The Indian construction equipment market is expected to grow at 12 per cent CAGR to $4 billion by 2017 whereas the tower crane segment has even higher growth opportunity by 2017 than the projected 12 per cent.
The real estate and power sectors will show a tremendous growth in the next 2-3 years. As per projections, the tower crane requirement will increase to 30-40 per cent in these two years. Current demand growth for tower cranes is mostly from realty sector. The growth on the new segment of pre-cast economic homes will gather pace in the coming years, along with power sector. The market growth by 2020 is expected to be very high and the Indian manufacturers won´t be able to supply according to demands, especially for critical, high capacity and luffing cranes are still need to be addressed with foreign suppliers.
Says Rajiinder Raina, General Manager-Marketing, Escorts Construction Equipment, ´The tower crane market in India has evolved with the growth of high rise buildings. The total market is around 500-600 units and the total market value would be around Rs 500 crore. The 1.5T-5T constitutes around 70 per per cent of the market, whereas 5T-10T market is about 20 per cent and the rest comprises more than 10T category.´ He adds, ´Real estate and high rise being the grow driver, the slowdown in the realty sector has impacted this market in a big way. The market for these cranes was growing merrily at around 15 per cent but the sluggishness took its toll on the equipment as well.
According to PV Ramdev, Managing Director, Everest Engineering Equipment, the market is fast picking up. He says, ´The market demand for 5T-6T tower crane is about 350 units; while the demand for 8T-10T is about 30-40 units and 12T and above is 25-30 units a year. The overall size is 400-450 units with approximate value of Rs 3,000-3,300 million.´
Speaking about the supply-demand scenario, Anil Mudgil, VP-CED, Action Construction Equipment, had this to say. ´The 1.5T to 5T segment is mainly for selfûerecting mobile tower cranes. Self-erecting cranes are of smaller capacities and work for buildings up to 10-12 floors. These cranes are very good for smaller projects and are in great demand for tier-2 cities. Business in this segment is looking up. The demand for 5T to 10T category tower cranes comes from real estate sector mainly for high rise apartments. Business in this segment is still sluggish. With some builders going for prefab buildings, the demand for 10T and above category tower crane is growing steadily, however, their contribution to overall market is very less.´
Says Raina, ´High rise and realty have been the major contributors towards the development of crane market in India as the concept catches up it will inroads into other applications as well. Small movement of these machines for such applications like cooling towers, chimneys, industrial constructions etc, are the areas that are finding merit in deployment of these cranes. The announcement of 100 smart cities should be good news for these cranes.´
With economic slowdown, the demand from infra projects and industrial sector has come down drastically. It has also impacted the real estate market adversely. According to Mudgil, overall tower crane market has dropped by 10-15 per cent over the previous year because of economic slowdown.´ He adds, ´We have expanded our range and are offering tower cranes up to 25T capacity; we are offering jib lengths from 25 m to 70 m. We are also offering luffing jib type tower cranes. This has helped us to provide a complete solution to our customers.´
Krishna Kumar, (Divisional Head - Tower Cranes), Liebherr India, says, ´As the overall demand was very slow in market as a pre-poll scenario, we could sustain it with some good orders, but the situation has changed now, as a steady improvement is visible in markets and this is expected to increase steadily.´ He adds, ´The major demand is from the realty sector, which includes all high rise and prefab sector. With relaxed FDI norms from last October, we expect more MNC companies invest in India; we do expect a demand from the power and manufacturing sectors with the positive steps Government is taking now; but this needs time to get reflected in market.´
According to Kumar, the growth of rental companies will increase in India and there is big potential for professional rental companies having a good fleet of tower cranes. Says Raina, ´Globally, more than 60 per cent of cranes are owned by rental companies/hirers, but in India this is about 20 per cent. As is the case with other equipment, rental companies make the product more popular by delivering value for money on short-term deployment basis and avoiding investment by the companies whose core competence is other than running and maintaining plant and machinery. The rental market will grow as a percentage of total pie and also help grow the size of the pie.´ According Ramdev, there was a tremendous growth in rental segment from 75-80 numbers in 2010 to 350 numbers in 2014. He says, ´This segment will grow further to 600 numbers by 2017.´
Mudgil says, ´Mostly tower cranes are purchased by contractors and developers themselves because of their long-term use. But once they have a basic minimum inventory, they try to take further cranes on rental. Rentals provide complete peace of mind to the customer. We take care of complete operation and maintenance of tower crane. Customer need not bother about erection and dismantling or storage of tower crane once the project is over.´ He adds, ´Rentals give us an opportunity to offer tower crane to customers, who do not want to invest because of capital constraints. Customers need not bother about operations and maintenance or availability/uptime issues. We provide the complete package which enables customers to work with tower cranes without owning them.
Explaining pros and cons of the rental scenario, Ahamed Mohiden, Deputy Vice President - Plant & Equipment, Lodha Group, says, ´With rental cranes there are limitations of usage. If you use it for 12 hours, the charge is fixed and for more than that they will be charging extra. Operator also will be similarly charged. So you are not at the freedom of using a rental crane for your project requirement. Otherwise you have to pay more. It is not necessary that all rental cranes are brand new and they are maintained properly. The tendency of the local rental agencies is that they bring any kind of machines, 15-20 year old and expect to gain a lot of money through rent but at the cost of maintenance. If we are choosing rental machines, we have to specify the age of the machine.´
According to Raina, there´s certainly a shift in demand towards high-capacity tower cranes because it gives versatility of application by way of offering longer reach as well as high tonnage depending upon applications/need. Longer jibs would make high tonnage cranes more versatile and value for money. This will ensure increased deployment of the equipment and reduced reliance on labour, both are equally important given the vagaries of manpower availability during various seasons. He adds, ´Since multiple top cranes get deployed on one building, anti-collision device is gaining acceptance to avoid two cranes hitting each other. The safety of man and material is of paramount importance, therefore the focus on safety. The cranes need to be operator-friendly with built-in fool proofing arrangements and SOS device for operator.
Says Mohideen, ´Level of technology in India is the latest manufacturing methods which are followed in India because most of the bigger companies have set up their facilities here. They are always making the latest cranes, and I think similar methodologies will be followed in India as well. At the same time, those who are setting up facilities here should not leave everything with the local team only. The day-to-day procedure of quality check up, process of manufacturing, selection of material, etc, should always be monitored by the principal companies which are setting up their factories in India.´ He adds, ´Another thing is the weather condition which is not the same in Europe or other regions. In India, weather is a mix of winter, summer and rain. The cranes outside the building are exposed to the atmosphere and will be subjected to a lot of corrosion. This aspect should be concentrated. Paintings of the external surfaces should be improved to a great extent by putting up better painting methodologies or epoxy coating system must be applied. There should be R&D in this area so that the crane exterior surface is always maintained properly for the weather conditions.´
Speaking about the training aspect, Mohiden says, ´Indian tower crane manufacturing companies should take operator training as corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to implement training academies so that many people get trained in tower crane operations. Training on maintenance also should be properly given to the team so that everyone will be aware of the operation and maintenance of the crane and naturally the life of the crane will go up.´
Safety in tower crane is of paramount importance. We may lose certain time or add up certain cost element for safety. But at the end of the day, the benefit of safety is really great. It improves the productivity of the site as a whole. So people should not compromise on safety which comes along with proper maintenance, proper housekeeping, regular inspection, keeping the right kind of operator, etc.
Elaborating on some of the issues, Mohideen points out, ´There are some unauthorised people who are making parts like mass sections and tie sections which is dangerous. It should be curtailed. If it is a branded crane, you cannot use any kind of steel for making mass section and such parts. We also get some of the mass sections which made locally without any authorisation from the brands. This is not a good practice to be followed here; because crane is such an element, which will be subject to a lot of load requirements and safety aspects. The manufacturing of these cranes at the factory level is done in a very cautious way. They use the right kind of alloy steel so that when the crane is at maximum wind speed, the flexibility of the crane is always tackled. Otherwise, if the steel is very hard and the carbon content is more, the crane may break during high wind. So the proper alloy steel selection for a crane mass or a jib length is very important. Manufacturing of crane parts should be done in a full-fledged facility with proper quality check and control. Even the tower crane pins are not a simple thing to manufacture. It is subjected to a lot of friction, contraction and expansion when the crane is in motion. So it needs that kind of an alloy structure. If it is hard, it may damage the mass section holes also. All these points need to be taken care of.´
Speaking about the importance of proper maintenance, he says, ´The life of a tower crane is 15 years minimum and 25 years maximum, provided use and maintenance the crane is proper and keep it in the right condition. This is applicable mostly to European cranes. Even a Chinese crane can be used for 10-15 years if it is properly maintained. But here the concept is that one uses a tower crane for one project and doesn´t maintain at all. When the next project comes, the condition of the crane becomes so bad that to fit it at a site will be a big issue for the contractor because they don´t do proper operation and maintenance. If you have a proper equipment base, even clients will give you more jobs.
The way ahead
Says Raina, ´For any evolving market, it takes time to settle down for the user and the equipment provider to understand the equipment that would be appropriate for his application. What is true of countries outside Indian market place may not exactly be the right fit for Indian applications. The Indian suppliers have to understand and offer the right equipment to maximise its utility and thereby return on investment. The finance companies also need to bring this equipment into their fold as the market will keep growing for tower cranes for quite some time.´
Mohiden sums up, ´The awareness about the importance of the tower cranes, the real requirement of the tower cranes and their usage has come now. Most of the contractors are now planning to use tower cranes because that will ease a lot of their work pressure and give them advantage of complete material handling with a tower crane. I think in another five years time, every tower project in India will use a tower crane. Once the use of tower cranes become common, good practices would be inculcated automatically. And when we become a full-fledged user of tower cranes, we will be a country with good practice as well.´
- Agith G Antony with inputs from Sudheer Vathiyath
Price depends on the height of the crane, the loading capacity, and the jib length. If you are taking a crane for a free standing height with a 50 m jib length and a normal loading capacity, it may cost a Rs 60-70 lakh for a Chinese crane, and Rs 85-90 lakh for a European crane even it is made in India. When it comes to luffing cranes, Chinese cranes cost Rs 1.6 crore-2 crore, while European cranes will cost between Rs 3.5 crore and Rs 5.5 crore.
- Ahamed Mohideen, Dy Vice President - Plant and Equipment, Lodha Group
If tower crane accident happens it will be a disaster. Even a breakdown of a tower crane can affect hundreds of activities in a work site. Tower crane can be termed as King of the site. If the tower crane breaks down or has an accident, the entire site comes to a standstill. Especially, with the latest trends in development, people are completely dependent on tower cranes for their projects.
Tower crane is a highly sensitive machine and it should be properly maintained, erection and dismantling should be done by the right crew members. Maximum accidents happen during erection, raising and dismantling of the crane. While a tower crane is being erected, the entire jib length is lifted up and will be oscillating in the air. So they should know how to balance the entire element of the tower crane. The operation and maintenance crew also should be properly selected, they should have ample experience. Similarly the operators also should be adequately trained. Here there are no proper training given to the operators. Just like they would have been working as a rigger or signal man who knows how a tower crane works, they just come and take up the entire operation of a tower crane which is highly dangerous. So there should be regulations by the government, the tower crane operators must be properly licensed, and there should be training organisations which should impart proper training to the people.
- Ahamed Mohideen, Dy Vice President - Plant and Equipment, Lodha Group
SELECTING A tower crane
Features and specifications depend on the site requirement. Site requirement only will drive the jib length of the crane and the loading capacity. Minimum capacity should be normally around 1.5-2 tonne. The crane which has a maximum jib length will always be useful to the project site that will cover the entire circle of the site. Other than that, all the safety elements should be there. Operator should be able to manage the crane easily, the load chart promised should be fulfilled in practical experience also. All the limit switches, load limit switches and crane stability should be properly installed in the crane, the mass section should be stable one, going for a very small mass section will be always dangerous. Overall, whatever features specified by the manufacturer in the catalogue should be fulfilled. Also there is chance of twisting of rope, so the anti-twisting mechanism also should be provided in the crane. Similarly, there is variable frequency drive which really saves the power consumption. So the VFD should be fit in all the tower cranes. Every crane should have anemometer to know the speed of the wind so that the crane will stop and the wind speed is more after certain level of stated safety conditions. Nowadays, in one building if there are 2-3 cranes, then we go for the anti-collision device which controls the overall circumferential radius of the crane and if there is any interference to that radius, then the crane naturally get stopped. It is applicable to all the cranes. If there are three cranes, all should have this device to avoid any kind of collision of the crane parts.
THE NEW ENTRANT
Schwing Stetter India in association with XCMG, one of the top five world renowned construction equipment manufacturing companies has recently launched an exclusive range of Schwing-XCMG tower cranes in India. This marks the entry of Schwing Stetter into material handling industry. Says Anand Sundaresan, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director, Schwing Stetter India, ´The launch of Schwing-XCMG tower crane marks a very important milestone in the journey of Schwing Stetter. This is extremely special for us because we are slowly foraying into the material handling market with the tower cranes. Moreover, it is our profound objective to be able to constantly upgrade and update our equipment to suit the current needs of the construction industry which will in turn help the customers to grow their business.´ Said VG Sakthikumar, Managing Director, Schwing Stetter Sales & Services, ´Keeping in mind the growing infrastructure requirements in India, our focus has shifted into improvising our technologies that will help to save time, money and improve performance. We believe that Schwing-XCMG tower crane will enable all of this for the construction equipment industry. The launch of Schwing-XCMG tower crane will be a defining moment in the journey of Schwing Stetter.´