Tower Cranes Manufacturers Think Big

Tower Cranes
Tower cranes manufacturers are making larger and heavier capacity tower cranes, adaptable to varied construction job requirements, P.P.Basistha reports.

New emerging construction methods and newer application areas are making tower cranes manufacturers in India depart from manufacturing and distributing standard products. The new demand order brought by further mechanization of construction activities, is putting requirement of tower cranes that are able to lift heavier loads and yet be more productive and affordable to own and operate. Manufacturers see the transitional development as much positive for business to grow as demand for lighter and medium capacity cranes have been slowing down in the recent years.

Sheetal Malik
Although with slowdown in construction activities across the world and in India, there are not much supply side constraints with average lead times in supplying the new variants of cranes remaining comfortable. However, ability to provide the custom built heavier capacity cranes 'just in time', precisely suited to the job site requirements is a new challenge for manufacturers. This is as because larger and heavier capacities of tower cranes cannot be made over night. That is why when ECEL-Linden Comansa will receive fresh orders for supplying the tower cranes, it will be ready to supply cranes that exactly fit to the work site requirement.
Tower Cranes Manufacturers
According to Mr. Sheetal Malik, General Manager (Sales and Marketing) of Escorts Construction Equipment Ltd, "Compressed work schedules do not necessarily give enough time to construction clients to design, build and test, erect and finally dismantle the custom made cranes at the sites and that is where manufacturers were able to supply tailor made products created through necessary R&D will score upon."

Comansa globally has a prominent position as a supplier of Flat Top and Luffing jib tower cranes. The range of Comansa cranes distributed in India comprises 5-64 tons. One of the prominent productive features of the Comansa cranes is its ability to self-dismantle the jib, piece by piece from astronomical heights without bringing the crane down on the ground. "In this way, the construction cost is neutralized to a big extent as the contractor will not require a separate crane to dismantle the jib. Getting a separate crane at job sites can be cumbersome and expensive, especially if the site is crammed, uneven and difficult to access," says Mr.Malik. ECEL is the exclusive distributor of Linden Comansa and Comansa Jie range of tower cranes in India. Comansa cranes can be made available upto a free standing height of 100 metres. ECEL has made a target to sell 25-30 numbers of Comansa Cranes during 2012 as compared to 12 (18 tons-12 tons-8 tons) units sold previous year. These numbers are expected to go up if there is a recovery of Indian economy which as per Mr. Malik is expected after Oct 2012. Comansa cranes marketed in India are sourced either from Comansa Jie facility in China or their flagship facility in Spain depending upon the requirements of the customers.

Comansa Cranes
Mr. Malik says, "the unique selling proposition of our cranes is completely based on its range competitive features. Notable among which is removable jacking cage provision. With single jacking cage available, heights of other Comansa cranes working at the same sites can be increased or decreased, thereby leading to cost savings." He points out, "Comansa cranes require less jacking as the mast size is 5.5 metres. This gives better productivity and safe operation." ECEL has supplied Comansa flat top cranes to BGR Energy Systems Limited for construction of 202 metres high cooling towers with a 148 mtrs diameter which is the largest Cooling Tower constructed in the world. This Cooling Tower has been completed in a record time by BGR using Comanas Jie 18T class Flat top tower crane.

Sheetal Malik
Ability to deliver higher productivity is the major demand determinant of tower cranes in big size, complex and cost intensive projects. This is if the project is an industrial (refinery projects with many trains) or power project both pertaining to thermal and hydro projects. Most of the tower cranes manufacturers are of the opinion that quality of steel (95% of the component) of tower cranes allows the crane to deliver higher productivity.Superior quality of steel used in the tower cranes neutralizes possible impact on the mast and jib of the crane during erection, functioning (lifting or slewing) or dismantling. According to Mr. Rajeev Kumar, CEO- Crane Division, DSC Trading & Services, "the higher capacity Italian made FM Gru brand of tower cranes distributed by us is made of 'CE FEM 1001 A4' group of steel.

Flat top tower crane
The A4 group of superior steel used in the cranes provides them an extended life during the job and even much beyond."

DSC exclusively distributes 5-45 tons of FM Gru tower cranes in India. There are four different ranges of products: RBI Series – Hydraulically operated Mobile crane up to 40 mtr Jib and lifting capacity up to 1.5tn at tip; TLX Series – Flat top cranes 1 – 45 tn lifting capacity; TCK Series – 50 – 80 mtr Jib with up to 45 tn lifting capacity and lastly LK series – luffing cranes with 60 mtr Jib and 45 tn lifting capacity.

FM Gru engineers can design cranes according to the client requirement. FM Gru is a world wide company in production of tower cranes – established in 1926.

FM gru construction cranes, are of standard range and normally modified in many ways to suit the particular application and customer requirements, different from case to case, and can be easily inserted in both new and already existing industrial plants and operating circles.

Quality complies with the main international directives (ISO, IEC, DIN, CNR, UNI, FEM). Strong, sturdy and well sized mechanisms allow the structural characteristic of a well defined products to be used in the best possible way.

Mr. Kumar says, "FM Gru high capacity cranes are most applicable to power projects for lifting and erecting pre-fabricated parts of the buildings. But moreover, the cranes are affordable to own and operate given its features to undertake preventive maintenance aided by the black box. The black box stores the data on the performance of the crane which can be then evaluated to undertake preventive maintenance. The cranes are equipped with digital display control systems. For feasibility of the cranes to function in uneven power projects and industrial sites, five different foundations options are provided for the units. Foundations options are also provided according to the frequency of shifting of the cranes during the course of the projects. Besides, the cranes come with self-dismantling mechanism for the jib at a height of 100 and 200 metres to cut down on operating expenses and they require lesser number of trailers to transport the jib and masts."

FM Gru has sold 8 number tower cranes ever since it entered into indian market.

New Demand From Power Build

Thermal power project construction is one of the newer application areas for high capacity tower cranes which are increasingly finding application in larger size super critical power projects above 660 MW and beyond. Project developers say that the cranes provide viability to the project construction.

Now, according to the demand situation, the construction component of a typical 2X 660 subcritical unit consists of setting up of turbine generator (TG) building, boilers plant, electrostatic precipitators unit, transformers and switch yards which connects the station to the main grid. High capacity tower cranes are used for erecting the casing in which the generators are inserted. The weight of the casing and generators are approximately 300 tons. The cranes on certain occasions, based on requirement tower cranes are used for tandem lifting. The TG building is divided into two bays A-B bay and B-C bay. The A-B bay has a height of 17 meters housing the ground floor, mezzanine floor and operating floor (housing the structures for the generators) while the B-C bay has a height of 32 metres. Tower cranes are used for erecting the structures apart from lifting the turbines and generators. The distance between both the bays being small tower cranes are used for making construction viable. However, according to Mr. Suvendu Basak, Senior Design Engineer, Lanco "different mobile variants may also be used depending upon the requirement of the client. Tower cranes may be used in other areas of the project as well based on the lifting plan for erection in between the sites where distance is less." Tower cranes are also used to erect the electrostatic precipitators having a height of 20-35 metres housing the ash chambers.

Mr. Basak a veteran in power plant design points out, "though the tower cranes can be used in giving viability to the project construction. However, there are not much agreed construction norms practiced in India, as of now where pre- feasibility on the nature of tower cranes or other nature of cranes to be used in the projects are precisely evaluated for the plant construction. One of the major reasons behind the same is the practice of undertaking modular design has not evolved in a big way for power projects as practiced in advanced countries." However, he notes, "with engineering and investment optimization in focus for setting up super critical plants by putting up 2 number of generators and other supporting operating units for per 660 and above capacities (2x660) or 2x700 configuration, tower cranes have been found to value to the construction."

Sheetal Malik
Based on emerging requirement from thermal power projects, equipment manufacturers see it as a new business opportunity. According to Mr. Arun Bishnoi, Country Head, Tower Cranes, Action Construction Equipment, "SCM Chinese tower cranes imported by us have been used by Lanco for its different thermal power projects. BHEL has used the cranes for its Vizag power project. The cranes have been used for erection of boilers and turbines."ACE has supplied 20, 40 and 50 tons tower cranes to Lanco. ACE makes tower cranes available comprising lifting configuration of 6-10-12-16-20-25-40-50-80-100 tons. It manufactures 6 tons at its facility near Delhi while the other variants are imported from SCM.

Action Construction Equipment
Mr. Bishnoi says, "the cranes are economical to own and operate in power as well as industrial projects where frequent shifting of the cranes are required.The masts of our cranes are made of special seamless steel tubes. The seamless design of the masts makes the cranes durable giving it an extended life. Bending distortions do not take place in the masts when the cranes are dismantled and transported." He added,"We have also supplied Luffing Jib Tower cranes to M/s LODHA in Mumba. This requirement will also grow in future as lot of Real Estate Companies will be coming up with highrise buildings/skyscrappers."

Heavier capacity tower cranes for power projects and also for precast construction projects, cement plants and shipbuilding are supplied by Liebherr in India. The units are imported from Liebherr's European factories. According to Mr. David Griffin, Representative Director, Liebherr India, "we note growing demand for heavier machines with pre-cast projects becoming prevalent. In this segment, we typicallyproject our 16 &20 tons machines. Power station projects are one of the major areas that demand heavy duty towercranes."

Heavier capacity tower cranes
Liebherr claims to score over other contemporary product offerings in heavier capacity class through its ability to offer customized tower cranes for high capacity and complex jobs. Mr. Griffin says, "our tower cranes are designed with optimal modularity and performance parameters from the outset. We havethe largestserial products range and capacity to manufacture several thousandsunits per year viaour state-of-the-art tower cranes factories. Of course, there are options which may be selected by the client to match special site requirements. These may be remote diagnostic functionality, working area limitation, anti-collision systems as well as many more special features. The cranes may be installed stationary or rail-going, even on a portal. We have solutions for desired application requirement."

On economy in assembling and dismantling the cranes, Mr. Griffin comments, "efficiency and compactnessfor transport is integral in our design. We strive to make as many parts as possible to accommodate in a single container, evenwith respect tothe larger cranes. This is in order to reduce transportation costs and to expedite the faster transport. Safety is also a derivative of our design."

Realty Gets Taller & Wider

S. K. Malve
Newer products placements in tower cranes are being characterized even from emerging pattern in real estate construction. "147-240 meters height and beyond in real estate residential and commercial construction is becoming common in Mumbai. The trend is catching up in Delhi and even Chennai with real estate heights reported to be at 147-165 meters," comments Mr. S.K. Malve, Director Technical, Anupam Industries Limited. Anupam sells hammer head tower cranes from Alfa of Italy co branded as Anupam-Alfa. 5-6 tons are the two variants of tower cranes being marketed by Anupam. "Maximum lifting capacity of 5 tons @ 15 meters working radius and 1.25 tons at 54 meters jib length and 6 tons @ 16 meters working radius and minimum of 1.4 ton at 60 meters jib length gives maximum area coverage to real estate construction projects. The cycle time of the cranes is not more than five minutes, making them ideal for high riserealty projects," says Mr. Malve.

demand for flat top tower cranes
He informs, "with option of undercarriage, the cranes can be well used in large number of real estate construction projects taking place in clusters. The provision can provide much viability to realty construction projects." Anupam has supplied tower cranes to a big size real estate project in Nashik equipped with undercarriage provision.

Tower cranes for wider site coverage have also been supplied by European crane manufacturing major Liebherr. According to Mr. David Griffin, "we are supplying such cranes in internal and external climbing configurations with 1–1.3 ton tip loads at 50m radius. We have supplied these cranes for projects around India with projects in Mumbai and Delhi of particular note,featuring end hook heights up to 210m in respect of the internal climbing variation. In fact, our 71 EC-Bi and 85EC-Bi cranes are equipped with hoist gear to attain up to 278m end hook height." He adds, "we see a continued large demand for flat top tower cranes in 5 ton capacity category in India for real estate construction." The 5 ton 71 EC-Bi 5 and the 85 EC-Bi 5 cranes are beinglocalised by Liebherr at its Pune plant.

Mentioning further Mr. Griffin says, "we have even supplied several 10 ton capacity machines to projects inMumbaiwith internal climbing configuration which will reach end hook heights of up to 360m. These projects are for real estate and commercial developments and feature both the 202EC-B 10 Litronic and 200EC-H 10 FR.tronic crane models in internal climbing configuration."

Based on the newer construction requirements for heavier lifting, demand of higher capacities of tower cranes is relatively new development in India. The trend is quite encouraging as it is well likely to make construction viable.

NBMCW July 2012

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