The art of levitation
The growing demand for accommodation has created a boom in the real estate sector and has led to an increase in high-rise buildings. The crawler crane has always been considered the most common and practical type of crane. Their strength is their long useful service life and depending on the make and model, parts and components are readily available even after the crane model has been shelved. Although new models and variants keep coming up in the market, the old conventional crawler cranes continue to provide safe and dependable service. Developing a plan to extend the working service life can bring one a good return on investment. But, before you can make an informed decision you should consider all of your options including the cost of replacement and benchmark them against each other and your budget.
Any product needs to incorporate quality in order to be reliable. From crawler cranes’ point of view reliability is fulfilled not only by quality but also by support.When we speak about the reliability of the crawler cranes we also need to consider safety. Lift operations need to be carried out with utmost safety. “We integrate highest quality components, highest safety standards and fulfil all applicable international standards. This makes our crawler cranes stand apart from the others,” says Ghananeel Molankar, head, construction machinery, Liebherr India.
The versatility of a crawler crane is based on the fact that it can be used for conventional lifting purpose. More so, as construction projects are becoming more complex and bigger in sizes, like refineries, power plants and other industrial projects, role of crawler cranes are gaining further prominence as equipment that can undertake heavy lifting. Crawler cranes in particular are popular when it comes to erecting windmills. In India one can see crawler cranes being used at metro construction sites or projects involving construction of large flyovers and bridges.
Sanjay Saxena, business head, heavy equipment at Sany Heavy Industry India says, “Reliability of crawler cranes depends on following factors: Right selection of crane size and its configuration; proper ground preparation as per the application of crane like ground pressure; reliable safety system and indicators; maintenance and operation of cranes as per standards; proper spare parts planning considering the age of crane; condition monitoring of major crane aggregates like engine, motors, pumps, booms, ropes, etc and timely remedial action in case of any problems, and; skills of operation and maintenance staff.
There are some innovations in crane applications also. The manufacturing process has undergone or is undergoing many changes. Most of them are to do with productivity on the shop floor and increasing the efficiency of people and processes. This calls for a whole lot of mechanisation and automation. There are many requirements that come which involve a high degree of automation. Cranes with diagnostic features and human-machine interface, cranes with memory, pre-programmed cranes, tandem operations, and semi- or fully-automatic cranes are some examples. However, most manufacturers in this industry have solutions for most of the requirements.
Most manufacturers find that this is the best time to invest in expanding operations or looking for new technology that could spur business when the market is back on its feet. While the crane industry has seen little revolutionary changes in technology past few years, evolutionary changes have happened.
In their bid to cash in on the emerging business opportunities in the country, the Indian arm of the Japanese crane manufacturer Kobelco Cranes, Kobelco Cranes India, two months ago signed a memorandum of understanding for expanding the existing production unit at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh. The Japanese player started commercial production of hydraulic crawler cranes in 2012 and as of now its production facility is bursting at the seams and it wants to expand its facility by adding additional space to its 10 acres existing area.
The scope for the rental market with these products works well for contractors too. According to Ravi Wadhawan, director, South Asia, Terex Port Solutions, Terex Corporation, “About 60-70% of the cranes used in India are from the rental market. Rental market of cranes in India is pretty large. Typically most crawler cranes find their way into rental market through import. We are working actively with rental companies to make them aware about the range of products in our kitty. Many rental companies import used cranes, sometimes without really knowing the complete usage history, which could be a risk. Cranes supplied by us have the ability to store records and for older cranes, we are actively engaged in discussions with the rental companies to advise them on the right steps.”
Crawler cranes are known for high reach, excellent load capacities, flexible boom configurations and safety. Molankar says that Liebherr Nenzing, Austria, manufactures crawler cranes (LR series) and duty cycle crawler cranes (HS series). The LR series are normal lifting cranes whereas the HS series are used for heavy duty cycle operations.
There are many case studies where
Liebherr crawler cranes have accomplished phenomenal lifts. He shares a case study of a LR 1300 (300t capacity crawler crane) in India. The LR 1300 was working in a cement plant in Chattisgarh. The crane lifted 8.3t with 86m main boom + 89m luffing jib + derrick + 55t suspended counterweights, a combination which is only possible with the LR 1300 and no other 300t crawler crane. The load was placed at a height of 118m. This was a magnificent lift and was first of its kind in India. The crane can be fitted with a maximum of 98m main boom, a maximum of 113m luffing jib, derrick and various fixed jibs including the 7m and 8m windmill fixed jibs. All LR series crawler cranes manufactured at Liebherr Nenzing are equipped with luffing jibs and fixed jibs.
Although capacity expansions and improvements in product range presents components manufacturers with growing business opportunities, however, the key challenge will be to fulfil the critical performance criteria as set by the crane OEMs.