The darlings of high-rise construction, tower cranes fulfill a specialized need in the realm of construction lifting. They are efficient, cost effective and the choice crane when it comes to vertical construction in tight spaces. The market for tower cranes can be fickle, which is why the major players navigate the current strong market cautiously. Maxim Crane Works has one of the largest tower crane fleets in North America, and the company is strategic in its business development and tower crane buying process.
“The tower crane market is fairly stable in the United States,” said Frank Bardonaro, COO of Maxim. “We see enough backlog and quoting activity into 2019 that makes us feel bullish through the rest of next year.”
However, Bardonaro cautioned, “We also see some of the same problems that occurred in late 2006-2008 starting to show up. By that, I mean that some people and companies who have never been in the tower crane rental business are deciding to ‘jump in,’ and that is causing excess supply and downward pricing pressures. We all love healthy competition, but it does cause concern when a new player thinks it is easy money and just throws a half dozen or so new cranes into an already saturated region. We just hope that customers and rental houses are more fiscally responsible than during the last bull market as it pertains to capex decisions and ROI requirements.”
Flat is good
Bardonaro expects the tower crane market in 2019 to be fairly flat as compared to 2018. “Flat is good at this pace and we look for a solid performance into 2020 unless more cranes are dumped into the markets,” he said.
ALL Erection Crane Rental is also a major player in the tower crane market in North America.
“Savvy, interconnected and constantly evolving.” This is how Sam Moyer, P.E., general manager ALL Tower Crane, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, characterizes the tower crane market.
“The industry as a whole is growing in awareness of the options available,” he said. “Our customers make informed decisions: considering crane sizing and placement earlier in the project cycle, reviewing multiple crane types, sizes, placements and considering the impacts of those decisions on project execution and profitability.”
Moyer said that in some cases, customers are purchasing tower cranes where they would have only considered renting.
“The opposite is also true,” he said. “As those decisions stack up, you see mini-trends in approach in markets. In some instances, those trends gain traction in other markets or sectors provided they make sense. As a crane supplier, it is a fascinating privilege to play a role in this progression.”
Moyer thinks 2019 has strong potential to be another high-demand year for tower cranes.
“We are constantly monitoring our fleet utilization and making adjustments as the marketplace drives growth and reallocation,” he said. “Judging by the number of requests for quotes and committed units, I expect at least a similar pace of controlled growth from the last several years to continue throughout 2019.”
In the markets that ALL Tower Crane serves, the top-slewing hammerhead tower cranes are the most active and most often quoted crane types, Moyer said.
“We are also seeing a fair amount of growth in demand for our smaller offerings including small- to mid-sized luffing jib tower cranes and self-erecting tower cranes,” Moyer said. “I attribute this to the project types, delivery schedules and informed hoisting decisions by our customers.”
Bigge Crane & Rigging’s Jesse Sullivan, sales manager of Bigge’s tower and hoist division, characterized the market as strong, with several regions continuing to grow. Residential/mixed-use seems to be the leading type of project. Sullivan expects to see the demand at a similar pace in 2019.
RMS Crane & Rigging, a division of TNT Crane & Rigging, serves the western United States.
According to Dennis (Whitey) Lebsack, business development manager, tower cranes, the tower crane market is strong and growing. He attributes this to a lack of space on jobsites to put conventional cranes in.
“Things are going taller, and you have a lot of infield work, especially in the city areas with a lot of tall buildings around you. A luffing jib tower crane is coming into the market strong,” Lebsack said.
Jobsite productivity is another reason for tower crane market growth, according to the RMS team.
“I think tower cranes, for builders and general contractors, are certainly the preferred and most efficient crane or hoist they can use on a job,” said Cody Gilliland, CEO, RMS Cranes. “The productivity is just so much greater that it’s really become the crane of choice for lifting on new jobsites.”
ACT surveyed across the tower crane industry for updates on the machines decorating America’s skylines.
Favelle Favco Cranes introduced its first fully electric crane into the U.S. market in early 2018. The MK440E has the same load charts as the current diesel hydraulic version M440E, which has been around the last 20 years. What separates the MK440E from the competition is that it has two winches. The MK440E has 110,000-pounds capacity on the main and 22,000 pounds capacity on the fly. Just like the M440E, the MK440E can be used for both steel and concrete construction.
Unknown to many people, Favelle Favco Cranes has been manufacturing electric cranes for a long time. However, the company said customers have always preferred the diesel hydraulic units, especially in New York City, where most of these cranes are operating.
Many electric cranes are run by diesel generators that can consume as much as twice the diesel requirement for a diesel hydraulic tower crane. Nevertheless, there are projects where electric cranes have an edge, and this is where the Favelle Favco electric cranes can fill the gap, the company said. Another factor that may be encouraging the use of electric cranes is they are environmentally friendly. The latest Favco diesel hydraulic crane uses a CAT Tier 4 engine which has 99 percent less harmful emissions as compared to a CAT Tier 1 engine produced in 1996, the company said.
Signifying the importance of the luffing jib tower crane design to its product line, Terex Cranes recently introduced the new Terex CTL 272-18 luffing jib tower crane that boasts a 10 percent increase in jib length over the previous class model. The new CTL 272-18 features a 200-foot maximum jib length, 270 ton-meter load moment and maximum full-length load of 2.9 tons. The crane’s unique Terex Power Plus feature can temporarily increase the maximum load moment under specific and controlled conditions (e.g. reduced dynamics) by 10 percent, giving the operator extra lifting capacity.
Seven different jib configurations from 98.4 to 200 feet on this new Terex crane give contractors the flexibility to meet a range of jobsite reach needs. Equipped with an independent safety line, all jib sections of the new CTL 272-18 deliver safe work at height, plus galvanized jib walkways provide long-lasting and dependable service life. The crane’s 19-foot counter jib boasts multiple job angles to meet demanding in-service and out-of-service conditions, according to the company. The new CTL 272-18 offers a 276-foot maximum freestanding height. The flexible tower design can be configured using a combination of the
The new Terex CTL 272-18 boasts a 10 percent increase in jib length.
6.2-foot H20, 7.5-foot HD23 and the 7.8-foot TS212 tower masts, allowing customers to efficiently manage tower section inventory and cost-effectively meet tower needs at multiple sites.The new CTL 272-18 luffing jib tower crane can be equipped with several advanced options to give more flexibility to the owner for crane configuration. The crane is compatible for the next generation of Terex tower telematics, which reports machine operation and service data back to the office.
ENG Cranes USA
ENG Cranes is an Italian designer and manufacturer of tower cranes with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. ENG’s engineers have designed, engineered and manufactured custom made tower cranes, luffers and derrick cranes, as well as several different types of winches.
ENG Cranes USA is bringing engineering services for heavy machinery, tower cranes and spare parts directly to the American customer. The company has opened an office and storage facility in San Francisco, CA, starting a new chapter for ENG Cranes. ENG has designed and engineered a new line of luffers that are different from any other luffing jib crane on the market, according to the company. ENG’s idea was to create a new type of luffer that could be used on tight jobsites. The double counter jib has 14.76 feet of slewing radius, which is ideal for downtown areas and congested jobsites.
ENG Cranes manufactures a complete range of flat top tower cranes from 60 up to 800 ton meters with a maximum capacity up to 40 tons and luffer tower cranes from 110 up to 280 ton meters with a maximum capacity up to 20 tons. ENG has introduced its EDL 200-16 ton derrick luffer that is known for its ability to dismantle itself completely without using a mobile crane. The EDL 200-16 has a luffer for jobsites that are tight and do not have much working space.
Comansa has launched the new 21LC1050 to the worldwide market. The 21LC1050 is offered with versions of maximum load of 25, 37.5 and 50 metric tons and can be erected with reach of between 30 and 80 meters with configurations every 5 meters. In addition, an optional jib configuration is available allowing a special reach of 85 meters. The characteristics of load, reach and mechanisms of the 21LC1050 make this model ideal to offer an optimal result in large industrial or mining projects as well as for the construction of buildings with prefabricated and steel structures of great tonnage, Comansa said.
The design of the slewing (horizontal) part of the 21LC1050 is similar to that of the 21LC750 and 21LC660. Instead of having a cusp element, the jib and counterjib join directly on the slewing part, which allows a faster and safer assembly. The 21LC1050 also shares a large part of the jib and counterjib sections with its “little siblings,” the 21LC750 and 21LC660, optimizing the investment for customers who already own these models.
Among the novelties presented by the 21LC1050 is the design of its counterjib, which, like the jib, allows numerous different configurations to better adapt to the needs of each job. Always having a counterjib radius as short as possible avoids possible interference with buildings or other cranes present in the same project, thus increasing safety. The complete structure of counterjib consists of five modular elements that allow up to six different configurations.
In product development, Liebherr’s tower crane division has reached several milestones. Prototype construction for a new, large bottom-slewing crane was completed, along with the development of the 190 HC-L and 230 HC-L top-slewing cranes.
The 190 HC-L features a maximum lifting capacity of 18 tons, a maximum radius of 180 feet, a maximum lifting capacity at the jib head of three tons and a maximum lifting height of 2,927 feet. The 190 HC-L is designed for the 21 HC tower system and is equipped with 65kW hoist gear. Liebherr created the 230 HC-L cranes to cope with great heights using high hoist speeds and higher hook heights. With the 230 HC-L, using different slewing ring supports for the IC as well as the HC tower system, users have the flexibility to adapt the crane to the respective application. The hoist gear with 100 kW provides an empty hook speed of 363 meters per minute.
Additionally, the development of the high-strength fiber rope soLITE is almost complete. Working with Austrian rope manufacturer Teufelberger Holding, Liebherr has developed a new type of high-tensile fiber rope for hoisting applications that will increase the lifting capacity of all cranes. In April 2019 at Bauma Munich, Liebherr will introduce a new tower crane series with fiber rope.
Manitowoc unveiled the Potain MR 160 C luffing jib tower crane at its Crane Days 2018. Visitors to the event in Shady Grove, PA were the first to see this tower crane in action. The MR 160 C offers an 11-ton capacity, a tip load of 2.6 tons and a maximum jib length of 164 feet. Like other cranes in the MR series, it’s well-suited for congested construction sites. The jib can be luffed to a nearly vertical position of 86 degrees while attaining excellent underhook heights and avoiding obstacles, Potain said.
Erection of the MR 160 C is simplified thanks to the rapid-pin connection of the equipped counter jib, which is secured by anti-chute devices. The jib foot can be fit by inserting into the notches of the slewing tower head, and both the hoisting and luffing winches operate by way of a rope reeving system for pinning the jib tie-bar line. The MR 160 C on display at Crane Days was configured with the new 75 HPL 25 high-performance winch to provide high speed and make high-rise construction easier. The updated winch offers a winding capacity of 3,136 feet and a maximum lifting speed of 705 feet per minute.
The Raimondi LR330, released in February 2018, has a maximum jib length of 197 feet and a maximum capacity of 20 tons, with two falls and four falls configurations. At the maximum radius, it can lift four tons in Ultralift mode. Seven different jib length configurations, from 98 to 197 feet, satisfy all needs in terms of specific jobsite configurations.
The LR330 may be equipped with three different hoisting winches: standard installed power of 80kW or the two falls configuration with the more powerful 110kW, while the four falls configuration has an installed power of 80kW. As the flagship crane of the new luffing range, Raimondi has incorporated a breakthrough equilateral triangular jib design to enhance several different aspects of the machine. Structurally optimized, this design allows for improved packaging and transportation, simplifies the construction phase and reduces wind impact on the jib, thereby decreasing the out-of-service radius, Raimondi said.
Crane operators can choose between three different configurations, enabling a change in parameters related to the movement speeds and dynamic. This functionality allows operators to align the crane closer to their specific needs. To reduce pressure on the operator and simultaneously increase the overall level of onsite safety, the safety control system’s installed sensors monitor all of the crane’s movements and monitor the load in hazardous situations.
Saez has made improvements in its luffing-jib crane line in both the hydraulic and conventional ranges. In January 2018 the company unveiled the 8-ton hydraulic luffing-jib crane SLH 190. Some 30 units have been sold, the company said. Saez is set to launch a 10-ton hydraulic luffing-jib crane, the SLH 205. At Bauma Germany, Saez is planning to introduce the 16-ton hydraulic luffing-jib crane SLH 300. Focusing on the conventional luffing-jib cranes, Saez launched the 24-ton Saez SL 450 in July 2018.
In the saddle-jib tower crane class, this year Saez also launched two flat-top city class cranes: the TLS 55 13 and TLS 55 17. Both models are bigger versions of the previous TL 55 that boast a host of improvements to meet the demands of markets such as France, Germany and the United States. The tip load was increased from 1,200 kilograms at 55 meters to 1,350 and 1,750 kilograms respectively, and the maximum load was increased from 5,000 to 6,000 kilograms. Also, the hoist winch has been upgraded from an IP-23 standard 18 kW to an IP-55 new type 24 kW hoist mechanism, providing more hoist speed and a Lebus drum with more rope capacity, Saez said.
In reference to bigger flat-top cranes, Saez also released a 32-ton version of the TLS 80, with a super-sized premium cabin, complete with all the electricals housed in a climate-controlled area and a high-performance 110 kW hoist mechanism.
Wolffkran’s 700 B US tower crane comes with 98 feet of basic jib, extensions up to 700 feet in 16-foot steps, tower top with ascent, slewing frame with cabin, two slewing gears, ball race bearing with central lubrication unit and slip ring system. It is designed with a counterjib with hoist and luffing winch, switch cabinet and counterweights.
In addition, the 1250 B model features a 131-foot basic jib, with extensions up to 262 feet in 16.4-foot steps, tower top with access, slewing frame with a cabin, two slewing gears, ball race bearing with central lubrication unit and slip ring system, as well as a counter jib with hoist and luffing winch, switch cabinet and counterweights. All drives are equipped with frequency-controlled squirrel cage motors, fully terminal protected. The crane is complete with an overload protection system and increased load moment limitation due to automatic hoist speed reduction.
What is considered one of the largest electric luffing cranes in the market, JASO has launched the J780PA in two versions. One version comes with a maximum load of 75 tons, a hoist winch of 110kW and a 220kW motor. The smaller, second version J780PA.64 comes equipped with a 132-ton winch and ML 64 tons.
The target markets are high-rise construction, PPVC construction and mining where the JASO luffer as an electric-driven crane is a perfect answer to commonly used diesel fired hydraulic cranes, the company said. A double deck counter jib has been designed into two pieces to make the erection easy and reduce the erection weights. With only one motor, it is positioned parallel to the drum to save space.
Electrical cabinets are embedded into the structure of the counter jib which means better protection against bad weather conditions and transportation, JASO said. The counter jib radius is 9.5 meters with the heaviest piece at erection weighing less than 21 tons. But if necessary, it can be split into pieces with maximum 10 tons.
The luffer has been designed with two ropes and two bridles. In this way, safety is increased as one can hold the jib if the other fails and also for better handling during erection (smaller diameter of bridle rope). For the U.S. market, a fly jib with 9-ton line pull, has been designed and will be available by end of this year. The winch will be on the machinery deck, behind the hoisting winch, for easy access at erection and for maintenance.