Mobile Cranes Fresh Wave of Demand

With construction of major infra projects seeing a revival, expectations are rife that the market for mobile cranes will soon witness higher sales, including of the new, more advanced products, and a hardening of the rental rates, all of which will lead to sustained growth of the mobile crane industry. A report by NBM&CW.

Mobile crane manufacturers are expecting a fresh wave of demand across 20-60 tons and the higher 80-100 tons in the all-terrain category. Demand projection for the current year for the 20-60-ton category is 50-60 units, while for the 80-100 tons it is 30 to 35 units. Ongoing expansions of roads, metro railways, and general infrastructure are driving demand as is the pent-up requirement for routine maintenance of oil refineries, cement, and power plants, with the lockdown easing.

Some brown- and greenfield project expansions like the IOCL Paradip Refinery, backward integration projects of petrochemicals, and 3rd tier expansion of the Kochi Refinery, are raising demand for both mobile and crawler cranes.

Fresh acquisitions have been picking up since May 2021. However, the actual demand realization will depend on the debt position of the crane owners and availability of liquidity. Notwithstanding, advanced products promising higher productivity and safety at sites, are expected to give crane owners the extra legroom to bargain for better hiring rates.

Liebherr Cranes India: Enabling Optimum Usage
Subhajit Chandra, Head-Liebherr Cranes India
Liebherr Cranes India is meeting the requirements of all project sizes with its extensive range of all-terrain cranes ranging from 35 tons to 1200 tons. Says Subhajit Chandra, Head-Liebherr Cranes India, “We offer cranes for small, medium, and large projects. The sheer size of infra projects in core industries require lifting of larger and heavier numbers of trains like fractionators and distillation columns, bigger turbines for 2x600-MW power plants, and bigger sections of TBMs: the reason why our higher capacity cranes, which go up to 1200-ton capacity, are in demand, while our competitors are offering only 100-300 tons.”

He adds, “Another competitive feature of our cranes is their design, which adheres to Worldwide accepted standard EN-13000, besides their superior structural and operational characteristics, and, most importantly the safety features. All the robust safety features like the valves against hydraulic hose ruptures and the different configuration of booms with counterweight monitoring are integrated through sensors, which help the operator to gauge correctly the pressure exerted through the winches, the weight at the top of the boom and at the end. The movement of the counterweights are fully integrated to the load chart of the cranes and can be monitored through the sensors. These features make the cranes easy and safe to operate.”

Chandra informs that easy and cost-effective operation of Liebherr all-terrain cranes is facilitated by the unique ‘Vario Ballast,’ through which, the crane is required to move less volumes of ballast. The counterweight can be optimized through pre-set programming based on the load chart, and the actual loads to be lifted. Further, the most innovative arbitrary placement of the variable support system-Vario base enables the cranes to work even on space-constrained sites. “The complete integration, or rather, marriage between the hydraulics, mechanical parts, structure, and engine delivers optimum utilization of our cranes,” he points out.

Sany India: Focus on High Performing Products
Sanjay Saxena, Senior Vice President & Head of Heavy Equipment Business Unit, Sany India
With the aim of strengthening its presence in the fast-growing truck crane category of 25 to 110 tons, Sany Heavy Industry India pvt. Ltd. has launched CEV Stage IV emission compliant versions of STC250C, STC450C, STC600C, STC800C and STC1100C for the Indian market. These cranes have been manufactured at the company’s plant in Chakan, Pune.

Expressing satisfaction with the new products, Sanjay Saxena, Senior Vice President & Head of Heavy Equipment Business Unit, Sany India, says, “We are confident that our five advanced truck cranes, which comply with the new emission standards, will boost sales and help us sustain our leadership in the segment. Our cranes have been showing good traction in flyover construction, refinery expansions, metro projects and Bullet train project. We are now planning to launch more products – all of which will comply with CEV Stage IV emission norms.”

He informs that STC 250C consumes less power and its tipping over early-warning technology provides stability and safety during operation. Its maximum load-lifting capacity is 25 ton at working radius of 3mts and the crane has a maximum boom length of 33.5m. The STC450C has an adjustable hydraulic system, intelligent electric controls, and is fuel efficient. Its maximum loading capacity is 45 tons at a working radius of 3m and a maximum boom length of 43.5m.

The STC600C has a lifting capacity of 60tons at a working radius of 3m, and a boom length of 45.5m in its class. The STC800C has a higher lifting capacity of 80tons at a working radius of 3m and a maximum boom length of 47.5 m.

Sanjay Saxena says, “The higher productivity requirements of infra projects will demand cranes with advanced mechanized solutions, high-loading capacities, longer boom lengths, low fuel consumption, and easy maintenance. The cranes will also be expected to undertake a multitude of application activities. We are therefore investing in research and development of advanced performance features in our cranes to make them adaptable to the emerging trends.”

To minimize mobilization and demobilization costs, some of Sany’s all-terrain cranes have partial counterweight carrying capability, due to which the cranes can be driven with Counter weight which will be reducing transport cost.

“Our mobile cranes’ intelligent electrical control system also ensures a simple harness and steady signal transmission for real-time auto-monitoring of operation conditions. The adjustable hydraulic system and engine’s multimode power output function contribute towards reduced fuel consumption without compromising on efficiency. Additionally, a double-axle drive provides good manoeuvrability and comfort even in complex road conditions,” informs Saxena.

Sany India has a network of over 37 dealers and 160+ touch points across India and South Asia, backed by a dedicated service team, and a multi-lingual call centre for customer assistance. EVI APP helps customers manage their machines’ health status and track them. Sany also gives onsite training to operators on basic machine maintenance and troubleshooting.

Schwing Stetter India: Optimizing Design
V.G. Sakthi Kumar, MD, Schwing Stetter India
Schwing Stetter India is expanding its presence in the small capacity, higher volume market, with XCMG’s 50, 60, 85, 100 and 150-ton crane categories. Informs V.G. Sakthi Kumar, MD, Schwing Stetter India, “Our focus has always been on offering our customers differentiated products for performing specific tasks. They come with various counterweight combinations, and are designed to make them easier for inter-site transfers. They are fitted with longer booms to minimize their transport cost and assembly time. In fact, XCMG cranes are designed keeping in mind economy and ease of operation, assembly, and transportation. All of this is very important for markets like India where projects have tight completion timelines and greater safety requirements.”

Schwing Stetter India
He adds, “XCMG truck cranes deliver industry-leading performance with their high strength components (a prerequisite for high capacity at shorter radii). We are the first in India to introduce all-axle steering in our truck cranes for better maneuverability, which can be seen in our latest 100-ton crane. XCMG cranes also have the smallest turning radii in their categories for working in sites with space constraints.”

Other standard features include safe-load indicator with overload prevention, alarms indicating wind speed, uneven ground, swing and travel alarms, function lock-out etc, all of which keep the operator aware of the operating conditions and also of any impending unsafe condition. An easy outrigger spread mode selection ensures stability and there is a self-diagnosis tool for the engine that curtail requirements of any independent scanner.

Informs Sakthi Kumar, “Our cranes have optimized design features such as specialised booms with auto mode operation. The U-shaped sections are made of a high steel grade to enable higher load lifting. Auto Telescoping technology controls boom extension and retraction for smooth operation of the telescopic boom.”

As regards the company’s service and support initiatives to customers, he says, “To help our customers maintain higher uptime of our cranes, we provide parts support at their project sites; we undertake comprehensive health check of their fleet; and we advise them on the necessary service requirements well in advance. We also undertake major repairs of our older cranes; in fact, we will extend our refurbishment services if there is more demand from our customers.”

Escorts Construction Equipment: Offering Advanced Products
Abhijit Shinde, Head of Marketing, Escorts Construction Equipment
Escorts Construction Equipment is widening its range of new-generation ‘Safe Cranes’ with the launch of two new articulated mobile pick & carry cranes, and plans to subsequently introduce higher capacity pick & carry cranes.

Says Abhijit Shinde, Head of Marketing, Escorts Construction Equipment, “Safe Cranes are available in the range of 14 to 23 ton and now introduced new 27 & 30 ton pick & carry cranes, which are targeted for infrastructure construction and specialized applications like bridge maintenance. These cranes with their articulated design are developed in-house & are designed to operate with heavy Loads.”

He adds, “Our conventional Hydra range of pick & carry cranes has been catering to the medium and small rental companies for long, as these versatile cranes can move easily on roads and perform variety of jobs such as utility transfer at sites, Industries, cities etc. On the other hand, our Safe Cranes have higher lifting capacities, and many new features like telematics, safe load indicator, anti-toppling control, outrigger home sensing etc, so, these cranes offer a higher value proposition to buyers looking for a premium ECEL product. Existing pick & carry crane owners can also consider graduating to these advanced products.”

Escorts Construction Equipment

The company is providing end-to-end services for its products. Informs Shinde, “Besides our own service teams across India, we have around 70 dealers, 800 customer touchpoints providing dedicated services, and for supply of spare parts we have around 55 Parts Distributors. We also have mobile app for after sales support wherein customers can reach us through the app which is a step forward for faster response time and our customers can also reach us through our dedicated call centre.”

Action Construction Equipment: Enhancing Customer Experience
Manoj Agarwal, AVP - HED Sales & Product Support, ACE
Action Construction Equipment (ACE) is gearing up to expand its mobile crane product line to cater to a larger segment of users. Says Manoj Agarwal, AVP - HED Sales & Product Support, ACE. “Presently, we are manufacturing truck cranes from 25 to 60-ton capacity; our 80-ton is also ready for a commercial launch. Soon, with our 25 to 80-ton capacity we will be able to meet almost 80% of the industry’s requirements.”

Action Construction Equipment
ACE also manufactures its cranes on other truck chassis for the export market. The company is making some improvisations in the cranes so that they deliver higher productivity. Says Agarwal, “The boom is the main component of the crane, and we take special care in its design and fabrication. We are using high tensile steel, which is lightweight, so that the crane’s weight is kept under control. The U-shaped booms have optimized tolerances between each section for stability. With over 25 years of experience in material handling, we know how to design cranes to give them complete stability.”

He agrees that rental rates continue to remain under pressure, besides which there is the persisting issue of cash flow with crane owners who are therefore reluctant to go for new equipment. “In our view, the cash flow will become smoother in the next few months and the industry is likely to be better off by the end of Q2 of FY 2021-22. As regards the rental rates, a correction is long overdue. A compatible bargaining rate needs to be reached between the crane rental agencies and the hirers. The increase in equipment cost due to inflation, diesel prices touching Rs. 100/litre, surging steel prices, and the change in emission norms of cranes from April 2021, are leading to a rise in the price of new cranes. An equitable demand and supply situation will be critical, and once we see a higher utilization of cranes, the rental rates will also see some correction.”

“The construction equipment conglomerate is banking on an enhanced customer experience to generate fresh sales along with product support. Our dedicated team of service engineers are in constant touch with all the operating and maintenance staff of our customers to lend immediate support. We have an extensive network of outlets across the country through which we are making timely delivery of parts. Our training facility in Faridabad is also providing training at project sites, plus we hold regular courses on the advanced features and technology in our products for our operating and maintenance teams, so that we can deliver higher equipment uptime to our customers,” says Agarwal.
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