Business booming

29 April 2008

Terex unveiled the new CC 2800-1 NT (narrow track) in June in Germany. The narrow width makes it sui

Terex unveiled the new CC 2800-1 NT (narrow track) in June in Germany. The narrow width makes it suitable for travelling to erect wind turbines.

Sales of all-terrain (AT) cranes worldwide continue to grow and this type of machine has become the crane of choice in the majority of mobile crane rental fleets. Worldwide, more than 10000 AT units have been sold in the last five years. The fastest growing sector is the 100 tonne class with an estimated 20% of the total, approaching double its 2004 share.

Product development in the AT sector has been mainly concentrated in the busy 80 to 120 tonnes capacity range, with a host of new launches from several manufacturers in the last year. Strong competition between manufacturers is well illustrated in this capacity class and the most recent example is four-axle 100 tonners, with Terex-Demag and Grove both announcing such machines at the Intermat exhibition in Paris earlier this year.

Grove announced its new four-axle AT, the GMK4100 (GMK4115 in the US) at Intermat in April. It is a new design, Grove says, and has a 52 m six-section Megaform boom with Twin-Lock pinning. A 10 to 17 m bi-fold swingaway jib is available, and two additional 5 m inserts further increase jib length. Maximum tip height is 82 m.

The GMK4100 can travel below 12 tonnes per axle with 6.3 tonnes of counterweight, together with the bi-fold swingaway jib, a 16 tonne hook block, and riding on 16.00 R25 tyres. Maximum counterweight is 26.1 tonnes.

Competing with the GMK4100 is the new 100 tonne capacity Terex-Demag AC 100/4. The four axle AT will be seen in iron for the first time at the Bauma exhibition in Germany next year. It will have a five section 50 m pinned boom for a strong lifting chart. At a 10 m radius with the boom fully extended, the preliminary chart shows it will lift 12 tonnes. Maximum boom and jib combination will be 69 m.

Some of the smaller manufacturers have released new models in the busy under 100 tonnes capacity class too. Luna in Spain unveiled the first production version of its new 90 tonne capacity model – the AT90/58 – earlier this year after showing a prototype at the SMOPyC exhibition in March 2004. The manufacturer claims that the crane's 58 m boom, which can be extended to 79 m with the addition of an 18 m offsettable jib, is the longest in its class.

Another new 80 tonner is the Grove GMK4080-1, a replacement for the 75 tonne capacity GMK4075-1. The GMK4080-1 will pick 6.6 tonnes with its six section Twin-Lock Megaform boom fully extended to 51 m and set at a radius of 20 m. With a hydraulic luffing jib and 6 m extension, the maximum tip height is 75 m.

The GMK4080-1 can be configured in 'Taxi' or 'Maxi' modes. In Taxi mode, it is below the important 12 tonnes per axle limit with 9.3 tonnes of counterweight, a 15 m hydraulic swingaway jib, 16 tonne hook block and 16.00 R25 tyres. In Maxi configuration, capability is increased by an extra 6 m hydraulic swingaway jib insert and counterweight to a maximum of 19.3 tonnes.

Big hitters

Moving to the very top of the lifting chart, Liebherr and Terex-Demag have both announced new 1000 tonne capacity wheeled mobile units in the past year.

With a maximum load moment of around 3000 tonne-metres, the nine axle AC 1000/9 will be the world's strongest boom-on wheeled telescopic crane, said Klaus Meissner, Terex-Demag research and development director.

It will travel with its 50 m boom and front outrigger on 16.00 R25 tyres at 12 tonnes per axle. Minimum and maximum outrigger base spreads will be 10 x 10 m and 13.5 x 13.5 m. The maximum luffing fly jib will be 126 m.

The AC 1000/9 will be available in 2008 and a boom-off version is under consideration, Mr Meissner said. Terex-Demag announced the new crane during a customer event at its Zweibrücken factory in Germany on 28 July.

Under development at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen in Germany is the nine axle LTM 11000-9.1. Rumour has it that there will be two telescopic boom options – a long one (as the engineering design develops it is getting longer than the initially projected 60 m) and a short one for use with a luffing jib. The new crane will be seen in iron for the first time at Bauma 2007.

Some way down the capacity scale, Tadano Faun launched its largest ever model this year, the 220 tonne capacity ATF 220G-5. The five axle crane has a 68 m, seven-section telescopic boom that can be extended under partial load.

Its 220 tonne maximum capacity is at 2.5 m radius over the rear, while at 3.0 m it is 182.5 tonnes through 360°. Preliminary information shows it will pick 30.4 tonnes at 20 m radius and 3.9 tonnes at 60 m and maximum counterweight is 71 tonnes.

Backlog bother

Increased orders and a shortage of steel and other components, most notably tyres, have created a situation where buyers are left waiting up to a year for a new crane to be delivered. The consensus among manufacturers and buyers at Intermat this year was that a wait of between eight and 12 months for a new crane had become the norm.

The waiting time means that buyers are snapping up any used cranes on the market almost immediately. Cedric Jandet, marketing coordinator at international auctioneers Ritchie Bros., said that cranes at the company's auctions are one of the best sellers, with customers logging on through the internet to join the bidding. “Most of the buyers are from India or the Middle East,” he said, “and they are buying any cranes that we have available.”

Wolfgang Pfister, head of marketing at Liebherr Werk-Nenzing, has noticed the increase in demand for used machines, “As soon as a crane becomes available,” he said, “it is sold almost immediately.”

This is echoed by Tom McCallum, director of industrial crane sales and crane remarketing at Manitowoc, “The market for used cranes is the best I've seen it in 10 years or more. Everyone is selling everything they can get their hands on.”

Mark Phillipi, asset manager at Terex Cranes, said that the reason his company got involved in the used crane market is the high demand for new cranes. “Virtually every manufacturer is working off a backlog – there are a lot of new crane sales but not a lot of new crane deliveries,” he said. “Production is stretched out so far that availability is driving the prices of used cranes up. Most customers can't wait six months for a crane. So they start looking for something used.”

Crawler developments

Around 20 new crawler cranes have been announced over the last year or so. Close to half of those are models with telescopic booms and of the remainder, all of which have lattice booms, all but three are above 200 tonnes capacity. That means nearly ten new medium and high capacity lattice crawler models.

Driving the worldwide demand for larger crawlers are power generation and petrochemical expansion and renewal projects. For these what is in especially high demand are crawlers with lifting capacities of 1000 tonnes and higher, according to Terex-Demag.

Manufacturers say the booming regions are Asia, the Middle East and the US. Europe is also good, where, for example, Spain and the UK are gaining, according to Terex-Demag. Similarly, Liebherr's best market is Asia, mainly China but “we also see India developing very well,” a company spokesman said. The strongest relative growth is the Near- and Middle East, due to the huge infrastructure projects, for example, in Dubai.

For the future, the view at Liebherr is that “We see a slight increase for North and South America, a stronger increase for Asia, mainly for India. In Europe we do not expect demand to increase.”

Manufacturers are offering, or are being asked to develop, larger cranes to handle larger and heavier loads but they still need to be easy and economical to move around. “Crane operators and the industry in general want bigger and bigger crawler cranes without sacrificing flexibility,” explained Dr Ulrich Hamme, engineering director at Liebherr-Werk Ehingen in Germany. This flexibility that is key to the success of large crawler cranes is easy and fast transport, set up and dismantling.

At the top of Liebherr's range is the 1350 tonne (initially projected as a 1250 tonne) capacity LR 11350. On the potential for an even larger model, Hans-Georg Frey, managing director of Liebherr-Werk Ehingen in Germany, said, “We are now pushing this machine into the market and will take it from here. We see what the competition has done, and it is natural to increase capacity. Look at the [750 tonne capacity Liebherr] LR 1750; a few years ago nobody would have thought about such machines but now this is the normal development and we will also go higher.

“It is too early to be concrete in this regard but we are looking at the higher class to see if it makes sense. These are big beasts and only a certain number of these machines are needed in the world.”

Commenting on Terex Cranes' position in the crawler sector, president Steve Filipov explained, “We are the market leader in crawlers – in product line and in market share. We have the [Terex American] IHI from 50 to 275 tonnes, then the Demag takes over. Demag goes from 300 tonnes all the way up to the new model, the 3000 tonne [CC 8800 Twin]. We just sold one of those in the Middle East. We have a pretty good product line in crawlers worldwide, not only in North America. The Demag is selling well in the higher capacities.”

And higher capacities is where Terex-Demag's focus has been in its latest models, starting with the 400 tonne capacity CC 2400-1 announced last October. Following this was a tranche of new heavy lifters announced in November 2005. These included the CC 5800, CC 6800, CC 8800 Twin and the CC 2800-1 NT.

The 1000 tonne capacity CC 5800, shown in iron for the first time last November, is claimed by Terex-Demag to be the strongest in the 3 m-wide transport class. The CC 6800 is an upgrade for the CC 5800. Adding a 3.5 m wide boom increases capacity to 1250 tonnes. Boom and jib configurations can be increased to give a maximum tip height of 260 m.

Also announced was a major upgrade, using stronger boom sections, of the 1250 tonne capacity CC 8800, which results in a basic capacity of 1600 tonnes on the CC 8800-1. The CC 8800 Twin combines two CC 8800s, increasing maximum capacity to 3200 tonnes. As its name suggests, the CC 8800 Twin is a twin boom system interconnected horizontally.

The new CC 2800-1 NT in the 600 tonne class can relocate on site fully rigged. The 3.8 m-wide undercarriage has front and rear outriggers and one each side for extra sideways stability and these fold up to the crane upper for narrow access. The centre of gravity, at 7.3 m, is relatively low, the manufacturer says.

Major US-based crawler manufacturer Manitowoc builds crawlers up to 907 tonnes capacity (the distinctive Model 21000 with eight crawler units), and many of its large crawler cranes work on power plant and petrochemical projects around the world. A recent example is a 600 tonne capacity (750 tonnes with its Maxer attachment) Model 18000 playing a key role in conversion work at the Torre Nord power plant in Civitavecchia, Italy. The 18000 will lift all the major components, including the steam turbines and the steel structures that support them.

Another large Manitowoc crawler making a name for itself in power generation is the 16000, seen outside the US for the first time earlier this year. “The Model 16000 is fast establishing itself as the lifting industry's first choice for wind turbine installation projects,” explained Allen Kadow, Manitowooc Crane Group (MCG) product marketing manager for lattice boom cranes. “As the demand for renewable energy sources grows across the world, I am certain that the Model 16000 will remain at the forefront.”

Down the range

Under development by Kobelco Cranes is an improved version of the Japanese manufacturer's 250 tonne capacity crawler crane, called the 7250-2. By increasing counterweight from 100 to 110 tonnes, the maximum load moment increases +15% from the 1018 tonne-metres of the existing 7250 model to 1177 tonne-metres on the new 7250-2.

This increase, coupled with new longer, stronger boom and jib sections, will increase lifting performance across the chart. Looking down the capacity range, new from Hitachi Sumitomo is the 275 tonne SCX 2800-2, while new from Kobelco this year is the 250 tonne capacity CKE 2500-2, an upgrade of the 2500. Last year in China Zoomlion launched the 200 tonne capacity QUY200 and in the US Link-Belt launched its 110 US ton (100 tonne) capacity 218 HSL.

Further down the capacity scale another new model from China last year was the 70 tonne capacity Zoomlion QUY70. New heavy duty models include the 80 tonne capacity Hitachi Sumitomo SCX800 HD-2 and the 50 tonne capacity Liebherr HS 835 HD.

Product development in the crawler sector is continuing across the capacity range. Mr Hamme at Liebherr said, “Other types of crawler crane are at the development, modification or planning stages. The necessary capital expenditure and investment in personnel and materials have already been approved and implemented for the realisation of these ambitious expansion objectives.”

Buoyancy

The current global construction boom, particularly in hot-spots like China, India, the US and Middle East, has clearly provided a massive boost to the world's crane manufacturers. It has in-turn prompted new models to be developed and has seen the launch of better, more efficient cranes in both the AT and crawler sectors.

But the downside is that it is still very difficult for contractors and crane rental companies to get their hands on these machines. Waiting times are still too high, and the demand for used machines is such that a crane around one or two years old can achieve the same sale price as a brand new machine.

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