Looking back

17 December 2018

This month, I've been taking a look back over our news coverage for 2018. There have been quite a few significant developments over the year.

At the start of the year, Kobelco announced a new series of 300t crawlers cranes, able to lift up to 350t in super heavy lift configuration. These cranes, while launched in stages around the world, have the potential to be strong challengers in this important capacity class.

Shortly after Kobelco announced these new cranes, the Japanese company and Manitowoc announced they would be ending their 'rebadging' agreeement. Now, Manitowoc would build its own smaller crawlers; it quickly made good on this promise, with a new 100t crawler launched in the spring.

Link-Belt has launched a flurry of new cranes: a new 100USt rough terrain, a new 300USt crawler, and, most recently, a new USbuilt all terrain, the AT|175.

Going back to Manitowoc, the company announced another change to its international production, with a new Potain tower crane factory near Pune.

Also in India, Tadano announced it would be forming a partnership with Indian crane manufacturer Escorts. The news of this deal came shortly after the company took a stake in US manufacturer Manitex. The aims of that deal are slightly unclear, but look likely to build on the companies' sales networks and component supply.

There has been a lot of focus in the tower crane sector on luffers. Recom Moritsch has one of its new luffers working in Canada for Concrane. The company also bought another Italian tower crane company, GP Autolift. Jaso has a new 700tm-class luffer, the J780PA, which is currently at work in Sydney, Australia. We looked at this increasingly competitive class of cranes in our July issue, with cranes from Wolff, Liebherr, and Comansa, alongside the new Jaso.

Terex launched two new tower cranes this autumn, a new luffer, the CTL 272-18, and a new flattop, the CTT 202. These both make use of a new anti-collision system from French manufacturer AMCS, designed in line with expected new EU standards.

I see a trend towards increasing integration of controls, sensors, and warning systems. One recent example of this is Fassi's FX Link system, developed in collaboration with Volvo Trucks Italy, which I had an in depth look at, at the Fassi factory in Albino, Bergamo. I'll describe that in more detail in our next issue. The key selling point of the system is that it allows information to be shared from truck to crane controls and vice versa, so an operator can, for example, monitor fuel levels while operating the crane, or see on their dashboard that the crane is properly stowed before driving off.

There have been some other interesting innovations in smaller crane classes. Hiab has spent the year building its UK service network with a series of acquisitions and other investments. At the launch of its new London depot, the company showed a new crane installation that uses the company's ePTO electric power take-off system to mount to a crane on a compressed natural gas carrier, for emissions free working in cities.

Palfinger has developed a new range of knuckleboom cranes, mounted on crawler carriers, that promise to allow new ways of working. Kato continued its vigorous re-entry into the EU market, with more cranes in its successful new city crane range.

Böcker launched new cranes, and announced a new UK distribution business. The company's former UK partner, Kranlyft, announced that it would be selling a new range of aluminium boom cranes, from Klaas, in the UK. In last week's online news, written as we were closing this issue in print, we covered the ongoing development of Liebherr's work on synthetic ropes. The new rope, SoLITE, developed with Teufelberger, has completed testing and, the company says, will be launched on a new tower crane at Bauma. My hunch is that this will be a fairly big crane, to more markedly show the benefits of the new rope. But I may well be wrong.

One of the most encouraging changes this year has been the development of operator certification, on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, after 25 years of work, the cranes and derricks rule has now gone into affect, with the changes asked for by the industry taken into account by OSHA. And, in Europe, ESTA's European Crane Operators' Licence, has been piloted and looks ready for launch in 2019.