The focused thrust on infrastructure, manufacturing and agricultural sectors is expected to boost the demand for pick-n-carry cranes, which dominate the mobile crane market with over 80 per cent of total sales. EQUIPMENT INDIA trains its spotlight on the current market and product trends with focus on safety and latest product offerings from OEMs.
Australia can rightly be regarded as the home of pick-n-carry (PnC) cranes. The design was born during World War II, when trailed cranes were the most common type of PnC crane used in handling stores. In India, till half-a-decade ago, the lion´s share of the mobile crane market (over 93 per cent) was dominated by PnC cranes. Even though the launch of truck loaded and knuckle-boom cranes has have an impact on the PnC market, PnC cranes still rule the roost, especially in the lower capacity segment up to 15T. OEMs over the years have been innovating to overcome the technical limitations of PnCs, especially from the safety point of view, and have launched new variants and models. The innovations have also been spurred by stiff competition from other product segments as the sales got influenced by concepts of application-oriented solutions.
According to Rajinder Raina, General Manager - Marketing, Escorts Construction Equipment, crane market was down in the last two years with a cumulative negative growth of about 40 per cent. However, it has shown some signs of recovery in the past couple of months. The growth is expected to continue as some of the stalled projects get restarted and a few new ones get started off. A few metro projects are expected to drive the demand from November onwards, coupled with certain power projects. As the wheels of economy start moving faster, the rental market, as a tradition, shows improvement. The industry is looking forward to improved sentiments from Diwali onwards.
According to Raina, for the current financial year, the crane market is expected to be about 4,000 units, of which 12T and 15T will constitute the major chunk. Given the stringent norms of safety and stability of equipment, material handling beyond 15T shall be allowed only through TRX type of cranes. Even TRX series would have a definite product life cycle. These cranes are currently being used at all infrastructure project sites like petrochemicals, metros, power, ports, steel, etc.
Says Amit Sood, Head - Sales & Marketing, Material Handling Solutions Business, TIL Ltd, ´Demand is likely to develop strongly as new investments in infrastructure is growing. Higher tonnage cranes are used in several application segments - urban infrastructure, oil and gas, engineering industries, cement plants, major irrigation projects, and power sectors like thermal, hydel, nuclear, windmill, etc.´
´Demand for PnC cranes is always going to remain strong because when new projects start, these cranes are required to handle small and medium jobs. Infrastructure projects like metro, road and bridges will sustain the demand for PnCs,´ says Kunal Gala, Director, JNK Lifters. He adds, ´Mainly, F16 Franna cranes of 14-15T capacity and Hydra cranes are the standard machines in the current market, which have more demand. Higher capacity Franna cranes of up to 23T are also available, but the rent is much higher compared to the F16. So, not everyone buys Franna of higher capacity.´
Product and tech trends
The mobile crane market is dominated by PnCs. However, there is a perceptible shift towards application-based solutions where truck-mounted cranes and knuckle-boom cranes come in handy. Says Sudhir Chaudhary, General Manager - Sales, Hyva (India), ´We see this trend happening clearly. Reliability and safety of the equipment are the two major factors for this shift. The track record of PnC cranes is not so good in the market place. There are many companies, which have decided specifically that they will go only for truck-mounted cranes or knuckle-boom cranes due to their versatility compared to PnC cranes. Also, as the labour cost is going high in India, the demand for truck-mounted cranes will also go up.´
He further adds, ´We provide a complete solution from selection of the right crane for the application, to supplying, mounting and commissioning of the crane at the site, training the operators, and complete aftermarket support. We give references to our customers where they can go and study the complete aspects of these cranes. We also do demonstrations of our cranes so that the customers can understand how these cranes can be deployed for their operations. We are more like an adviser to them than a seller of machines.´
Gala pegs to differ. He says, ´Truck-mounted concept is not feasible in 16-20T range as far as rental is concerned. Hydra cranes can go anywhere, do the job and come back easily. They are made locally and spares are available easily. A Hydra is simple in design, easy to operate and maintain, and travels distance. The shift towards truck-mounted cranes is ideal in higher capacity, above 25T.´
He adds, ´Another trend is the shift towards telehandlers, which can be used for multi-purpose applications with different attachments. But the rent of telehandler is quite high and the machine is completely imported. In the aftersales service also, it will be very difficult to get the service and spare parts for telehandlers, whereas Hydra can get a good service and can source spare parts indigenously. ´
Raina is on the same page. According to him, ´PnCs will remain equipment for low tonnage and small time material handling. The users shall be primarily retail hirers and it will be used as a backup crane alongside the bigger cranes. It certainly is not a product of the future but there will always be a market for it.´ Rains adds,´As the work on metros and infrastructure projects including power projects picks up, the material handling methods will undergo change. Truck-mounted cranes like knuckle-boom cranes will find increasing acceptance. Truck cranes and telehandlers are the products of the future. The growth in the crane industry shall come from different types of cranes and to that extent the competition shall grow.´
Says Sood, ´PnC cranes along with slew, outriggers, interlocks; self-carrying of loads with inbuilt safety systems is the trendsetter in Indian cranes market.
Unlike high-capacity cranes where safety features always played a major role, the PnC segment, which has been historically dominating the mobile crane market, has not got the due focus. Thanks to growing awareness, that latest series launched by OEMs boast of a variety of safety features. According to Sood, ´Safety is a major focus in the Pixef series. There are several interlocks, microprocessor-based controllers, which controls the safety aspects of the Pixef. Anti-collision sensor, rear view camera, slew lock, automatic cut off, third wrap indicator, various alarms, LMI system, etc. These are all features that were so far known on high capacity expensive cranes. But the smaller cranes are the ones which work in large numbers in work sites resulting in high risk and frequent accidents due to the inherent design deficiency especially with respect to stability. To make smaller cranes safer is a need now universally acknowledged and strongly demanded by customers. This has inspired TIL, a leader in mobile cranes for over five decades, to demonstrate once again its manufacturing prowess and design a ´safe´ versatile crane for multipurpose applications with sharp focus on competitive total cost of ownership. Pixef has also been awarded ´The India Design Mark (I Mark)´ recognising the good design of the product and symbolising product excellence in terms of its functionality, quality, safety, sustainability and innovation.´
He adds, ´TIL´s Pixef is a new product, which offers all safety features that one normally finds in higher tonnage capacity cranes. Slew lock sensors of different kinds, load moment indicator (LMI) system, automatic motion cut-off mechanism based on signals from LMI, etc. are all provided on this new model with dual counterweights for better stability of the machine. This makes Pixef best-in-class in safety, particularly in the capacity range that is known for very high number of accidents.´ According to him, being of a dimension comparable to a truck, Pixef can travel at a speed of 35 km/hr, with PnC duty at a speed of 5 km/hr, which is ideal with respect to safety and stability of the machine. ´Besides these features, Pixef has a capability to carry 4T load on its deck at a speed of 15 kmph - this is a unique feature that greatly enhances revenue and total cost of ownership. Maintenance of the machine is also extremely easy and the design of the machine has created easy accessibility of all components for regular service and inspections´ adds Sood.
According to him, the unique feature of the equipment is enabling the machine to replace two traditional tractor mounted 15T hydra cranes in many operations besides the fact that Pixef has a 4T carry on deck facility. These features make the product unique in its class and thus it is poised to play a game changing role in 15T PnC segment, at the same time, offers a significant competitive advantage to its users in terms of total cost of ownership.´ He adds, ´Pixef has rapidly gained confidence of customers such as ITD Cementation, Reliance and currently deployed in several critical work sites.´
Says Raina, ´Material handling business at Escorts is not about selling PnC cranes as just an equipment but handling material in a safe, economical and efficient manner. We, at Escorts, have been able to move 40 per cent of the market from PnC segment to TRX (safe cranes) segment. In PnC, improvements are being made to make the cranes safer and stable within the available limits of the platform. The TRX series delivers a much better reach, higher productivity, and fuel efficiency with much better stability and safety. The geometry of these cranes gives an impressive load-chart, load visibility and mobility. For these very reasons, major refineries, metros and other projects allow only TRX type cranes to be used. The leading EPC contractors have shifted from PnC to TRX series only.´
According him, the user segments are looking for total safety of man and material. Besides, a safe design fool-proofing, against the abuse by the operator, is also getting incorporated as a standard feature. Safe load indicators are becoming a standard feature in high tonnage cranes. Raina says, ´Any additional feature increases the cost of the crane and Indian market being price sensitive is getting the customers to pay for these features always remain a struggle but the customers are increasingly paying for the same as these features have become a must rather than an option.´
Says Amit Gossain, EVP - Marketing, Business Development and Corporate Affairs, JCB India, ´We are seeing major technological reforms in the industry as it not only ensures better productivity but also ensures that the work is completed in a much safer manner. Safety has always been a critical component in the construction equipment (CE) industry. JCB gives utmost importance to safety of its operators and hence, JCB designs machines which offer best safety features.´ He adds, ´JCB Liftall new 15T model 1553 comes with wider foot print, which ensures more stability even in case of high lifting duties.´
Escorts offers PnC range from 10-15T and the TRX series goes up to 23T. Says Raina, ´We do offer cranes between 16T to 25T at present and a few more will be added in the near future. ´The maximum demands exist in 12T and 15T categories because these cranes can be deployed for a broad band of applications, offer specific solutions and best return on investments. Our market share in crane segment today stands at around 54 per cent.´ He adds, ´Although there are no stringent norms on engine as yet, we have moved to Bharat Stage III on emission front. The structural design and boom has undergone change in design and the manufacturing is done using modern manufacturing technology and processes. Some features have been added to make the cranes more versatile from application point of view.´
TIL offers an unique Pixef (15T PnC crane), which is rapidly gaining popularity and playing a game changing role in the 15T PnC segment. Says Sood, ´Unique feature of Pixef among the cranes of this capacity is its 360o (non-continuous) slew capability. A huge advantage is faster cycle times - which improve productivity of the crane. It also substantially reduces the need of unsafe operations that are necessary in competing models to reposition the load by driving the crane. Pixef can slew and can be positioned to reach out a load without driving.´ Sood adds, ´TIL offers 15-75T indigenously manufactured mobile cranes both in rough terrain as well as truck crane variants. TIL also distributes complete range of higher capacity mobile as well as crawler cranes of Grove-Manitowoc.´
JCB currently offers four models, the Liftall 1253, Liftall 1202, Liftall 1554 and Liftall 1553. All models are powered by a 49 hp Kirloskar engine and the first two have a maximum lift capacity of 12T, while the third model has a lift capacity of 15T. They are all produced at the company´s Ballabgarh plant. Both the JCB Liftall 15T models 1553 and the 1554 can lift maximum load of 15T at a distance of 1.6 m from the centre of the front wheels. Liftall 1553 is a three part slotted boom, which provides more working radius and productivity due to its auto rope self-compensation mechanism. Liftall 1554 is a four-part slotted boom.
According to Gossain, JCB Liftall machines have been designed to deliver six key advantages. ´This new offering from JCB is fitted with highly fuel-efficient powerful Kirloskar BS-III diesel engine, which results in 15 per cent less fuel compared to other players - resulting in Rs 75,000 saving in a span of five years.´
Highlighting on some of the noticeable features of JCB Liftall range, Gossain has this to say. ´The Liftall 15T can lift a load of 5.2T up to a height of 13 m. This machine can do the higher truss erection jobs and can stack a 40 ft container up to the fourth level with much ease, speed and safety than 12T models. This results in more annual usage of machine compared to the competition. This is fitted with rugged straight axle mechanical transmission, which results in Rs 100,000 saving in the same span due to its reliable rear axle and crown wheel pinion. Wider foot print of Liftall ensures more stability even in the case of high lifting duties. Spacious and ergonomic Liftall cabin ensures the operator comfort by ergonomic controls, insulated ceiling, better visibility and large tool box, which is sufficient for overnight sleep. This feature is particularly very important for the hirers, wherein the operator has to stay for months at the remote sites.´
According to Raina, the rental market comprises more than 70 per cent of the total demand and it is expected to stay as outsourcing will continue to remain the preferred route of the contractors. Says Gala, ´The rental market comprises many small players who handle Hydra type PnC cranes, mostly present in all small cities. People generally rent to local market only, not to far away locations. Only for long term projects (1-2 year and more) we send machines to far away locations. Franna cranes are not there in every small cities. Currently, the rental has come down due to lack of projects and oversupply.´
Says Sood, ´A large share of PnC cranes work in the rental segment and this trend is like to continue even with the growth in demand.´ Challenges
Faridabad has always been a manufacturing hub for PnC cranes where more than 75 per cent of the cranes get manufactured. Says Raina, ´The major problem comes out of spikes/steep variance in demand. The uncertainty makes the job difficult for the vendors as also the OEMs as the delivery time expectancy is very low. The availability of semi-skilled labour for OEMs as well as vendors is a task too.´
Says Gala, ´Growth is expected in future because after the slowdown, once new projects come up there will be increase in demand. With new projects are expected to come up in roads and power sector, there is definitely going to be a demand growth. However, we will be focusing on higher capacity cranes because small capacity cranes yield less rental compared to bigger ones.´
Gossain sums up on a high note. ´In the CE segment, material handling equipment and cranes play a vital role due to the rising demand from various sectors like ports, airports, construction, real estate, warehouses and rentals, etc. The past couple of years have seen a decline in the demand of all the CE due to delays in project execution. However, now that the new government has taken charge, we expect the sector to move forward.´
- Agith G Antony with
inputs from Sudheer Vathiyath
The rental has come down due to lack of projects and oversupply.´
Once the projects pick up, there will be demand for Hydra.
But big players like those who have 50-60 cranes will not buy a Hydra. Smaller players will buy Hydra because it is low in investment and can get good returns in smaller projects, says Kunal Gala, Director, JNK Lifters.
Brief us on the range of PnCs offered by JNK Lifters.
In PnC type, we currently offer only telehandlers and Franna cranes from Escorts and ACE. In Franna, the F16 is fast moving because of its demand in medium capacity handling and long life.
Brief us on the rental scenario.
The rental market comprises many small players who handle Hydra type pick-n-carry cranes, mostly present in all small cities. People generally rent to local market only. Currently the rental has come down due to lack of projects and oversupply.
The rent for F16 Franna is Rs 80,000-1,00,000 per month while the cost of one machine is Rs 23-24 lakh. The rent for 23 T Franna is Rs 1.25-1.30 lakh while the cost is above Rs 30 lakh.
Who are your major customers?
Major infrastructure companies like L&T, Reliance, etc are our major customers. Price is now standard; there is no much difference across the brands.
How do you look at the demand-supply scenario for PnCs from 16T to 20T and up to 25T?
The demand for 16T-20T will be there, but in above 25T class, the demand is less because there are telescopic cranes available in this range. They have better operational efficiency like higher boom, truck-mounted, and 360o rotation. Also, the rental rates will be high for above 25T range of PnC cranes.
How do you look at the safety issues in PnCs?
Franna cranes are safer than Hydra. Now there are safety load indicators (SLIs) coming with each crane. Every Hydra and Franna now comes with an SLI. If one maintains the SLI, then there are no safety issues.
What support do you get from OEMs?
We get spare parts, services and all necessary support from the OEMs.
Rent for an F16 Franna is Rs 80,000-1,00,000 per month while the cost is Rs 23-24 lakh. The rent for 23 T Franna is Rs 1.25-1.30 lakh and the cost is above Rs 30 lakh.
Engine: Fuel efficient Ashok Leyland 4-cylinder diesel engine complies with the BS-III (CEV) emission norms. The engine generates 74.3 kW power @ 2,200 rpm. Structure: Fabricated from high tensile steel plates and sections. Boom: Crane boom is full power, fully synchronised telescopic type.
PIXEF is a multifunctional crane with microprocessor controlled safety
Unique carry on deck that can carry 4T load @ 15 kmph speed.
360¦ slew (non-continuous) capability
Wide front screen for driver´s visibility
Excellent pick and move capacity
180¦ loading / unloading on outriggers
Full powered synchronised boom with 15 m tip height
Power shift torque converter transmission
Rear view camera
Designed with minimum front and rear boom overhang