Choosing a look, choosing names

14 February 2019

Sometimes, how a thing is presented, how it looks or how we name it, shapes how we think of it, even if the thing itself is unchanged. Think, for example, of how 'premium' and 'basic' products are packaged at the supermarket: glossy packaging, metallic embossing, and an emphasis on ingredients for 'premium' goods; primary colours, simple design, and a focus on price and value for 'basic' goods. Often, the gap between the two is not as great as the name or the package might suggest.

The importance of appearance is on my mind this month, as we launch a new look for the magazine. This project has been lead by our designer, Alpa Shanks, who developed the lay out over the course of months, in between her busy routine working on laying out each issue of Cranes Today and a number of other magazines.

Part of our aim was to keep the magazine looking fresh and exciting. I think Alpa has achieved that. But while the main focus of the redesign has been on how we present the magazine, it also includes some key changes in how we shape articles. In our news pages, we've scrapped the format for medium length 'running news' pieces. Instead, we will have more space for longer news features, with dedicated columns for shorter news-in-brief pieces. I hope that will mean we can include news from as many sources as possible, keeping readers up to date on important news, while giving space to look at selected stories in more detail.

We've also added a few new design elements, letting us pick out key facts and quotes from stories. On one hand, this is a design choice: it breaks up the page, making it look more appealing. But it has a practical purpose too: I hope it helps highlight what an article is about, and guides readers to the pieces most relevant to them.

At the core though, everything about Cranes Today remains the same. We stlll aim to keep you up-to-date with all the key news across the industry. We still want our features to be based on original reporting and interviews with industry experts. It was one of our features this month that got me thinking about the importance of how we name things. In his piece on low-emissions power for mobile cranes, p28, Julian Champkin quotes Tadano's Martin Lottes describing Spierings' cranes as 'almost an all terrain'. Koos Spierings replies that their cranes are actually all terrains.

I think the best way to describe these cranes—and others where a self-assembling tower is mounted on a purpose-built road-going carrier—would ackowledge them as a form of all terrain, but a very specialised one. We don't, for example, make a strong category distinction between telescopic boom all terrain designed to work with a boom bracing system and those designed to work without one; at the same time though, when describing different cranes in the same category and capacity class, we will explain features like this, and how that affects their suitability for specific jobs.

The name we often use for these cranes—truck-mounted tower cranes—is also a bit misleading. Normally, when we talk about a truck-mounted crane, we mean a standard commercial carrier with a crane mounted on top; we don't mean a truck crane with a purpose-built carrier. Similarly, there are very few other instances of tower cranes that turn up for a single lift, are erected in minutes, and as quickly dismantled and transported to the next job.

How then should we name these cranes? I haven't yet come to a decision on this, and would welcome readers' input on the question. But I think a good starting point might be to call them something like 'tower-type all terrains' or 'tower truck cranes'. The latter approach would parallel how we name cranes comprising a modular lattice boom on a specialised carrier: lattice boom truck cranes. What do you think?

Will North, Editor