With erection jobs in industrial construction sector becoming increasingly complex, a handful of heavy lift crane rental agencies in the country are adapting specialization to perform the tasks through their assets. P.P. Basistha takes a look at the gradual evolving, and highly interesting scenario.
General renting out of assets to perform erection jobs may not be a long-term assured business proposition for Indian crane rental agencies in the years to come. This is due to project sizes in industrial construction as well as general infrastructure sector attaining bigger proportions. This is coupled with projects becoming more complex than ever before. Further, leaving minimal room for complacency, owners and developers of these complex projects with erection and installing requirements, must have cranes that deliver the highest level of accuracy. Moreover, with jobs becoming increasingly time bound to arrest cost escalations, safety is a major consideration like never before. Interested crane renting parties looking to participate in these premium projects, need to fulfill all these requirements.
These sheer sized projects with very high levels of design complexity are getting featured in the Indian crude oil refinery sector. The high levels of complexity are being incorporated in greenfield crude oil refinery projects as well as in brownfield expansions. The design complexity through setting up of multiple trains is to make the refineries yield multiple finished products, and consequently deliver optimum returns on the colossal capital project investments that the project developers have committed on these giant refinery projects.
With the project developers and the project management consultants having optimum knowledge on the execution of such projects, the required lifting plan set by them is highly critical. This is well exhibited in the upcoming, Bharat Petroleum's Kochi refinery expansion project being developed at a cost of INR 14, 051.6 crores. The project, named as Integrated Refinery Expansion Project (IREP), will increase Kochi refinery's capacity from the existing 9.5 to 15.5 million metric tonnes per annum.
The challenge is more for this project and other big refinery projects because most of the critical erection jobs, which are heavier, come with tandem lifting requirements. This makes it pivotal for crane rental agencies involved in these projects to ensure that the erection jobs will have to be executed with the highest levels of precision and safety, and the load chart will have to be prepared accordingly.
Premium Assets & High KnowledgeThe lifting requirements make it prerequisite for crane rental agencies involved in these projects to deploy assets that come at a high premium. They must ofcourse, have a sound knowledge base for carrying out the erection with these premium equipment.
All Cargo has earlier partnered with Dutch heavy lift specialist Mammoet for erection of distillation columns in the mega greenfield Paradip refinery project of Indian Oil Corporation. Under the partnership, they deployed four heavy capacity crawler cranes of 2000, 1600, 1200, and 600 tons for erection of the vaccum distillation units. The cranes were configured for undertaking tandem lifting for the distillation unit column. Apart from the main boom, luffing jib configurations were made into the booms for erecting the VDU. Paradip refinery's VDU column is the largest in the world, weighing 1208mt, 57 meters in height with a diameter of 14 meters.
Complex erection and lowering requirements are also being increasingly exhibited in urban infrastructure jobs. For instance, metro railway construction using underground construction methodology with Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) for cutting hard rock strata and even for cross over rock sections. TBM's are also being increasingly used for undertaking jobs with high concentration of population where displacement is a major issue. This is evident in all the metropolitan cities.
Well maintained high capacity cranes with appropriate load chart and boom configurations supported with superlifts are being increasingly required for lowering and erecting sections of TBM's from the shafts with high levels of safety. The safety requirements are higher if the cranes are working at highly populated areas as evident in metro jobs.
Precise load calculations were made by Apollo to ensure that with given high lifting capacity, and ability of the crane to work at longer radius, the unit is able to lift exactly the required loads without any loss.
Challenges & Dividends
The need to attain asset based specialization is vital for Indian crane rental agencies, notably those active in the heavy lift segment. With projects becoming specialized and complex, competition will not be restricted from counterparts at home as earlier, but from global players which is gradually becoming evident. Rental companies that are adapting to this fact are well likely to be insulated from the fluctuations of the rental rates.