Cost-effective and technology-driven tower cranes will enable contractors overcome the challenges of constructing taller buildings, without compromising on safety, productivity and operator comfort.
Many factors such as lack of ground space, provision of greener surrounding, higher FSI approvals, aesthetics, integrated facilities, building more accommodation for residential or commercial purpose and most surprisingly ambition of the developers to make the tallest building, dictate construction of high-rise buildings and structures in urban infrastructure development. This trend was started with the construction of the iconic Empire State Building in New York and currently the title rests with Burj Khalifa at Dubai which is 829.8 m tall with 163 floors. Further, plans are already afloat to build a one-km tall tower in Saudi Arabia.
Having said that, it would be appropriate to mention that very high structures are also required in other infrastructure sectors like Hydro, thermal, and renewable power projects; chemicals, fertilisers and refineries projects; and aviation and aerospace. For example: dams, chimneys, cooling towers; nuclear reactor protection dome and space vehicle assembly-cum-launch pads.
Tower cranes of various types, configurations and capacities are essential equipment to construct such high structures as they are part of the material handling value chain. Most reputed manufacturers are developing new generation tower cranes to meet this ever-growing requirement in terms of stability, speed, safety, operator comfort and other aspects to meet the customers´ expectations, which are in line with their respective construction challenges.
Tower crane suppliers and users in India visualise the current and future markets to grow along an upward trajectory. The primary growth drivers being high rise residential and commercial buildings in realty sector and accelerated infrastructure developments with specific reference to power sector.
Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech Material Handling Systems India Pvt Ltd, presents his assessment, ¨High-rise buildings is the latest trend globally. With the cranes getting taller, there will surely be several modifications required in the design of cranes. At higher level, there will be more resistance of wind pressure. The structure and the cabin design will need to adjust with the higher wind pressure for obtaining more stability.¨ As regards product price he comments, ¨We don´t see a great impact on crane pricing and there will be no much negative impact on the market demand. On the other side, the demand for high-rise building and taller tower cranes will continue to grow.
¨The current market seems to be in th range of 150 to 200 units per year. We feel that travelling cranes should be put in greater use, as one crane can do the work of two cranes in travelling mode,¨ says Saeesh Nevrekar, Director - Cranes India, Sales & Services, Terex Cranes.
VG Sakthikumar, Managing Director, Schwing Stetter Sales and Services Pvt Ltd and Chairman of Mechanisation Committee, Builders Association of India assesses, ¨The tower crane market is in a fairly nascent stage in India when compared to the more developed markets. However, this scenario is rapidly changing and is expected to grow at 20 per cent annually over the next few years. The real estate sector itself has seen a paradigm shift after the passing of Real Estate Bill. Not only metros, but Tier-II towns are witnessing previously unseen level of development, and the skyline of the cities like Mumbai and Delhi is rapidly changing with skyscrapers becoming the norm. Mumbai alone accounts for approximately 70-80 per cent of the demand for newer tower cranes, and this is only expected to grow.¨
Samar Ghosh Dastidar, Technical Director, Simplex Infrastructures Ltd, agrees, ¨In India, the tower cranes are mostly used in building construction for handling of reinforcement, shuttering materials and also concreting work. Nowadays tower cranes are also being used in industrial projects for both RCC work, steel fabrication and erection work. Even in infrastructure projects like flyovers, bridges, Metros, etc, tower cranes are being used specially at yard for handling of precast elements and occasionally for onsite erection works also.¨ He adds, ¨The demand for luffing tower cranes is slowly growing because of the congestion due to increase in use of number of tower cranes in a project. Even in a single building/structure more than one tower cranes are installed and to avoid collision luffing tower cranes are used. Luffing tower cranes are also useful in cases where a new under-construction building is surrounded by tall existing buildings in a congested area.¨
PB Ahamed Mohideen, Deputy Vice President - Plant and Equipment, Lodha Group of Companies explains giving detail for various types of tower cranes, ¨The construction industry is in various segments. Particularly in building sector, there are vertical and horizontal developments. In the horizontal developments, there can be hammer head and topless cranes which are of free standing nature and economical. If there are frequent movements required in the crane, it makes sense to get the self-erecting tower cranes, which can be easily moved from place to place and no foundation is required. In vertical developments, there will be generally high-rise towers that require three types of tower cranes namely, hammer head, topless and luffing type. Topless cranes may become better to use due to its lesser overall height (no tower structure is there in topless cranes). In a building, if two cranes are used one above the other, topless cranes will offer a better solution as the interference will be limited. The high-rise towers which are of more than 150 m height need climbing type of tower cranes, which reduce the extra cost of additional mast sections and lateral ties to the buildings. The luffing cranes will be inevitable when there are interferences to the free movement of jib of the crane.
PV Ramdev, Managing Director, Everest Engineering Equipment informs, ¨The market demand was 550-600 units last year which has come down to 350-400 units this year. We expect that the demand will increase from 2017-18 and may touch 1,000-1,200 units by 2020.¨ He adds, ¨As per the current situations in India, builders and developers are the major growth drivers. This includes the low cost pre-cast housing also. More demand will be from 25~100 floor buildings which need 10 t~16 t range of tower cranes due to shift towards crane assisted climbing formworks.¨ He expects, ¨For high-rise buildings with the latest formwork, the trend is towards luffing cranes and in some special case, the requirement is for flat-top tower cranes.¨
Krishna Kumar, Divisional Head - Tower Cranes, Liebherr India Pvt Ltd says, ¨Liebherr works consistently on developing our high-performance drive units, leading to significant increase in material handling output. When it comes to high-rise buildings, the internal climbing solutions from Liebherr give our customers an economical, safe and fast solution.¨
¨With the rise of tall and super tall construction, we´ll see stronger demand for cranes that can be positioned internally on buildings, within the lift core. This means with a mast configuration that can accommodate narrower site constraints. All of the above will mean that customers are on the lookout for cranes that are faster, more flexible in configuration and with much higher capacity. However, we should also note that this shift will be gradual, especially in India. Here, customers will still look primarily for tower cranes that can handle the bulk of construction, and at present, tall and super tall development is only a small percentage of that,¨ chips in Ashwani Mattoo, Sales Director - Tower Cranes, Manitowoc Cranes India.
Expected fast movers
Suppliers and users alike expect similar tower crane configurations and capacities to be the upcoming best sellers. Apparently, all stakeholders are aligned in their respective spaces. Mehendale explains with reasons why certain crane capacities are expected to be fast sellers, ¨Higher land cost and limited space in urban area is pushing developers to opt for high rise buildings. The trend is that many people are relocating from rural to urban area and there is still big gap between demand and supply of residential space in major metros in India. On the other side, government´s push to infrastructure projects has created demand for tower cranes in India. Construction and infrastructure are the biggest verticals to drive the demand for tower cranes followed by industrial vertical. As per our estimate, mostly 5-20 tonne capacity cranes will be in demand.¨ He adds, ¨Luffing jib tower cranes ranging from 8 t to 63 t will be in demand. The technical parameters and performance of these cranes are ideal for special construction requirements. They feature large lifting capacity, derricking with load, small swing radius and require little operating room. Our heavy-duty luffing jib tower cranes are specially designed to suit the narrow spaces in urban areas and multiple tower project construction. They are the best choice for high rise projects in crowded cities.¨ On the emerging trends, Mehendale comments, ¨We recommend capsule shape cabins for tall cranes. The safety of operators and the full view from cabin will also be important. Various advanced features like load limiter, anti-wire rope twisting mechanisms will help operators to monitor safe operations. Dismantling and then re-assembly of tall tower cranes in the shortest possible time at several different sites will create a challenge. In future, we can also witness trend to have remote controlled tower crane than cabin controlled ones. Remote monitoring systems for several operating parameters of tower cranes will help to understand the health of tower cranes even while you are away from the site. These are some of the changes, we see in the next generation tower cranes.¨ Nevrekar adds, ¨Currently small size cranes of 80-120 tonne-meter capacity are in demand. But we feel this demand will move to 180-200 tonne-meter class very soon. This is mainly because time will be of highest importance and with greater capacities project completion times will surely minimise. Luffing cranes are the future in a developing nation as ours. These will be seen around most of the city´s skylines in next 4-5 years. They are fast, compact, and technically best option in crowded cities.¨
Dastidar comments from a user standpoint, ¨Generally, stationary 10-tonne capacity tower cranes (maximum 10 tonne at 15.9 m radius and about 1.8 tonne at 65 m radius) and also stationary 5 tonne capacity tower cranes (maximum 5 tonne at 16.3 m and 1.3 tonne at 50 m) are more in demand. However, nowadays precast technology for housing construction is also becoming quite popular in India and in that case, higher capacity of tower cranes of about 35-50 tonne capacity are being normally used for handling the precast elements.¨
Mattoo spells out the huge product range offered by Manitowoc, ¨In India, we have a production plant for Potain tower cranes in Pune and the most important models from this facility are the MCT 85 and the larger MC 205. The MCT 85 replaced the MCi 85 A, which is one of the most popular tower cranes of all time in India. The new MCT 85 has a 5 t maximum capacity and a 52 m jib, with a 1.1 t capacity at its jib end. The MC 205 has a 10 t maximum capacity and a 60 m jib. It can lift 2.4 t at its jib end.¨ According to Mattoo, there is some demand for luffing jib tower cranes in India, but this category is not as popular here as it is in other markets. ¨There are two regionally built models available, the MCR 160 and the MCR 225A,¨ he adds.
Says Krishna Kumar, ¨85EC-B5i from our Pune factory has high hoisting capacity of 278 m hook height. Liebherr TCS (Tower Cranes Solutions) work with customers very closely and submit most economical and safe proposals. Tower crane on travelling version is also an economical solution in applications when it comes to large projects. These cranes are erected on freestanding heights only on travelling version. This minimises the number of tower cranes by optimising use of cranes on travelling version.¨
Sakthikumar has a more holistic assessment, ¨All capacities put together, the volume is 500 units. We expect the real estate sector to revive in 2017. Travelling tower crane requirements will go up in the future.¨
Traditionally, tower crane was considered as low technology equipment, by most buyers. As such the equipment was selected on the basis of ´will do the job´. However, compelling factors like high safety awareness, emphasis on productivity, higher structures heights, longer product life expectancy, low total cost of ownership, shrinking project delivery periods and others made a contractor attain a competitive edge in the market and have contributed in shattering the paradigm. Present day suppliers are offering new generation tower cranes with best of breed solutions in line with user expectations.
Highlights Nevrekar, ¨Tower cranes will need to evolve with time to match the requirements of customers needs. For example, Terex Cranes has recently launched a Lift Shaft climbing system for its tower cranes, wherein the climbing collars have been made redundant. No other manufacturer has this system in the market. The deletion of climbing collars is music to the ears of any civil contractor. This innovation enables deletion of activity to move the collars after each climb, deletion of fabrication of beams on which these collars have to be fixed, and deletion of moving these heavy beams to the next collar level. In totality, 3-4 days of activity to prepare for climbing is deleted. The first three cranes with this system have been erected at a jobsite in London a couple of months ago, for world renowned contractor Brookfield Multiplex.¨
Says Mehendale, ¨Upcoming trends such as the growing demand for fuel-efficient and advanced tower crane are rapidly gaining popularity due to their cost-effective performance and high level of safety. We feel that the trend to build next generation tower cranes will have additional focus on key operational parameters like reliability, user-friendliness, easy to dismantle and reassemble and of course, safety. Our range of tower cranes comes with several innovative features such as parameter monitoring system, which ensures that all movements remain within the safe programmed limits. Self-climbing mechanism with anti-drop device ensures safe jacking operation. Climbing frame with platform is provided for easy and quick self-erection. Limit switches used in our cranes help for smooth hoisting, slewing and trolley movement. Anti-twist device used for wire rope prevents twisting of wire ropes and hence avoids any potential danger. Trolley is equipped with safety features such as wire rope breakage protection, axle breakage protection and wire rope guide. Load limiter as well as moment limiter provided ensures extra safety measures. Modular connections of the counter jib and main jib to the slewing module ensure quick assembly and disassembly, saving time and effort. Ladder with safety cage and rest platforms is convenient for operators and maintenance personnel.¨
Mattoo points out, ¨Across the board, there is also a shift to modularity and greater flexibility. This means tower cranes that can be configured in an increasingly varied number of set-ups, making them suitable to a wider variety of job sites. As infrastructure development and commercial construction going up in India, we expect to see more interest in luffing jib cranes and the compact working areas they offer. First, and most importantly, is the need for faster hoist speed. Potain is one of the world´s leading innovators in hoist technology and recent times have seen new introductions designed for the high-rise market. For example, on the new MR 418 luffing jib crane, we offer our 270 LVF 120 hoist as an option. This 200 kW hoist can provide 826 m of rope capacity and winch speeds of up to 254 m/min, making it perfect for work on tall and super tall buildings. We offer a range of other hoist options, including an increasing number that are well-suited to high-rise applications.¨ He adds, ¨A related issue is the weight of wire rope in super tall construction. The higher the building, and the longer the rope, the more capacity is needed just to lift the rope itself, and this has an impact on the overall crane lifting power. In the future, it´s possible to imagine synthetic rope, such as our pioneering KZ-100 which is available on some Grove mobile cranes, being applied.¨
Ramdev brings forth the technology aspects of SYM cranes, ¨We offer the latest technology of PLC + VFD combination of control system, which can save about 35 per cent of diesel consumption amounting to Rs 8~9 lakh per year on a 6 t tower crane. Most of the construction companies are burning this much of diesel due to lack of knowledge, selection and saving a little initial purchase cost. SYM tower cranes are designed to sustain very high wind velocity. The best and powerful technology in slewing operation (rotating operation) is with RCV control. The VFD slewing system also can cross the wind if the design of the mechanism and VFD program match together to meet the permissible operational wind velocity. Otherwise, the crane cannot cross the wind with a lifted load, and has to stop operation many times a day. If the heavy wind is in the same direction of rotation, then it is very difficult to stop the rotation at desired location. Therefore, an eddy current braking system is necessary on the slewing operation. During holidays and non-working days, a weather wane system has to be actuated to make the crane rotate freely according to the direction of wind. The display boards on the counter jib are meant for the balancing of weather wane. And some customers are modifying these boards to display their company name/project name, actually calling the operational accidents. We are the CRISIL rated, ISO certified tower crane service company in India.¨ He explains some additional and optional features offered by his company, ¨We are offering wide vision cabins with reduced vibration fitment. Our operating systems are suitable for very slow placement of loads accurately on the construction locations. We also offer the anti-collision devices combined with safe load indicating controllers (SLIC) as an optional feature. We also offer tower crane hook camera system which can be used up to a height of even 600 m. This camera is suitable for outdoor use, with radio control for focal change from operator cabin and are battery-operated. This battery is charged by solar panels fitted all together with camera in the moving trolley.
Sakthikumar details Schwing-XCMG´s India-centric initiatives, ¨Growth of various sectors, primarily commercial, residential, real estate, power, infrastructure, will indirectly drive the growth of the Indian crane sector. Since these sectors require a variety of cranes for their material lifting needs, they keep driving the demand for cranes as well as creating scope for product innovations. The tower crane industry, in turn, will keep on expanding and innovating. Since high rises have become a trend not only in metros but in Tier-II and Tier-III cities as well, the real estate and commercial sector will drive the demand of tower cranes in the coming years. Luffing cranes will become popular in high rise and congested areas in metros. Anti-collision device and safe load indicators are the developing technologies in tower cranes. Anti-collision device: This is designed to prevent cranes from flying over forbidden zones or colliding with another when multiple cranes are present in the job site. This system can detect the angle, weight of the load lifted and ground radius of the crane. The crane is fitted with multiple sensors for each of the measured parameters which are then displayed in the operator´s cabin to keep them informed. Designed to help prevent accidents, this device will slow down movement while warning the operator of any danger. These movements will then be decreased and finally stopped to avoid collision with another crane or flying over a forbidden zone.
Safe load indicator: Its design makes it extremely suitable for harsh working environment as well as less demanding situations. Main features are:
Innovation in tower crane design
Flat top model tower crane with 5t capacity: To develop flat-top tower crane, SSI has been working with XCMG for innovations required for the Indian market, key concepts have been utilised for easiness of transport and erection, as well as the modularity of its components. Striking feature of flat top tower crane is the compact head. With the prominence on quick and easy assembly, the simplified design is attractive and an undisputable benefit to the customer. Many flat-top cranes have been used for construction-based projects or near airports where overhead clearance is frequently a concern.
Other upcoming trends are the growing demand for energy-efficient and advanced tower cranes which are rapidly gaining popularity due to their cost-effective performance and high level of safety. Construction companies across the globe prefer using energy-efficient equipment as it enables power savings. Moreover, the introduction of stringent government policies pertaining to carbon emission levels is expected to spur the adoption of advanced tower cranes.
From a user´s perspective Dastidar comments, ¨As the building heights are going up day-by-day, floor climbing tower cranes are becoming a necessity as stationary tower cranes are practical up to a certain height only, from safety point of view. Use of wireless remote operation by the tower crane operator to operate the crane is also good from safety point of view as he is able to station himself in a vantage point for operating the crane with a clear view of the actual use point and also other probable obstacles. Anti collision sensors fitted on tower crane is also good for safe operation.¨
Challenges & opportunities
According to Mehendale, there is a huge market opportunity for tower cranes globally. He adds, ¨The increase in urban infrastructure projects and high rise residential apartment construction projects across globe will impel market growth in coming years. Consequently, market is expected to generate revenue of more than $8 billion by 2019. Geographically, the APAC region is estimated to account for more than 45 per cent of the total market share by 2019. Increasing investments in urban infrastructure projects across countries such as China, India, and Indonesia is expected to augment market growth in APAC during the forecast period.¨ On the challenges, he says, ¨Tower crane market faces several challenges, including high initial cost of equipment. Many small or medium size developers are not able to afford buying tower cranes. To ensure the steady growth of tower crane market, several measures need to be taken care of. Financing for tower crane is becoming popular these days. Many companies have entered into tower crane renting business, which is one of the growth drivers for tower cranes.¨
On the challenges and opportunities, Dastidar says, ¨Market opportunities are very bright for tower cranes in India as nowadays, clients are insisting for early completion of projects with high quality and in a safe manner, necessitating the contractor to engage more mechanised method of construction involving equipment like tower cranes etc. Challenges for manufacturers are to have product of high quality at reasonable cost as competition is increasing with a new player every other day including from China.¨
Ramdev perceives, ¨Major setback is the slowdown of apartment sales and slow development of low-cost pre-cast houses in India. More concentration on infra development, delays in the land acquisition procedure for smart cities, are also reasons.¨
Mohideen opines, ¨India is poised for good developments in infrastructure and medium sized building developments within the model city development projects. The labour availability is the biggest scarcity in the Indian market and hence all kinds of mechanisation will be used in the future. Most of the material handling will be the biggest challenges to this sector and the tower cranes are going to play a major role in future. Like the case of China, Gulf and European countries, even a three/four storey buildings are built with tower cranes as the cost of labour is very high in these countries. In our country, the cost of labour is less, but the availability is always a big question.¨
Mattoo joins in, ¨The short-term potential for tower crane opportunities is good, given the government´s ongoing investment in infrastructure. One challenge is likely to be the move towards more advanced technology to support the targeted growth ambitions of the country. It´s always an educational process to demonstrate the improved productivity and profitability that innovative machines, such as Potain tower cranes, can deliver. But overall the outlook for tower cranes in India is good.¨ Nevrekar adds another dimension, ¨Challenges will always be Products of Chinese Origin. In India buyers are not looking at the long term residual life of the tower crane. Most of the buyers are still buying looking at only short term horizon, which is not the correct approach. This approach makes Chinese purchases more enticing.¨
Tower cranes are available on rent throughout the country. However, over the past several years, this business has been very low and full of woes for the hirers. Having said that, this business is bound to bounce back in future.
Says, Mohideen, ¨The rental market will become good in India in future. Rental agencies are offering the products with investing, maintaining, operating (as per requirements), and ensuring safety of the tower cranes. The risk is very much limited to the end-user and they will prefer to go for rental options. Hence, the rental market is going to flourish soon in India. But a matured rental market is the need of the hour to tap the market.¨
Mehendale states, ¨Renting crane business is becoming popular these days as many small and medium size developers can´t afford to buy tower cranes. Big players are more likely to buy tower cranes as they can use it for several projects over the long time frame and save on project cost. On the other hand, lucrative financing option is available these days in the market. Financing will support the renting companies to buy tower cranes; this will also encourage upcoming and smaller companies into crane renting business. Nowadays, the trend of renting tower cranes has become popular. We are not directly involved in tower crane rentals; however we do have some of our customers who are into tower crane rentals.¨
Dastidar says, ¨Buying a tower crane is generally preferred and rental may not be a profitable option as initial tower crane erection/commissioning and also dismantling after completion of project takes more time and tower crane once engaged is generally used for a considerably long duration.¨
Ramdev explains, ¨Construction equipment rental is showing a steady growth and will grow similarly even though it is a highly competitive market. New players in the rental market have to struggle a little due to the lack of proper service and spare parts support. However, it is showing a growth trend in the market.¨
According to Krishna Kumar, Liebherr provides rental solutions through its dealer network in India. On the other hand, Mattoo has a different standpoint. ¨At Manitowoc we do not operate a direct rental service for customers looking to lease a Potain tower crane, but we work closely with all our customers to connect contractors and rental companies when mutually beneficial situations arise. While still in its relative infancy, the rental business in India is growing and we expect that trend to continue. Its progression also shows how the economy as a whole is developing in India.¨
On the future of the market, Mehendale says, ¨The tower cranes market is in a fairly nascent stage in India when compared to the developed markets. However, this scenario is rapidly changing and the market is expected to grow at 20 per cent annually over the next few years. The real estate sector itself has seen a paradigm shift over the past decade with modern techniques of construction becoming more common across the sector. Not only metros, but Tier-II towns are witnessing previously unseen level of development, and the skyline of the cities like Mumbai and Delhi is rapidly changing with skyscrapers becoming the norm. This isn´t surprising, given escalating land prices and Cushman & Wakefield´s estimate of the shortfall in residential units from seven major cities alone touching 1.3 million. With these changes, comes the demand for quicker time to market for projects, which is pushing the demand for related equipment.¨
Sakthikumar elaborates, ¨As per various market analyses, the infrastructure segment is considered to be the largest segment during the forecast period followed by the residential and commercial sectors. Huge investments made by the governments of several countries across world are expected to result in this segment´s high market share. For India, smart cities apart from rapid urbanisation, coupled with growing vertically in metros will drive the growth.¨
¨There is surely a growth in tower crane market,¨ confirms Nevrekar. He adds, ¨ With the Modi government future looks very promising. India has a large land mass and it will surely develop to cater to all the demands of the Indian public.¨ ¨As more companies like medium and small size construction companies are also trending to depend on tower cranes for material lifting from their old different type of winching methods, the tower crane business in India is expected a steady positive growth in the coming years. Also the present development in infrastructure projects can make a growth in real estate sectorin future,¨ Krishna Kumar observes.
However, Mattoo is cautious, ¨The outlook 2020 is generally strong, but dependent on continued government investment in infrastructure and improving the business environment for companies, to allow commercial construction to flourish also. With the election in 2019, we will expect a slowdown in activity in the run-up to the election; and how business progresses after the election will very much depend on the policy decisions of the incoming Prime Minister.¨
As logical progression to accelerated infrastructure developments in the country, the realty sector is destined to return to a growth trajectory, in the near future. Since this sector is the single largest consumer of tower cranes, the future of this equipment category is assured.
What does the user want?
PB Ahamed Mohideen
Features which differentiate
-Multiple cranes are present in one or nearby buildings
-There is interference jib movement with other cranes in vicinity
-Hoisting hook or rope gets intersected by other crane movements
-Surrounding objects restrict horizontal luffing
-Extremely high structures where plate area is small, at heights.