Crawler Cranes: Heightened Business Activities Expected In Lower Capacities Segment

Crawler Crane

Crawler cranes market in lower capacity segment in India has been witnessing interesting developments in the past few months with the aggressive marketing strategies of manufacturers and distributors. The progression is expected to continue through 2014, P.P. Basistha reports.

Fine-tuning product placement in the lower capacity range has been the key strategy of crawler cranes manufacturers and distributors in India to make the products better indexed to applications. The business strategy was visible from 2013 onwards. Making products better oriented to applications has been dovetailed by carrying out engineering improvements. In some cases, even the critical advancements have been made to make the cranes versatile for usage.

ABG Crawler Crane
ABG Cranes Pvt Ltd, now known as Tusker Cranes Private Ltd, will be promoting its new 1160-160 mt crawler lattice boom cranes. The crane lifts 160 mt at 5 meters radius with 18 meters boom length and 20 MT at 22 meters radius with 81 meters boom length. The new crane comes with 31 meters fixed jib and 51 meters luffing jib options. The crane is equipped with self loading / unloading and self-erection and dismantling provisions. Other standard features are ergonomically designed air conditioned operator's cabin, safety devices : safe load indicator (with overload protection / cut-off function). Boom overload hoist prevention device, LCD multi display, ultimate stop function for boom over hoist, function lock lever, mechanical drum lock pawl (main, aux and boom hoist), swing parking brake, mechanical swing lock (two position), external lamp for over-load alarm etc are the other features. With the new model, Tusker Cranes currently manufactures four models of hydraulic crawler cranes: 1040-40 MT, 1080-80 MT,1100-100 MT and 1160-160 MT capacity. The cranes are designed and manufactured at Tusker's factory at Ransai, located near Mumbai.

According to the company, all models of Tusker Cranes are manufactured with premium quality components, imported high tensile seamless steel tubes, imported hydraulic components from Germany. These cranes are working with various industries in India and have been generating repeat orders based on the assurance of quality and prompt after sales service.

The engineering initiative to make the crawler cranes suitable for varied applications is understood to be carried out responding to increasing tighter profitability with the construction companies, resulting towards compressed rates of the crane rental companies and short-term hiring contracts. The trend of making crawler cranes suitable for numerous applications is relatively new in India. The strategy is also being tried in advanced markets of Europe and US with the rental demand remaining suppressed.

Navdeep Singh
Home grown construction equipment conglomerate, Action Construction Equipment (ACE) will launch couple of new products in the lower category segment. According to Mr. Navdeep Singh, AVP Marketing, ACE, "Shortly, we will introduce 100 - 150 Tons capacity indigenously manufactured crawler crane models." The crane will be the third in its series following 2013 when it launched 25 tons capacity unit with freefall arrangement targeting piling applications market and 40 tons in 2012.

ACE Crawler Cranes
Mr. Singh elaborates, "ACX 250 (25 Tons), ACX 400 (40 Tons), and ACX 750 (75 Tons) crawler cranes are equipped with host of features and fitments, which have been engineered keeping the Indian working conditions and suitability in mind. The cranes are fitted with engines manufactured in India, which provide prompt service and spares availability. Our cranes are fitted with hydraulically extendable tracks and can easily be loaded/unloaded, along with savings in transportation cost as the numbers of trailers required are less as compared to other cranes. There is no need to dismantle the track assembly of our cranes for transportation. All our models can be supplied with suitable fly jibs, which can be offset at different angles or a runner as required for various applications." These models come with booms upto 57 mtrs and fly jib upto 18 mtrs.

He adds, "To make the cranes rugged, counter weights supplied with our cranes are not casted but are fabricated out of heavy plates with cast iron/steel ball filling and are not prone to any damage during handling/transportation." ACE's crawler cranes are fitted with standard safe load indicators with over load cut off, hoisting limiters, counter balance valves, level sensors, hoist drum locking system, safety brakes on hoists, audio slew alarm, and tri-colour audio visual external safe load indicator."

A stable local manufacturing set-up in Faridabad near Delhi has kept ACE insulated out of the volatility of currency fluctuations. Mr. Singh explains, "We do import some components, but the effect of currency fluctuation is limited in our case. As a matter of fact, owing to a strong dollar we have been able to export few cranes in the recent past. Our ability to manufacture superior, indigenously manufactured cranes at very cost-effective prices has enabled us to lead in the sub 75 tons capacity crawler cranes segment in India."

ACE will be banking on its pan India more than 100 locations for sales and services support. According to Mr. Singh, "In accordance with demand we are able to render prompt product support in-terms of service or parts requirement. Further, increased uptime is ensured with our own dedicated training centre in Faridabad providing training on operation, preventive maintenance and service/trouble shooting of our cranes."

Growing Scope for Buoyancy

Increased activity is expected in lower capacity cranes segment in the coming months in the country, characterised by newer product launches coupled with strengthening of marketing and product support initiatives by manufacturers and distributors. This is owing to numerous reasons. Firstly, the crane renting companies will continue to refrain from acquiring newer medium and heavier capacity units owing to the backdrop of higher acquisition costs of newer equipment and commensurate monthly repayment instalments owing to escalated interest rates. Subdued interest among crane renting firms for medium and higher capacity equipment will also persist owing to deficient long-term contracts between the EPC firms and the service providers.

It is also well indicated that the cranes renting companies in the country have been offloading their existing equipment. The trend has been accentuated further with growing interest of Australian and Eastern European buyers in India looking for well maintained second hand units on the backdrop of firm dollar exchange rates.

Secondly, international crane renting companies in India and also Indian firms with adequate global marketing will desist from acquiring newer heavier equipments in India on the backdrop of continued buoyant demand of units in the global markets for specialised jobs. This is evident examining the recent upward share price movement of major crane manufacturers due to new order bookings in recent months. However, mega projects expansion like Reliance-Jamnagar Refinery expansion, Kochi Refinery petrochemical project, Tata Kalinganagar steel Project, and Indian Oil Corporation LNG terminal project at Ennore, are likely to renew interest among local and global renting companies as evident by the interest of global crane renting majors like, All Cargo, Apollo Cranes, Al Jaber Heavy Lift, Sarens, Vander Vilst (heavy lift transporter) Mammoet for the projects that could drive demand for newer heavier equipments. Now its waiting game to see what will be the quantum of new demand of medium and bigger units the new projects will actually create.

Thirdly, major emergence of new first-time rental companies, contended with modest margins will create demand of lower capacity crawler cranes. Fourthly, lower capacity crawler cranes will be growing with demand from civil construction firms with adequate project linkages. This is a very new significant trend in the crawler cranes market in India.

Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery
According, to company sources TATA Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Limited (THCM), "Though the crawler market has remain depressed in the project lifting segment, we've delivered 10-12 units of our Tata Friction Crane to Foundation segment. To make the cranes well aligned to the requirements of both Lifting and Heavy duty Foundation applications, we have been carrying out Engineering improvements in our TFC range to stay abreast of customer needs. Auxiliary jibs have been added to the booms that will increase lifting speed in single line operation and hence improve productivity in lifting jobs. Further, the reconfigured boom extension will ensure that the crane is able to function at a longer radius, for lifting and lowering diaphragm wall cages as necessitated by the Metro railway projects." He adds, "To suit general liftig and heavy duty Foundation applications, we have strengthened the boom structure, added heavy duty winches and heavy duty brake bands. The other improvisations have been the digital safe load indicators, tower light assembly, sophisticated pneumatic controls replacing mechanical controls. TFC's remain preferred choice of hirers and contractors even today due to its versatility , reliability and low maintenance cost"

Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Limited is the market leader in the segment through its 'Tata Friction Cranes' (TFC) is selling 25-75 tons capacity class. THCM expects to retain its market presence through its 32 branch offices, 37 dealers having 250+ outlets across the country enabling it to cover equipment working within 80-90km radius. The company will add 5 new dealers to its network in 2014-15. THCM also sell hydraulic crawler cranes from Hitachi Sumitomo, Japan.

Market size of crawler cranes across segments is likely to be around 40 units (excluding major demand from Reliance Jammnagar project expansion) across capacity segments during 2013-14, down from 130 units in 2012-13. Market for FY 13-14 projected to remain within 30-40 units excluding any major off take from petro chemical sector.

To insulate itself from intense competition, XCMG Machinery India's strategy will be to market its lighter and medium capacity crawler lattice boom cranes to its captive existing customers representing both the hiring and corporate segment. The Chinese construction equipment major has a working fleet of 150-200 units of crawler cranes in India. The population ranges between 55-650 tons in India. XCMG has manufactured and supplied a largest crane of 4000 Ton Lifting capacity Crawler crane.

XCMG Crawler Cranes
Mr. H.V. Kulkarni, Director-Marketing, XCMG India says, "In current market situation,We are targeting such clients who are using our products and have assured jobs at their disposal. Knowledge of our products and brand with the existing customers will facilitate us to promote the XCMG crawler cranes."

He adds, "To ensure that the customers favor our brand , we have established a full-fledged warehouse at Thurbhe in Navi Mumbai, stocking parts of around Rs.5crores which is adequate to support our existing fleet of cranes in India. To ensure timely availability of parts at sites, we support our three dealers. However, product support is facilitated through our own XCMG engineers and personnel from dealers end."

Pricing the products competitively has been a challenge for XCMG to promote its cranes in India. The company is looking to make them affordable by fitting local aggregates like engine of Indian origin into the cranes. Further, there are long term plans to set up a manufacturing unit in India.

Sany India will soon be localizing its 75-100-150 tons crawler lattice boom cranes for the Indian market. It also has plans to assemble 250 tons crawler units for the Indian infrastructure sector in the future. The partial indigenization of some of the products was planned & done by Sany some time back. However, plans to proceed with the higher levels of indigenization were deferred owing to dip in demand for the cranes. These plans are now being revived. Under the plan, fabrication, sourcing of basic structure, engines, some hydraulic parts and ropes will be made or sourced in India.

Deepak Garg
Mr. Deepak Garg, CEO, Sany India says, "We will carry out engineering customizations in our crawler cranes, so as to make them attuned to Indian requirements. The improvisation will be supported by our dedicated research and development centre in Pune dovetailed by inputs from our global R&D centers in Germany, US and China."

He elaborates, "Vital thrust will be given towards design optimization. Modifications in the designs shall be done to meet the load lifting requirements of the jobs expected by customers in India and will be carried out in order to deliver required lifting capacities at needed radius. Modifications in the will be made so as to meet the load lifting/ chart requirements, both for the basic, auxiliary boom and the luffing arrangements. Customization will also be made in the safety features based on the emerging requirements of the Indian power projects and upcoming modern refinery projects. The safety features required are much at par with global requirements."

Product support will be the key strategy for Sany to build up its brand in India so as to optimally support existing customers. Mr. Garg notes. He adds, "product support, ensuring availability of complete support solutions also will be the prime strategy to support our newer sales.

Sany Crawler Crane

He explains, "We have tied up with global suppliers in India to ensure that our cranes have maximum performance uptime with guaranteed service. We study the concentration of our cranes every quarter and take into cognizance cross territory movement of the units. Based on the cross territory movement, we reorganize our service support infrastructure to back up the pocket of concentration to ensure timely support of parts and personnel. We ensure that pockets with major concentration of our cranes receive support within 8 hours while in any other part of the country it is within 1 day." Sany India has embarked on a major service back up campaign for the next one month, where the existing fleet of machines would be inspected and recommended for preventive maintenance. To support the machines, Sany India presently maintains a spare parts stock of Rs.55 crores at its central warehouse in Pune, which according to the company ensures over 95% of availability to the customers. Sany India will make fresh investments of Rs.20 crores during the present year to beef up stock of its spare parts, so as to improve the availability further to support the growing volumes of its cranes.

A major order of 15 units of 180 MT crawler cranes has been bagged by Sany India from Reliance for its second phase of expansion (J3) of Jamnagar refinery. The company is now in the process of supplying these units for the mega industrial project. The fast growing equipment conglomerate has a population of over 400 units of cranes working in India among which 80% of units consist of crawler cranes. Sany India presently offers the widest range of crawler cranes ranging between 50T to 3600 MT capacities for the Indian market. Sany's other product line comprises earthmoving, road infrastructure, piling, port logistics and underground and opencast mining solutions.

A K Somani
Crawler Lattice Boom Cranes
Although there are modest indications of market widening, notwithstanding, continued overpowered heightened compression in market is surely to make competition intense in crawler lattice boom cranes both in lower, medium and heavier capacities. Mr. A.K.Somani, Representative Director Liebherr India, promoting 300 tons+ category segment of liebherr crawler says, "The new evolving demand order is more about offering technical support supplementing product offering to consolidate market presence. Taking cognizance of the same, our focus will be on service support to strengthen our training, timely parts support through sizeable inventory backup." Liebherr India will be setting up its own warehouse in Kolkata this year wherein it will store components to meet all emergency needs..

To enhance focus on service and support, Liebherr India will strengthen its manpower. Mr. Somani says, "Having good strength of highly trained and qualified service engineers are on the radar. Our intention is to keep offering value to our customers through our reliable products, superior after sales support by inducting additional service stations. Valued customer support is vital for us, as majority of our new businesses in India are coming from existing customers. With the induction of more and more advanced cranes in the Indian market, we will strengthen our training support. Onsite training is being rendered along with extensive training at Plant in Germany."

Liebherr is expanding its service centers in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad / Bangalore apart from the existing one at Kolkata. Liebherr markets its two class variants of crawler cranes in India. The first comprises Crawler cranes capacities ranging from 350-3000 tons and Tyre mounted cranes from 35 to 1,200 tons, which are produced at Liebherr Werk Ehingen GmbH, Ehingen, Germany. The second are Crawler cranes from 100-300 tons, which comes from other plant Liebherr Werk Nenzing GmbH, Nenzing, Austria. Cranes from this plant also covers the duty cycle segment.

Ghananeel Molankar
Based on emerging preference for lower and medium capacity crawler units, Liebherr India is optimistic of better business prospects. According to Mr. Ghananeel Molankar, Sales Manager, Liebherr Construction Machinery, "Growing demand has been witnessed in 250t and 300t capacity units in recent years. We had some serious enquiries for 250t and 300t capacity cranes even during prevailing low market conditions."

Liebherr Construction Machinery
Liebherr Construction Machinery India asserts that the crawler cranes are versatile in engineering to function in different job applications in India. Mr. Molankar explains, "LR 1300, our 300 ton unit has been finding growing preference with contractors in India. We have made the model now sturdier by offering a stronger boom, making it more adaptable to Indian job conditions."

He continues, "Renamed as LR 1300 SX, the distinguishing feature of the crane is its boom combinations. LR 1300 SX can be configured with a maximum of 92m main boom, 113m luffing jib and various fixed jibs including windmill fixed jib of 7m and 8m. With 56m main boom and 113m luffing jib the LR 1300 SX can reach a height of 169m. This makes the LR 1300 SX the only 300t crawler crane to reach this height. Additionally, its excellent load charts are superior to the competition. One of our Indian customers who owns LR 1300, is working with 86m of main boom + 89m luffing jib + derrick. This combination is one of its kinds in India and a perfect example of superb boom combinations."

Strengthening its lower capacity segment, Liebherr launched the LR 1250 (250t capacity) crawler crane at Bauma Munich 2013. LR 1250 is equipped with a maximum main boom and luffing jib combination of 148m (53m main boom and 95m luffing jib). Mr. Molankar adds, "At par with LR 1300 SX, the LR 1250 also wipes out the competition in terms of high reach and long working range." Liebherr India offers Heavy Duty Cycle Crawler Cranes – "HS series" in the range of 30t to 300t capacity. The German construction equipment conglomerate showed its new HS 8300 (300t capacity) in Bauma Munich 2013. According to Mr. Molankar, "Some of these machines are already working with construction companies in India and Sri Lanka. The HS series crawler crane is a versatile machine for the construction sector. The HS series is capable of many different duty cycle applications like clamshell, dredging, dragline, slurry wall grab, slurry wall cutter, deep vibration, dynamic soil compaction, casing oscillator, carrier for drilling and piling works and of course lifting."

However, the challenge for Liebherr, at par with other foreign manufacturers towards increasing sales of its lower capacity cranes is the firmness in dollar pricing and compressed rental rates. Mr. Molankar says, "As a solution, we are in talks with some foreign banks that have presence in India. These banks provide finance to our clients at cheaper rate. Further, we are offering separate promotional packages to rental and corporate clients based on their requirements." Liebherr does not have any immediate plans for localisation.

One of the major developments in marketing lower capacity units have been made by Fuwa cranes for Reliance Jammnagar expansion. Sources close to the development have indicated that the Chinese manufacturer has bagged an order of 20+ units from the mega industrial expansion project. The deal is expected to be close to $20 million. Fuwa has earlier sold fair number of lower capacity crawler cranes to contractors involved in Delhi Metro Railway third phase project.

Sanjay Vasudeo
Mr. Sanjay Vasudeo, Director Fuwa Cranes India says, "The growing acceptability of Fuwa cranes in India has been essentially due to the versatility of the cranes. FUWA 320T onwards are available with super lifts and boom and jib combinations. Fuwa 100 tons are self-erecting cranes which meet varied customer job site requirements along with increased uptime."

Hydraulic Pumps
He mentions further, "sustained focus on R&D, appropriate pricing combined with right quality right after sales service resulting in shorter payback period has been instrumental towards Fuwa's stable growth in India." FUWA's crawler cranes are available between 35T to 1250T crawler cranes.

According to the company, Fuwa crawler cranes are equipped with engines from Cummins USA, hydraulics, valve bank, joy sticks and winches procured from Rexroth – Germany, safe load indicators from Pat, Hirschman and swing bearings from Rothe Erde. Mr Vasudeo is optimist on business prospect of Fuwa crawler cranes in 2014. He says, "We are 70 of us all technocrats working for FUWA India constituting 36 service and 10 engineers looking after parts support all to ensure our cranes receive adequate support for higher uptime and consequently brand recall. We carry spares inventory exceeding $1.75million, comprising engines, hydraulic pumps, undercarriage parts, SLI's and its parts, anemometer's and its parts, solenoid coils etc."

Though the recent buoyancy may have been heaving a sigh-of-relief among crawler crane manufacturers and distributors, but at the same time it will be required to be sustained through cost and quality competitive product offerings and support services as rental rates are unlikely to appreciate soon.
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