Although activity levels in the tower crane sector are high, rental companies should be aware that market conditions can change. This message was voiced by two industry experts at the Tower Cranes North America (TCNA) Conference held June 18-19 in Miami.
Keynote speaker Christian Chalupny, president of Morrow Equipment, said he was reasonably confident that the market would remain strong for the next 18 to 24 months, but that the market operates in cycles and that a slowdown will come.
“There is an increasing acceptance of tower cranes in North America, when compared to 10 or 20 years ago,” Chalupny said. “We seeing an increasing demand for tower cranes as people realize the economics of the tower crane.”
Maxim Crane COO Frank Bardonaro said the work pipeline is strong, but he but sounded a cautionary note by citing the confidence and investment in the run up to the 2008 crash. He said rental companies need to be aware of the value of their services, the expertise of their staff, and charge rates that reflect this.
Another area of keen debate was the use of hook block cameras. During a roundtable discussion, Billy Smith of NBIS challenged Peter Hird of BlokCam and Chris Machut of HoistCam on the use of cameras, claiming that they could leave crane operators and crane companies legally exposed in the event of accidents. Both Hird and Machut made strong arguments for the use of these devices.
Meanwhile, Peter Juhren of Morrow, and chair of the SC&RA’s tower crane committee, outlined how crane companies should prepare their tower cranes for hurricanes and other severe weather events. He emphasized the need to prepare well in advance. “If you start preparing only when a weather warning is issued, then it is already too late,” he said.
A key theme of the event was the challenges that taller buildings and faster construction schedules have on tower crane suppliers. Both Wolffkran and Terex Cranes described some of the technical solutions they are developing with customers to adapt to the demands of contractors.
Liebherr’s Marco Guariglia reported on the company’s fiber rope technology, which he said would extend rope life and increase crane lifting capacity.
Presentations can be downloaded from the conference website at www.khl-tcna.com. The conference was organized by KHL Group and its magazines American Cranes & Transport and International Cranes and Specialized Transport and supported by event partner SC&RA. International Tower Cranes will be held in Vienna, Austria on May 8-9, 2019.