The potential benefits of fibre rope, versus the steel wire rope routinely used in the industry, have for a long time been a focus for crane manufacturers and rope experts. When I started on this magazine, a little over ten years ago, crane engineers were considering ways to overcome problems with how rope would (or rather, would not easily) spool on the drum. Today, those issues appear to have largely been fixed, not by major changes to crane design as we then thought, but by new ropes that can largely be used in the same way as steel wire rope.
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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 this issue of Cranes Today was being written, London was hit by one of its worst disasters in decades. A fire took hold in the Grenfell Tower, a social housing block in one of the city's richest areas, Kensington, killing around 80 people. The details emerging from the police investigation—which treats the disaster as a potential manslaughter case—are horrifying.
The crane industry is at once ever-present in the public eye, yet largely invisible.
The crane industry's long march out of the slump caused by the global financial crisis continues like the final stages of the Compestela pilgrimage – a painful and exhausting crawl on bloody hands and knees.
As the worldwide construction-equipment event cycle evolves, it has become harder and harder for any event other than bauma in Munich to really claim to represent the global industry. ConExpo in Las Vegas certainly makes a good showing, but with launches in a hard market recently focused on the German show a year before, it is hard for it to claim to be anything other than the biggest show in the Americas, not a transatlantic contender for the global crown.
The wind-turbine industry has provided the push for some of the most exciting innovations in the crane and special transport industries. From Grove's unique GTK telescoping-tower mobile cranes, featured on the cover of this issue, or Liebherr's giant LTR telecrawler, through to some of the most highly optimised crawlers available, the sector has pushed the boundaries of what can be lifted.
I write this comment as the Chinese New Year is celebrated. Like in many cultures, people in China have a series of traditions that say that, as your new year goes, so goes the rest of the year.
This month, as the year gets underway, we have articles looking back over the past 20 years, and forward to the year ahead. With ConExpo in Las Vegas, we also take a first look at some of the cranes we expect to see at the show.
At the start of this year, many of us would have been hoping for the upturn in world construction that we've been waiting for since 2009. It doesn't look much more likely now than it did 12 months ago. At the same time, the crane industry faces ongoing challenges from regulators and politicians.
In recent years, we've been working to refine Fleet File. This year, we've not made any further changes to the survey itself. We now have sections for wheeled mobile cranes, rough terrains, crawlers, tower cranes and compact cranes, all split up into capacity classes that broadly indicate the jobs they can take on. I'm pleased to say that we've this year got enough responses to provide a decent snapshot of the industry, without including any previous years' entries.