Stronger fleets, in a stronger Fleet File

17 August 2017

As the crane rental industry around the world leans towards recovery—we saw confidence at ConExpo in the USA, and, as described in this issue, at Vertikal Days in the UK—many this year will be hoping to see fleets upgrading and growing.

As crane owners reshape their fleets to meet the demands of their customers, one of the best ways they can show what they can do is by taking part in Cranes Today's Fleet File. Uniquely, Fleet File is split by crane type and capacity, so it shows not just who has the biggest fleet, but the abilities of every fleet. It is a showcase for a crane owner with a handful of small truck cranes that meet local customer needs, as much as it is for one with hundreds of machines.

This year's form has now gone live online, at Last year, we had one of our strongest Fleet Files. After some help from our marketing department, reminding crane owners to fill in the form, we were pleased to run a detailed, global survey, entirely consisting of up-to-date entries.

In recent years, we've been working to refine and improve how Fleet File describes all fleets: not just truck cranes and crawlers, but now also splitting up our categories for rough terrains, tower cranes, and even compact cranes. These were all aimed at better describing the jobs fleets can handle.

In the past, our tower crane survey was split up by crane type. Now, like our mobile crane categories, it is split up by capacity. We chose these categories based on discussion with tower crane manufacturers and users. While it's impossible to have each capacity correspond to a specific job type, and there will undoubtedly be some overlap, I think these new bands are more useful than our previous classification by type.

The smallest tower cranes, under 8t, correspond roughly to cranes for housebuilding, including both self erectors and traditional tower cranes. The next category, from 8t–25t, include cranes for high rise construction, and for sites where more reach is required. Above that, from 25t–40t are cranes for infrastructure projects. Finally, cranes over 40t cover special applications. We added a new category in 2015,

compact cranes. In the past, we'd included some minicrane fleets in our smallest crawler crane capacity bands. While some of these cranes do indeed run on crawler tracks, they don't compete for the same jobs as, say, a 40t lattice boom crawler crane. Now, owners of these cranes can list them in their own categories, making clear the sort of jobs they may be used for (and not confusing our rankings of crawler fleets).

Finally, we split up how we cover telecrawlers. For most of these cranes, they should now be listed alongside rough terrain cranes. I think this more accurately reflects the jobs both crane types are competing for. For the biggest telecrawlers, over 600t, we've left them with crawler cranes, as they are typically competing for the same jobs on wind farms.

In 2016, we didn't include rankings. In past years, we provided lists of the biggest companies by number of cranes in their fleet. As a free-to-enter, open-to-all, survey based purely on respondents reports of their own fleet, this posed a problem. At the top of the rankings, we often missed companies who, for one reason or another, had not filled in the survey form. At the other end of the rankings, we included companies who were bigger in the field than anyone else who had filled in the form in their region, but who may not actually have been focused on the equipment listed.

We'll bring back the rankings, if there is significant interested from fleet owners, and if we see enough responses to make it more meaningful than it has been. Until then, I think that the basic listings provide more useful information on who has the fleet that fits an end user's needs. To put together a ranking like this based only on historical data or a guess (however educated) strikes me as misleading, at best.

For the fourth year running, we will be publishing Fleet File as a standalone supplement, alongside our December issue.