Cranes: Standing tall
Cranes are ubiquitous what with India marching ahead with infrastructure and development
Cranes - a familiar sight today as countries around the world go on a building spree. Different kinds of cranes dot the sky as projects get more advanced and complex. Some of the cranes often spotted at construction sites are crawler, telescopic, boom, overhead, loader, tower, etc. However, for some time now most of the cranes have been lying idle due to the Covid-19 pandemic that brought most parts of the world to a halt.
While that may be so now, crane manufacturers in the past have come up with some innovative designs and technology to match up to modern projects. Anil Bhatia, VP, sales & marketing, TIL, says, “With projects getting larger and more complicated, project management should ensure risk engineering and project controls along with safety, speed, energy efficiency, remote access to monitor machine performance and a coordinated approach to project completion. To this end, right machines and skilled resource are the two basic pillars that make a huge difference.”
Plans don’t stay
The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely put every plan in disarray. As per a report (OHR), the lockdown is expected to see the industry lose production of more than 8,000 units of construction equipment – that amounts to 10% of the number of machines produced in 2019.
VG Sakthikumar, MD, Schwing Stetter India; member of governing council, ICEMA; and chairman of mechanisation committee, BAI, says, “March turnover was not as per plans due to sudden lockdown of factories, construction activities in India. April was completely at a standstill and the extended lockdown is likely to hit the May turnover also. The economic hardship has affected right from the daily wage workers to corporate companies, small businesses, MSMEs and practically every commercial establishment. As the construction equipment (CE) sector is affected since 2019 dues to issues like reduced demand, NBFC problem, automotive slowdown (BS4 – BS6 issues), etc., this sudden lockdown has further added to our woes.”
It is difficult to predict when the virus will be contained. The recovery is majorly based on this, even though the demand in the market is quite promising. However, there are rampant fears of customers cancelling orders placed earlier on.
Prashant Suryawanshi, MD, Manitowoc Cranes Potain India, says, “At Manitowoc India, we are fortunate that none of our customers cancelled their orders during the lockdown period. But, like other companies, we expect to see additional headwinds in Q2 and Q3 as we transition out of the lockdown and into the new normal.”
Their factories are officially producing again, including the Chakan plant, which restarted on May 6.
Determined to do best
Moving with the times, companies are also compelled to introduce novel machines. They are required to adhere to global safety standards, comply with environmental and pollution regulations as well as incorporate energy saving features. Bhatia says, “From the equipment/fleet owner’s point of view, keeping track and controlling the assets is most important and it is here that smart technologies are getting smarter. Our Hyster-TIL ReachStackers incorporate state-of-the-art safety features, which employ onboard machine diagnostics and telemetry. The latter plays a vital role in significantly improving all aspects of fleet management – machine productivity, total cost of operations, operator performance and safety – by way of wireless asset management. The optimal design of power-packs and drivelines of all our Truck Cranes, from 30 to 80MT capacity- is an example of our endeavor to extract the last ounce of power from the engines.”
Speaking about his machines, Suryawanshi says, “Topless cranes are becoming the go-to solution for projects utilizing precast concrete, which is an increasingly popular choice for the speed and simplicity it brings to jobsites. Maximum capacity for the Potain MCT 205 is 10 t while at its 65 m jib end it can still handle an impressive 1.75 t. The crane’s modern design makes it quick to erect, with the heaviest group of components weighing just 7.9 t, while the full 65 m jib can be placed in a single lift. As for the largest topless crane from Potain’s Asia Range, the MCT 565 offers a 25 t maximum load and jib length configurations from 30 m to 80 m in 5 m increments. At its 80 m jib end, it can handle an impressive 4 t. Despite its increased size, the new model stays true to the design characteristics of Potain topless cranes, with easy transport and erection combining with excellent on-site performance.”
Similarly, Schwing Stetter India sells and services Schwing-XCMG tower, truck, crawler and all terrain cranes in India. Sakthikumar says, “Our newly launched XCMG’s new S series tower cranes are more safe, reliable, advanced intelligent and efficient. 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. XCMG tower cranes can give super plus technology which can increase lifting capacity by 8~15% by reducing hoisting speed.”
In terms of engineering improvisations, XCMG truck crane boom design features U shaped boom sections with higher steel grades while being light in weight to meet load requirements. Patented telescoping technology controls boom extension and retraction sequences for smoother operation of telescopic boom. Schwing Stetter India offers XCMG crawler cranes, truck cranes and all terrain cranes in India. In tyre mounted cranes segment, we offer cranes from 25 tonne to 1600 tonne cranes comprising of truck cranes, all terrain cranes and rough terrain cranes. Tyre mounted cranes are popular due to high mobility, lesser cost of transport and lesser assembly time.
Pricing and emissions
The crane business has become very competitive. However, customers are able to appreciate quality and features of the machine and are ready to pay when they are able to speed up the project progress. Most of the rental companies charge if they are able to deliver the job fast. It is important to understand the end user’s requirement to build in the features in the crane accordingly.
Suryawanshi says, “We focus on RoI for our customers and we offer cranes that can do more and are more reliable. We follow The Manitowoc Way, a set of lean principles that drives innovation and velocity in every aspect of the business. The Manitowoc Way is more than a mantra. We work every single day to generate real gains. Investments into our innovation pipeline are producing a new generation of innovative mobile cranes. We’re also revamping several other parts of the company to ensure Manitowoc remains a stable and agile company for decades to come. We’re listening closely to what our dealers and customers need out of their cranes, and then we incorporate that into the design process.”
Bhatia says, “TIL has always followed the tenet of Value vs Price. While our prices are competitive, we do not believe that slashing price to beat competition is the answer to customer relationships. Rather, our endeavor is always to add value to the machines through features that enhances performance and safety, and reduces total cost of operations. We train our sales and support team to sell value not product, so that our customers can understand how much the machines will help them achieve, in the short and the long term.”
Regarding the new BS-IV CEV emission norms, diesel engine manufacturers are not yet ready to offer engines as per BSIV CEV norms. “Interestingly, the emission norms of BS-IV CEV is similar to BS-VI auto engines and this needs similar after-treatment process of the exhaust gases. The automotive industry just moved into BS-VI during the lockdown period. Significant amount of engine development work was ongoing for the automotive sector when the lockdown started and this knocked off plans for the development of BS-IV CEV engines since they also make engines for CEV’s,” says Bhatia.
It is very challenging for many of the CEV manufacturers to meet the current timeline of October 2020 to migrate to BS-IV CEV norms as most of the CEV manufacturers depend on engine manufacturers for the delivery of the type tested engine (type testing by ARAI and other testing agencies for compliance of emission norms) and then the new CEV has to be approved by ARAI. Hence CE makers have requested ICEMA to defer the cut-off period for transitioning to BS-IV CEV.