kinds of residential and infrastructure projects
They stand majestically and most of the time silent in the sky. Towering hundreds of feet above ground, tower cranes are a ubiquitous element in cities, mainly metros. Of course, one can find them at remote locations too where industrial and infrastructure projects are coming up such as factories, dams, power plants, etc. It’s not always residential, though that would comprise a larger majority where they find employment.
However, though the residential sector has been subdued for some time now, tower cranes have found utility in infrastructure projects. Prashant Suryawanshi, MD, tower cranes, India & subcontinent, Manitowoc Cranes, says, “Infrastructure sector is a key driver for the Indian economy. The Indian government is expected to invest highly in the infrastructure sector, mainly in highways, renewable energy and urban transport. The government has introduced various schemes like “Housing for all by 2022” and “affordable housing schemes” to further boost the sector and to attract more investment. Due to the increased investment in infrastructure, we expect demand for tower canes to also increase.”
With pre-cast construction technique taking a leap, builders and developers are the major demand drivers of tower cranes in India. Mayank Pundir, country head, tower cranes, Action Construction Equipment (ACE), says, “The ACE 12T & 16T tower cranes are the first choice under pre-cast segment such as affordable housing projects under PMAY as well as industrial projects for both RCC work, steel fabrication, and erection work. They are also used in various infrastructure projects like flyovers, bridges, Metros, etc. and at yards for safe and proper handling of precast elements.”
He stresses that their Tower Crane Rentals is India’s largest rental company with a fleet size of more than 150 tower cranes. These cranes are used for residential and commercial projects, civil construction, high-rises, power plants, chemical and cement plants, metro construction, bridges and flyovers, dams, among others.
Krishna Kumar, divisional head, tower cranes, Liebherr India, says, “We have specific features for versatile projects. Like the high hook heights for high-rises. Fast working speeds in combination with safety and reliability are perfect for lifting of pre-cast elements for high-rises. For the hoist gear, the fine positioning mode allows precise positioning of the loads, while for high lifting heights, the lifting drums are equipped with a large storage capacity for the lifting rope.”
The Indian tower crane market stood at 650 units in 2018 and the market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 16% by 2024. Tower cranes are equipped with advanced technology, provide ease of lifting heavy construction materials to large heights and require minimum time and effort. All these factors are fueling the demand for tower cranes across India.
According to TechSCI Research, tower cranes can be segmented based on product type, lifting capacity, design, region, application and company. In terms of product type, flat top tower crane accounts for the largest share and the trend is expected to continue in the forthcoming years due to its ease of usage during construction of high-rises and large bridges. Based on lifting capacity, cranes having lifting capacity up to 6 tonnes captured the major share in 2018. While others segment which includes lifting capacity range of 7 tonnes to 20 tonnes and 21 to 50 tonnes are poised to grow at a high rate during the forecast period, on account of increasing demand for high-rises and rapid growth of infrastructure. Among applications, tower cranes are majorly used in construction purposes.
VG Sakthikumar, MD, Schwing Stetter India; Member of governing council, ICEMA; Chairman of Mechanisation Committee, BAI, says, “Schwing-XCMG’s new S series tower cranes are more safe, reliable, advanced intelligent & efficient. S stands for safe, smart, strong & selected. We offer complete range of tower cranes such as Hammer head tower crane (5 tonnes to 25 tonnes) [50m jib to 80m jib]; flat top tower crane (5 tonnes to 63 tonnes) [50m jib to 80m jib]; and Luffing jib tower crane (6 tonnes to 125 tonnes) [40m jib to 70m jib].”
Few examples of special crane applications are in precast wherein a 25-tonne capacity tower crane is being used in Hyderabad and for tunnel formwork 12-tonnes capacity tower crane in Mumbai, internal climbing 5-tonnes flat top tower crane is in use for 210m high-rise residential project in Mulund, Mumbai & internal climbing 10-tonnes tower crane for 150m high-rise residential project in Thane, Mumbai, he adds.
Suryawanshi also cites some prominent places where their cranes were used. “Some examples where our cranes were used were Potain cranes MR295, MC205 and Igo50 for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue; three Potain MR 160C cranes to build Lodha World One; Potain cranes MD 610 and MC465 for Bangalore Embassy; and more than 300 Manitowoc cranes are working on the Reliance Petroleum Jamnagar refinery in Gujarat.”
Bringing in change
Considering that demand for a particular type of tower crane would vary from project to project, how can the owner see consistent RoI? Kumar says, “The modular design means that top-slewing cranes from Liebherr can adjust to any specific requirement. We offer customers rapid erection and bespoke solutions.”
Liebherr offers the following:
*Extreme hoisting heights: Tower cranes are also suitable for use on very high buildings. Our customers benefit from enormous hoisting heights and hoist speeds
*High handling capacities: Customers around the world rely on our top-slewing cranes for major building projects. The intelligent high-performance drive units ensure high handling capacities and thus enhance efficiency
*Bespoke configuration: The modular design means that top-slewing cranes from Liebherr can adjust to any specific requirement. We offer customers rapid erection and bespoke solutions.
Speaking about flexibility, Sakthikumar says, “Schwing-XCMG tower cranes has load adaptive control system (patented technology) in which the control system automatically identifies the weight value of the load and intelligently controls the lifting speed, heavy load with low speed, light load with high speed, high efficiency and energy saving. The cranes have super plus technology which can increase lifting capacity by 8-15% by reducing hoisting speed.”
One of the special applications is to use variable frequency drive mechanism in Schwing-XCMG tower cranes. It is introduced to lessen the electrical consumption. A variable-frequency drive VFD is a type of adjustable-speed drive used in electro-mechanical drive systems to control AC motor speed and torque by varying motor input frequency and voltage. Customer requirements have made them provide unique solution like in making the minimum jib radius to be 25m. In some application, customers have given them customised design of mast section for taking the highest load in the respective radius.
Explaining about design change, Pundir of ACE says, “Depending upon infrastructural projects, design of cranes have evolved over the past few years. Change in lift shaft size as per lift size; due to height restrictions at real-estate projects near airports, flat top tower cranes have been introduced; higher capacity tower cranes for pre-cast & steel structures; anemometers to check wind speed while working on skyscrapers; dynamic braking system to avoid free fall of loads during hoisting; anti-collision device to avoid accidents where two or more tower cranes are working in proximity; AC cabin for operator comfort; and cabin modification with motorized wipers to cater the weather uncertainty and better insulation to avoid heating up of cabins.”
Similarly, Manitowoc launched Potain MCT325 to expand on the popular MCT range of topless cranes. Suryawanshi says, “It has become the go-to solution for projects utilising precast concrete. The Potain range of topless cranes are popular in India because they are designed to deliver easier transport and assembly, plus high efficiency and reliability on construction projects. Topless cranes bring speed and simplicity to projects thanks to their design which allows multiple units to overlap on site.”
Available in two versions, the MCT 325 offers jib length configurations from 40m up to an impressive 75m, in increments of 5m. At its 75m jib end, the MCT 325 can handle 2.5t for the 12t version and 2.3t for the 16t version, making it one of the best-in-class performers for long-distance lifting. The new model stays true to the design characteristics of Potain topless cranes, with easy transport and erection combined with excellent on-site performance. On a well-prepared site, the MCT 325 can be setup within 1.5 days, with the complete jib and counter-jib erected in four lifts. The MCT 325 will ultimately replace the MC 310 model, a long-serving and popular hammerhead top-slewing crane with a proven history of customer satisfaction.