Heavy lifting: a roundup of developments in 2016
So much has happened in the cranes segment this year that it can be hard to keep up, so here are the highlights
We have just witnessed a year that has been considerably more dynamic than most for the crane industry, the mobile and crawler crane segment specifically, and crane activity in the GCC and wider Middle East region.
2016 kicked off with the trial of engineers and two government employees in Saudi Arabia over the deaths of 107 people following the crane collapse at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. Crane accidents occur all over the world, with a handful this year in New York alone, by the incident certainly highlighted how crane operations in the region still have room for improvement.
The year has also seen the shake-up of a number of prominent mobile and crawler crane manufacturers, including Manitowoc Cranes, which became an independent public company and appointed Barry Pennybacker as president and CEO in January. The move was in part prompted by the desire streamline the business from the bottom up to bring it back to profitability.
On the plus side, Manitowoc achieved considerable success over the course of the 2016 with its Grove-branded all-terrain cranes, beginning with the purchase of 24 units in April by Kuwait’s Integrated Logistics, which according to chairman Jassim Mustafa Boodai is a result of growing work with the oil and gas segment.
Continuing the spree was a purchase of 24 Grove rough-terrain units in July by Orascom Construction, whose equipment director, Mamdouh Fahmy, attributed to the utility of the machines in tough desert conditions on their job sites and their manoeuvrability in confined spaces.
Finally, Kuwait’s Arabi Enertech acquired 13 Grove cranes for use on primarily oil and gas projects in Kuwait, with CEO Khalid Behbehani also remarking on his company’s response to the oil and gas sector’s rising demand for heavier equipment.
Indeed the general view is that is a rise in the demand for larger capacity cranes, as well as a swing in the direction of mobile cranes, which can be used in a wider variety of applications, including — with the emergence of luffing jib extensions for telescopic — jobs that were previously reserved for crawler cranes.
Another trend is the shift towards a greater role for rental companies, which again, thanks to their versatility, favours all-terrain cranes. The rental segment is also generating a regular supply of orders for producers due to the advantages of having machines still covered by warranty in intensive of rental scenarios.
The year has also been a hectic one for Terex Cranes, as it found itself caught in a bidding war between Konecranes and Zoomlion, before both proposals fell through. Going ahead is the sale of Terex’s Demag material handling cranes unit (a low performance Terex unit) to Konecranes, which should streamline Terex overall.
Terex Cranes also appointed Steve Filipov as president as it looks to shrink its manufacturing base and reduce its workforce by about 30% to accommodate lower demand.
However, the company is also pushing product development, including with the return of the Demag brand of all-terrain cranes in the guise of an updated family of five-axle machines with 11 models ranging from 100t to 1,200t in capacity. Terex Cranes has also refreshed its local representation with the appointment of Jörg Müller as its senior sales manager Middle East.
Another regional development is Hitachi Construction Machinery Middle East’s appointed of Middle East Crane Equipment Trading (MECET), as the exclusive UAE distributor and full service provider for its Hitachi Sumitomo crawler cranes.
In crawler cranes, Link-Belt has also increased the upper weight limit of its telecrawler line-up with the addition of the all-new TCC-2500, a 250-short-ton or 227-metric-tonne telescopic crawler crane.
Concluding the year on a high, Kuwait’s Integrated Logistics made a further order for 31 Terex Cranes units, including a Demag CC 3800-1 crawler crane, 20 Terex AC 100/4L all-terrain cranes and 10 Terex Explorer 5600 all-terrain cranes — joining a fleet of 2,000 for work across the region.
The rental segment, particularly regarding oil and gas, is therefore very much alive.