More than 275 delegates gathered in Miami on May 18-19 for a very successful first Tower Crane North America (TCNA) conference.

One of the key messages from the event, voiced by two senior figures in the industry, was that although activity levels are currently very high, rental companies should aware that market conditions can change.

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Delegates at the first Tower Cranes North America conference.

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 would come.

Maxim COO Frank Bardonaro agreed that the pipeline of work was good, but sounded a cautionary note by citing the confidence and investment in cranes that was continuing in the run up to the 2008 crash. He said rental companies had to be aware of the value of their services and 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 round-table debate 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.

Hird said cameras were a safety aid and were being adopted by more and more companies in Europe and the UK, sometimes at the behest of the contractor on site. Machut emphasized that the normal requirements for operating cranes safely were not bypassed through the use of cameras, with cameras acting as an additional aid for operators rather than a replacement for traditional procedures.

Meanwhile, Peter Juhren of Morrow, and chair of the SC&RA’s tower crane committee, outlined how crane companies should prepare their towers for hurricanes and other severe weather events. He emphasised the need to prepare well in advance: his message was that if you start preparing only when a weather warning is issued, then it is already too late.

Another key theme of the event was the challenges that higher buildings and faster construction schedules were having 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 soon to be launched fibre ropes, which he said would extend rope life considerably and increase crane lifting capacity.

All of the presentations are available for download here.

The conference was organized by KHL Group and its magazines American Cranes & Transport (ACT) and International Cranes and Specialized Transport, supported by official event partner SC&RA.