Tower Cranes Making Their Mark

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
Demands from core infrastructure projects in construction and power segment are calling for increasing use of tower cranes. Partha Pratim Basistha reports.
At par with traditional construction demand, requirement from real estate projects, tower cranes are now finding their growing applications for high end infrastructure projects, pertaining to power, refinery and other range of industrial projects. To meet the assorted growing requirement from the core infrastructure sector, tower cranes manufacturers and distributors are offering the required product mix with requisite customer support in the same order.

Construction Segment

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
" Tower cranes have been finding their applications at project sites, primarily pertaining to real estate construction projects in India for quite some time now. However, the equipment were looked at more as lifting machinery rather than support equipment. But placed with complex construction demand requirements from high end infrastructure projects, the fallacy is getting gradually discarded," says Mr. Ashwani Mattoo, National Sales Manager for Potain Tower Cranes, and Manitowoc Cranes, India. He interprets, "the complexity in core construction project pertaining to lifting of heavy materials, involving steel rebars, formwork and other structural components at bigger heights and placing them at right precision." Manitowoc has placed a number of its Potain tower cranes for the construction of the super structure of the Sushant Lok Station in Gurgaon, Haryana, part of the Delhi Metro Railway project. Potain tower cranes also found its application in the recently completed landmark Mumbai-Worli Sea Link project.

Mr. Mattoo says, "to ensure that the cranes are able to lift higher loads, the steel we use in our cranes are of rigid variant." Manitowoc manufactures Potain tower cranes in India with a lifting capacity of 5–16 tonnes at its manufacturing facility in Pune as per European design. The cranes are produced both for the domestic and export market.

According to Mr.Mattoo, "Manitowoc is eyeing the high end construction sectors for its tower cranes in a big way and to provide requisite customer support we bank on Manitowoc Crane Care, our comprehensive after sales service that offers experts diagnosis and repair to customers."

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
He adds, "Manitowoc Crane Care is one of the most advanced service and support programmes available in the industry. The programme backed by technicians having in depth knowledge on installation, operation and maintenance of the tower cranes, provides continuous support throughout the life of the cranes offering global access to parts, service, technical assistance and training to ensure minimal downtime of the cranes. Extended downtime is detrimental to high end construction projects as it can produce a bigger negative return impact on capital employed. This is generally owing to a bigger construction dimension as compared to highrise residential construction project."

Examples of usage of tower cranes in high end complex construction projects are growing in India. With one of world–class, recently completed Mumbai-Worli Sea Link project. Tower cranes were extensively employed in the land mark project to lift pre-fabricated steel structures brought at the piers of the bridge as well as for lifting raw materials. The cranes were also used for pouring concrete at the pier level and also at the ground level not accessible by concrete boom pumps at the project.

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
Understanding the utility of tower cranes as a support equipment rather than a mere lifting equipment is also endorsed by Mr. Sheetal Malik, DGM - Sales, Escorts Construction Equipment Limited. According to Mr. Malik, "tower cranes are finding its increasing application in wide range of high end projects. And construction complexities vary from projects to projects consisting power, refinery or any other industrial construction projects. However, with their application flexibility, tower cranes are able to deal with the critical construction requirements with ease. This is calling for the use of the equipment in an enhanced manner in high end construction projects." ECEL is the exclusive distributor of Chinese made Wei-Hai Huata Tower cranes in India. The cranes are distributed by ECEL under the brand name of Escorts - Huata cranes.

The Escorts - Huata cranes have been finding its application in high end projects undertaken by contractors consisting, IVRCL, NCC, Gammon, Maytas for its dam projects and for Indu Projects and others. The cranes have been finding its usage also with cranes rental companies for big projects as well. However, one of the significant industrial construction projects where an Escorts - Huata 5013 crane is finding use, is for a construction of concrete silo project at Aligarh. sBeing executed by contractor Gannon - Dunkerley, the project involves construction of a concrete silo at a height of 110 metres. As per Mr. Malik, "the project is complex and have to be completed within a compressed time schedule and our Escorts - Huata having a maximum lifting capacity of 6 tons and 1.3 tons hard an extended jib of 50 metres is working at to complete the same swiftly."

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
As per Mr. Malik, "increase use of tower cranes is also owing to fast mechanisation of construction activities led by the fact that there are increasing number of BoT projects, precisely for high end and captive power projects." He points out, "stipulation laid by the Government to increase height of chimneys in thermal power projects have also led to usage of tower cranes in an increasing order to combat environmental hazards."

Escorts - Huata tower cranes are available in six models. The maximum with a lifting capacity of 18 tonnes and minimum of 3 tons at an extended jib of 70 metres. The cranes are made of low carbon steel and come with interchangeable mode. The cranes are European certified and are equipped with load limiters, trolley limiters etc. As a part of customer support, ECEL undertakes the installation and maintenance of the cranes through its engineers, trained in China based across its pan India service network.

Increase usage of tower cranes for core construction projects have been exemplified by Chinese Construction Equipment conglomerate. According to Mr. Lee Ling, Sales Manager - South Asia, Hunan Zoomlion International Trade Co Limited, "major construction projects where Zoomlion tower cranes have been used in India includes, office building, apartment, business center, power station, airport, steel plants, metro projects, and so on. The tower cranes have been bought by contractors involving, L&T, MTG, Ahluwalia, Punj Lloyd, M&M, JMC, Birla, K.Raheja, Unity infra, and others."

Mr. Lee informs, "tower crane models finding increasing acceptance in India are of 6 tons (TC5013B-6) for office building, apartment, business center, and shopping center. Whereas 10 tons (TC6020A-10), and 12 tons (TC7030B-12) for big office buildings, power stations, airports, steel plant projects."

Bulk of Zoomlion tower cranes sold to India are having the working height of about 40-80m. Zoomlion, which entered into the Indian construction equipment market in 2004 distributes its Chinese made tower cranes through the distribution tie-up with Action Construction Equipment (ACE).

According to Mr. Lee, "Zoomlion tower cranes have about 30 models with lifting capacity varying from 6 ton to 63 ton. The cranes are equipped with features comprising, mechanism and electricity protection. Mechanism protection equipment includes wire rope anti-broken device and trolley shaft anti-broken device. The electricity protection equipment includes the height limiter, slewing limiter, trolley limiter and travel limiter, moment limiter, overload limiter, and anemoscope."

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
He mentions, "for the steel to be used in cranes, we select the most prominent quality product supplier in China to ensure the quality, stability and reliability, we also use the tube steel, which is more stable and reliable. Our welding standards has the TUV certificate, which confirm Zoomlion tower crane steel structure can work in tough working condition. All of these significant features make the cranes applicable for high end projects and ensure their safe operation."

Zoomlion, which claims to have about 30% market share in India in tower cranes has sold over 300 units so far. According to Mr. Lee, we will develop some of our big tower cranes, which are mainly for the big projects such as the power station, steel factory, bridge, airport and so on, to enlarge the field of applications of our tower cranes in India and thereby increase its sales.

Zoomlion provides the requisite customer support through its dealer ACE. The service support includes installation and decommissioning of the cranes and periodical checks of the tower crane at the jobsite. The company has an established after sales service station and spare parts stock across India with engineers in place. Zoomlion also offers both flat top and hammer head tower crane and luffing tower crane. Besides these, it also offers outrigger stationary, chassis stationary, mobile types for all of our tower cranes, and bolt stationary and inner-climbing type for some tower cranes.

According to Mr. Lee, "Indian tower cranes market has enormous potential, and more manufacturers have entered or are planning to enter into the market making competition acute. Most tower cranes in India are for the residential projects, so the small tower cranes are most popular in the market, especially for the tower cranes with max load capacity of 6 tons. However, the Indian Government is spending a lot of money on infrastructure, big tower cranes with heightened lifting capacities would be needed for the infrastructure projects such as power station, steel plants, bridges, and so on."

Power Segment

Among high end projects, one of the growing application area of tower cranes is power plant construction projects. This is one of the high end construction project sectors and perhaps the most critical, owing to the construction complexities involved, which would place demand for tower cranes in a bigger way.

India has set up a target of 70,000MW of power capacity addition during the eleventh plan (2007-2012) and further to 1,00,000MW during the twelth plan period. The power capacity requirement would be met through a requirement of thermal, hydro and nuclear power projects, all which would require deployment of tower cranes in a big way at project sites.

Deployment of tower cranes at power plant project sites is necessitated dually by the construction requirement and also by the new constructions stipulations laid by the government. As per Mr. Mani Mathivanan, General Manager-Projects, GMR Energy Limited, "newer norms, laid by government, like increasing the height of the chimneys at thermal power stations to avoid environmental hazards has also made it imperative for use of tower cranes with greater heights in construction of thermal power projects." He informs, "as per new environmental norms, laid by Ministry of Environment, chimneys have to be constructed at a height of 275 metres height and for cooling towers with a height of 80 metres putting requirements of tower cranes in big order."

Similar views are endorsed by Mr. R.K Singh, Purchase Officer, Equipment Purchase Division, Afcons. Afcons has been using couple of tower cranes, with a height of 67 metres at its construction site at Cochin where it is constructing a liquefied natural gas tank at a height of 52 metres for LNG Petronet. It is also using tower cranes for the construction work of Koldan Hydro Power Project in Himachal Pradesh for construction of dam involving 52 metres height.

Application necessity of tower cranes in power projects can be described best in terms of the construction complexity the projects offer. In hydro power projects while the equipment is used to lift construction material, the cranes are also essentially used to lower turbine shaft, which could weigh between 2-15 tonnes, 40-50 metres below the ground. Lowering of turbine shaft in hydro power projects can be described as a critical application area. Followed by lowering of turbine shaft, tower cranes are also used to construct the supporting structurals, another critical application area. Tower cranes have delivered their due application for construction of Jurola dam project at Mehboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh. The project involved lifting construction materials for the dam project and also lowering turbine shaft and materials for the supporting structure.

While circuitous construction requirement would put need of tower cranes, it is actually the project requirement that would lead to the demand pull for tower cranes from the power sector notably from nuclear projects. This is based on the fact that the government has lined up important nuclear projects for development.

India is planning to set up a slew of nuclear power stations across the country with the sites being chosen so far are Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Pati Sonapur in Orissa, Haripur in West Bengal, and Mithirvirdi in Gujarat. Six to eight reactors of 1,000-1,650MW are proposed to be installed at each nuclear park. According to Mr. Sudhinder Thakur, Executive Director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, "the government's ambitious programme to enhance the nuclear power generation of the country to 7280MW from the present 4120MW, would put in great demand of tower cranes of various heights with varied lifting capacities for undertaking the lined up projects. Even there would be demand for special application tower cranes with luffing arrangements."

Equipment for Heavy Lifting

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
Getting flair of the growing requirement from high end construction sector, equipment manufacturers are looking for placement for tower cranes capable of undertaking heavy weight lifting jobs added with the needed customer support. According to Mr. Sandeep Nirmal, DGM Marketing, Syncon Infrastructure Services (India) Pvt. Ltd. "as compared to a residential highrise job, the application of tower cranes in industrial project sites are far more demanding in terms of the load to be lifted: anything you lift is generally going to be heavy and our Chinese made Jianglu tower cranes on offer are capable of lifting the heavy load based on customers requirement."

Syncon has delivered its Jianglu JL 5515-QTZ80F for construction requirement of JK cement plant at Gujarat. The crane has a maximum hoisting capacity of 8 tonnes and a jib length of 55 metres. Syncon has also delivered one of its JL 8032-QRZ500 for construction of Ambuja cement plant at Sirohi in Rajasthan. The crane which has a maximum lifting capacity of 26 tonnes has a jib length of 80 metres. Syncon's Jianglu tower cranes are also finding their applications in osther high end projects across the country.

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
According to Mr. Nirmal, the Jianglu tower cranes has notable safety features comprising, safe Load Moment Restrictor as Std. and Safe Load Indicator, weight Limit Switch, Anometer – Wind Speed monitoring device, Limit Switches – Swing, Hoisting, Trolley, Rope - Anti Twisting Device etc. Other features of the cranes includes, "for longer life, the Jianglu cranes have – Q235C grade of steel equivalent to ISO Fe 360C, ASTM 283M, JIS G3106. Besides these, as compared to other products the Jianglu cranes have total interchangeable features for total convertibility from internal to external and vice versa making the crane economical for application."

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
Mr. Nirmal mentions, "since in high end construction projects it is quite essential for the selection of right equipment followed by support for the equipment's opertaion and maintenance, we at Syncon have support meetings with the project engineers and architects to enable them select the right equipment. In accordance with this, Syncon provides customized solutions to suit the site conditions. After detail study of site conditions, we suggest the right model of tower crane. Besides, we also provide annual maintenance contract and technical support in terms of parts and components support." Syncon is a consortium of Chinese construction equipment manufacturers involving, Liugong, Pengpu and Jianglu.

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
Equipment distributor to offer tower cranes for heavy lifting industrial infrastructure projects also includes, Spartan Engineering Company Limited. According to Mr. Vikram Mehta, Managing Director, Spartan, "we have recently supplied our tower cranes for reconstruction project of SAIL’s Indian Iron and Steel Plant near Kolkata. Besides, we have also supplied tower cranes for construction of ACC’s cement plant at Wadi near Hyderabad among other projects."

As per Mr. Mehta, "our tower cranes have advanced features for effective functioning in high end as well as real estate projects. We provide tower cranes that have features involving slew and hoist motors having brush less motors, split type mast with pin joint." He says, to make the cranes suitable for infrastructure projects Spartan cranes are available with wide range of capacities and with stationery inner climbing and rail mounted versions (suitable for dam construction projects). The company claims about offering luffing crane with 45 metres jib length having maximum 10 tons load and 3 tons tip load with 360 degree coverage area for a real estate project in India. Further, it claims to have offered 50 ton tower crane and 9 tons tip load tower crane with a 70 metre jib length for high end construction project.

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
Company to offer tower cranes with safety features making them eligible to work for core infrastructure projects is Changlin Engineering Services India Private Limited. According to Mr. Wice Li, Executive Director, Changlin India "since tower cranes working in high end projects have to be rugged and safe, keeping the same in consideration, we are providing tower cranes manufactured through high tensile steel." Changlin provides training to operators of its cranes through its engineers. Changlin tower cranes are available with lifting capacities ranging from 6.00 to 12.00 tonnes. However, the company can provide tower cranes with 50 tonnes lifting capacity as well.

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
Steel constitutes the major constituent for tower cranes, occupying almost 80% share among the other components that goes in the machine, comprising the electricals and the
Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
safety features. Hence, the feature of the steel have to be of qualitative variant, most essentially when the tower cranes have to be applied for high end construction projects, or even other – wise. According to Mr. R.B. Pandey, General Manager, Marketing, ABG Cranes Limited, "for high end applications the quality of steel in cranes is of outmost importance owing to the heavier loads it will be lifting. In accordance with this, our distributed Yang Mao Fushun Machinery Manufacturing Company's tower cranes are manufactured with high tensile steel, better fabricated and have been built employing advanced welding technique. This in turn puts our cranes cost wise on the higher side as compared to other manufacturers." ABG makes Fushun tower cranes available with a lifting range from 3 tons-32 tons. It has recently delivered 2 tower cranes with a maximum loading capacity of 18 tons for power projects in the country.

Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
While increasing construction demand from core projects are putting requirement for tower cranes. Newer emerging construction requirement from real estate projects, the traditional application area of tower cranes would put the use of the machines in a big way. According to Mr. Ram Babu Cheruve, Director, Conmech Auto Consultants India Private Limited (CMAC), "in response to real estate firms and government's emphasis to construct affordable housing projects to beat the lull in the real estate markets, there are newer construction requirements, where the tower cranes would have to lift pre-cast slabs and place them on columns and pillars of the buildings.
Tower Cranes Making Their Mark
This is a newer application area which would see usage of tower cranes in a big way in real estate sector." As per Mr. Ram Babu, CMAC tower cranes are much applicable for high end application owing to their safety features and built up. He mentions, "since it is vital for tower cranes working at core infrastructure projects to be much safer, we provide tower cranes which has wide element of safety features, consisting adequate airlift warning lights, trolley travelling limiters and maximum and minimum load limiters. It also has an effective braking system that is fail safe with the brake automatically applied whenever there is a power failure or when there is a free falling of the hoisting loads."

CMAC, which provides on site training for smooth and safe functioning of its equipment provides its cranes manufactured from 235-345 steel grade. It has recently supplied tower cranes for construction of cement plant in Andhra Pradesh. The company has also supplied good number of tower cranes for multiplexes and shopping malls across the country apart from supplying tower cranes for construction of pre-casted fabricated building in Saudi Arabia.

Safety Aspects

Tower Cranes
Though tower cranes are proving their utility as an ideal support equipment in high end projects with safety features, it is quite important for construction companies adhere safety norms for accident free functioning of tower cranes in high end infrastructure projects as tower cranes are susceptible to accidents in infrastructure projects.

Fore most of the safety aspects that needs to be taken into account is the wind velocity in the vicinity of the infrastructure project. According to Mr.Ram Babu, "pressure due to high speed winds may lead the crane to derail or collapse. Hence before putting in the tower crane the wind velocity needs to be checked." Wind pressure in tower cranes are determined with anemometer where a crane operator can read the wind velocity. Cranes are safe to operate in wind velocities of upto 40 Kmph. Programme Logic Control Devices assist in automatically shutting down the crane when the wind velocity is exceeded.

Further according to Mr. Babu, "since tower cranes in infrastructure projects has to work in an increased heights, the foundation has to be strong through proper raw materials. No compromise has to be done in this account additionally, plumb line has to be perpendicular as slightest deviation from the same would render the working output inaccurate. Besides, anchoring support has to be quite strong."

The other safety precautions that need to be taken into proper consideration during the operation phase of tower cranes include, proper maintenance of the rail track on which the tower crane is working in infrastructure projects has to be ensured. It is quite essential to use little worn rail for proper bearing surface. Rails should be absolutely parallel and well bedded down on a solid base. Tracks should be earthen. It should be straight to prevent derailment of the tower cranes at the job site.

Moreover, while extending the height of the tower cranes precaution has to be observed. Also while working in clusters the site planning has to be done properly so as the cranes do not collide during their slewing operation. Most importantly, overloading should not be allowed under any circumstances as majority of accidents in tower cranes occur due to lack of proper information on loading or intentional overloading. However, the information on safety aspects should be provided by manufacturers and distributors. All these steps would lead to hazard free use of tower cranes in infrastructure projects. Not to mention their increased use for the time to come.
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