Global weakness and the shift to rental in cranes

Softness in global markets and technological developments are driving a renaissance in Middle East mobile and crawler crane activity, while the increasing dominance of rental in the heavy lift segment is good for all

COMMENT, PMV, Crawler cranes, Gcc, Middle east, Mobile cranes

In this month’s special report, PMV Middle East tackles the mobile and crawler cranes segment from a number of different angles, beginning with a summary of the activities of the major manufacturers in what has been a busy year.

What is clear is that the cranes segment has entered a period of turbulence, with the softening of traditionally strong markets like North America and a shift by contractors from crawler to all-terrain mobile cranes.

The first of these two trends could ultimately benefit end users in the Middle East as softness is other parts of the world is raising the global profile of the region, and in turn encouraging crane manufacturers to pay more attention to the demands of the market.

The second trend has been ongoing for a little while, as technological improvements to the operation of mobile cranes have raised lifting capacities of such machines, which nonetheless retain their inherent versatility.

We can see the culmination of both these trends the news and announcements during 2016, including large orders for all-terrain and rough-terrain cranes from Manitowoc, in Terex’s revival of the Demag brand with respect to all-terrain cranes, and Liebherr’s launch of a range of rough-terrain cranes, with its eye specifically on the Middle East.

Another trend is the growing strength of the rental segment in the region. One major operator commented how the balance of ownership to rental has shifted from 80:20 to 20:80 over their last decade of operations.

There are a couple of reasons for this — not least being the fact that the drop in oil price, despite recovery, has severely hurt the cash flow of construction contractors in the region. Another reason is safety, and the advantages of having a highly qualified and professional lifting operator carry out your critical lifts on the jobsite for you. In many case, lifting operators will have better equipment, better trained staff and much more experience.

Contractors in the region have come to appreciate the wide range of advantages that the plug-and-play style services of dedicated lifting operators bring to their operations.

Not least is cost, which in the case of having super-size cranes in your fleet is considerable, and the second is safety. In fact, perhaps the most tangible evidence for the level of safety in commercial lifting operations is the fact that most accidents on site now involve small lifts.

The fact is heavy lifting is by-and-large now conducted so safely, that the risks have subsided — so rental is here to stay.

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