High Above the Ground
The dip in real estate is allowing tower cranes to flourish in the infrastructure segment.
BY TEAM CW
Tower cranes have ubiquitous across skylines in most major cities. In fact, they are a common fixture at any major construction site. They’re pretty hard to miss as they rise hundreds of feet into the air, and can reach out just as far. At construction sites, the crew uses them to lift steel, concrete, large tools – like acetylene torches and generators, and a wide variety of other building materials.
ACE makes self-erecting and fixed tower cranes up to 16 tonnes capacity in India.
Developers and site workers consider them as miraculous tools of efficiency, allowing for construction work at extreme heights. In many cases, during the construction of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, a tower crane actually paves its own sky-bound path: as it creates higher levels of a building above itself, the crane is elevated to the newly constructed higher levels via a hydraulic cylinder at its base. This continues until the tower crane reaches the building’s peak, where it constructs smaller derricks that disassemble it so it can return to the ground.
Over the last few years, with the advent of technology, the tower cranes is back in demand. VG Sakthikumar, MD, Schwing Stetter Sales & Services; Convener for Membership committee, ICEMA; and Chairman of Mechanization committee, BAI, says, “After a long gap of nearly 2-3 years, the tower crane market is again gearing up due to RERA implications in real estate and new affordable projects. This is also due to a rise in major government projects like bridges, metro projects, smart cities, etc. A number of specialised applications brings bigger capacity tower cranes again in demand.”
A number of specialised applications brings bigger capacity tower cranes again in demand.
The growth is also seen in both developed and emerging markets, although Asia-Pacific, with its large number of emerging markets, is leading the growth. Europe is the second largest market.
One of India’s largest crane manufacturers, Action Construction Equipment (ACE) makes self-erecting and fixed tower cranes up to 16 tonnes capacity in India. Sorab Agarwal, whole time director, ACE, says, “ACE Tower Cranes are of square section type construction to provide better structural strength and stability. VFD is provided as standard feature in 360o slew motion to avoid jerks and to provide soft start and soft stop for the crane jib during slew motion. The tower cranes are fitted with all possible safety devices. Optionally, ACE also provides Safe Load Indication device (SLI) to suit customer requirements. Air-conditioned ergonomically designed operator cabin is also provided as standard fitment.”
Arun Bishnoi, director, sales, Zoomlion Electromech, says, “Our Flat Top tower crane Model T7020-10 E is a 4th generation development which is designed as per JOST technology standards of Germany. The special features of this cranes are free standing height of 61m, Jib length of 70m, and tip load of 2 tonnes. Standard design can achieve the height up to 220m and special design can achieve more because of its robust structure. The crane is equipped with all safety features for hoisting, trolleying and slewing having VFDs in all motions for precise placement of the material. Other safety features are availability of anti-collision device is available in option if jobsite requires the same. All such features are never offered in this category by anyone in our country in this segment of the cranes.”
Higher free standing heights give a good leverage in working at jobsites and reduces the anchorage cost for customers.
Tower cranes are also used extensively in infrastructure projects. For instance, infra projects like cable stayed bridges and precast projects see a strong increase in demand for bigger capacity cranes (10 tonnes and above). Apart from this, there is a shift of customer preference in the market from Hammer head cranes to more of flat top cranes.
More often than not, the high cost of cranes also sees a demand in the rental market, which has become key in this sector. Crane rental companies provide equipment that has the latest technological advances and safety requirements – something that should not be overlooked. Sakthikumar says that a stark rise in affordable housing and smart city projects by the Central Government (Pradhanmantri Awaas Yojna and Mukhyamantri Awaas Yojna) will mean an increase in the sales of tower crane. Big corporates like L&T, Shapoorji, and Tata Projects have begun to take cranes on rentals instead of procurement of new capital equipment.
Crane can be offered in both external as well internal climbing as per the project requirements. XCMG has introduced a complete range of Flat Top cranes from 5 tonne to 100 tonne capacity. In precast technology, 3D precast moulds are gearing up in India for which XCMG offers 40 tonne and 63 tonne efficient and safe tower cranes with additional options option of stationary and traveling chassis. “This will assist customers by offering them a benefit of frequent shifting in horizontal projects. During Bauma China, XCMG also introduced the New S Series tower cranes from 6 tonne to 63 tonne which are safe, smart and stronger,” adds Sakthikumar.
Tower Crane XGTT200 II (6022-10) working at Anantya project, Chembur.
With respect to Tier 2 and 3 markets, the demand for tower cranes has definitely shown positive traction over the last 2-3 years and as a matter of fact around 50% of tower cranes sales in the recent past have been contributed by smaller cities as the Tier 1 cities are still struggling with real estate slow down and excessive/unfinished inventory, says Agarwal.
“At ACE, we have been supplying customised tower cranes for various infrastructure projects like river bridge projects, power plants, steel plants, dams and also cable-stayed bridges. “These machines have specific free standing heights, overall heights and load requirements. In some cases, there is also special foundation requirement like erection in flowing water. Our in-house R&D centre provides comprehensive solutions to our customers with special requirements,” adds Agarwal.
There are advantages in using them in precast projects too. “These projects reduce the cost by 10-15% and is gaining momentum. “The Flat Top tower crane Model T7020-10 E is suitable for smaller size precast elements. Higher free standing heights give a good leverage in working at jobsites and reduces the anchorage cost for customers. Erection and dismantling of the flat top crane is also easier in comparison to the traditional hammer head cranes. We supply these cranes to different industries like real estate, Infrastructure, steel, power, cement, etc. Having the mast sections in split type, they are easy and economical to transport them from one site to other,” says Bishnoi.
Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Co., Ltd has opened the world’s largest intelligent factory for tower cranes in China, marking a new milestone for Zoomlion in the realm of intelligent manufacturing. Taking three years to construct, the Factory is the central feature of Zoomlion’s goal to meet Germany’s Industry 4.0 standards. Boasting 12 automatic production lines, over 10,000 sensors, 100 industrial robots, 35 unmanned RGV and AVGs as well as 16 sets of CNC machining centres, it is the most advanced, efficient and environmentally-friendly intelligent tower crane factory in the world and features integrated IM control, IM production line, intelligent logistics and intelligent sensors. The new Factory will allow Zoomlion to reach a new stage in the tower crane industry by integrating talent, capital, technology and information from both upstream and downstream along the industry chain.
The type of cranes required has remained constant, but customers are placing greater emphasis on the quality of the supplier, taking into consideration the age of the tower crane, the appearance, the breakdown percentage and the overall customer service they expect to receive.