In future, we should expect auxiliary attachments to join safety and productivity-enhancing features as key drivers of crane demand, concludes CW.
In early 2016, it was expected that tower cranes and mobile cranes would grow disproportionately vis-a-vis other construction equipment, driven by increased investments in real-estate projects. Did this pan out?
Well, demand for mobile cranes - accounting for 9 per cent of construction equipment, about 5,500 machines - is expected to touch 6,800 by 2020, growing at over 40 per cent. Growth is slower in other crane segments, tower, crawler, etc. ´Real estate has not seen the expected revival, so the demand for tower cranes remains low,´ says Manoj Agarwal, Head-Sales & Marketing, Escorts - Construction Equipment.
´Demand has increased but owing to aggressive Chinese marketing strategy -offering low prices and long financing support - the advantage to Liebherr was not in the same proportion,´ shares Ajay Kumar Somani, Director, Mobile Crane Division, Liebherr India.
Sector snap: Active, with potential
Overall market movements - especially beyond expectation growth in demand for excavators and backhoe loaders - augur well for cranes. Crane demand usually follows the trend set by this production equipment, after a lag. As Agarwal says, ´We expect utilisation levels to increase by almost 40 per cent in the next few years (running into the next general elections).´ Great momentum in the road sector, which has potential, is spurring demand for cranes, he adds.
´We expect metro and power projects to open up fast.´ ´Wind power and metro projects are creating demand for our cranes,´ says Somani. In future, he expects nuclear power, metro and flyover construction projects to raise demand.
And Christophe Simoncelli, Vice President, Tower Crane Sales, Asia and the Middle East, Manitowoc, says, ´We´re seeing high levels of activity in road building; as these projects progress, we expect to see increased demand for tower cranes in bridge building applications.´
With road building work on the rise, David Semple, Senior Vice President, Mobile Cranes, Asia and the Middle East, Manitowoc, expects demand for Grove rough-terrain cranes to increase as well.´Greater activity in the mining industry will also hopefully lead to increased demand for Grove rough-terrain cranes and all-terrain cranes as well as Manitowoc crawler cranes,´ he says.
´We have seen good growth in the past three years in the mobile and crawler crane market, which we expect to continue for three to four years,´ says Saeesh Nevrekar, Director, Sales and Service, Terex Cranes. ´Renewable energy projects, especially the windmill industry, road and bridge construction, cement plants, steel plants, refinery projects and nuclear power plants, will spur demand for cranes in coming years.´
Indian customers have always sought value-for-money products. Now, they are more conscious about safety, according to Agarwal.
´Safety load indicators that mainly depend on operational radius and height help avoid mishaps from operating the crane beyond its designated capacity,´ says Vijay Choudhary, a P&M specialist in Pune. ´Intelligent fault diagnosis with auto alerts for maintenance is also useful; this feature checks the functioning of brakes, engine or prime mover against the OEM specifications.´
Safety is a key driver of crane intelligence. A Top Tracing II anti-collision programme allows owners of Potain tower cranes to preset working limitations for cranes to improve safety.
Terex Cranes offers the IC-1 Plus intelligent system to support working space (radii, height) limitation to avoid site collisions and review slewing angle-related capacities on mobile cranes, to avoid the possibility of unsymmetrical outrigger settings.
Camera systems help monitor winches and the vicinity of the vehicle when travelling or the load when moving. Additionally, the five-axle Demag all-terrain cranes family includes an axle load monitoring system, displayed in the carrier cabin.
´In-demand safety features include safe load indicators, cabins fitted with LCD display cameras for a complete view, proximity sensors, wheel guards, deration of the load lifting capacity of the crane as it is articulated, and telematics with GPRS,´ adds Agarwal.
Machine intelligence also spans technologies to optimise lifts and performance. ´All our cranes (Grove, Manitowoc and Potain) offer the CraneSTAR remote diagnostics technology that automatically gathers crane performance data; this can be accessed via any Internet-enabled device,´ says Semple.
Another intelligent feature of the Potain tower crane is the variable frequency technology included on the mechanisms. ´We offer variable frequency technology for our hoist, trolley and slewing mechanisms on Potain tower cranes, which automatically adjusts the speed of the load to the requirements of the lift,´ says Simoncelli.
Grove mobile cranes, meanwhile, offer a lift adjustment feature - the Boom Configurator Mode - within the new Crane Control System operating programme, which is a highly intuitive technology for the quick and easy selection of optimum boom position for a specific lift.
´All the operator needs to do is input the lift parameters - radius, load and distance to be moved - and the system calculates the best boom configuration,´ explains Semple. ´Once the operator selects the preferred option, the boom automatically extends to the required length.´
Other in-demand features
Liebherr counts VarioBase, VarioBallast and Eco mode as new in-demand features, according to Somani. ´Space constraints at many Indian sites and running plants are spurring demand for VarioBase and VarioBallast.´
VarioBase allows the crane to be installed on outriggers of variable length and still work at full capacity by the extension of individual outriggers. And, VarioBallast allows the crane to use counterweight at different radius with the crane itself changing the radius. The eco mode is a fuel-saving feature.
Extending crane functionality
Auxiliary attachments allow users to do more with an existing crane. According to Agarwal, attachments are not very popular as of now but will be sought after in future as customers wake up to the savings from deploying one crane for a variety of applications.
Pad-fitted crawler cranes to work within city limits
A first for Liebherr in India will be the use of a crawler telescopic boom for a metro project -´chosen for its ability to move with a load´, says Ajay Kumar Somani, Director, Mobile Crane Division, Liebherr India. ´This will allow the crane to perform jobs equivalent to tyre-mounted telescopic boom cranes of almost double capacity.´
´A crawler crane with a telescopic boom combines the stability and compact size of a crawler crane with the mobility and positioning advantages of a mobile crane with a mounted boom,´ explains NB Raju, Head of Purchasing, NCC (formerly Nagarjuna Construction Co) ´As crawler cranes do not have outriggers that need to be closed before marching, they can move faster. We expect the crane to help place metro segments accurately, speedily and comfortably. An added advantage is that the crawler crane can be fitted with polyamide pads that will ensure it does not damage city roads, and hence can be used within city limits, unlike most crawler cranes.´
- Charu Bahri
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