Competing on technique, not size

16 March 2020

For more than a decade, the world’s heavy lift specialists have been competing as to who is going to manufacture the biggest crane with the largest lifting capacity.

The latest launch in the extremely high capacity class was Sarens’s SGC-250, also known as Big Carl, in 2018. This crane has a maximum load moment of 250,000tm and maximum capacity of 5,000t.

The first job for the Sarens SGC-250, is at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the UK. It has recently completed its first major lift on site, where it is planned to perform more than 700 lifts over the next four years.

Instead of introducing an even larger crane, rival Mammoet's latest model targets set-up time and space required on site with an innovative assembly process. The Focus30, currently being fabricated, has specific features to allow for vertical assembly of the boom system on a small assembly area. It has a maximum load moment capacity of 30,000tm and lifting capacity of 1,000t at 30m with 90m main boom. In this issue, you can find an interview with Jacques Stoof, global director market development and innovation at Mammoet, where he gives details about the new crane.

These two Low Countries companies have revolutionised the crane and special transport market with numerous innovations over many decades. It is surprising how a region with a population of just over 29 million people has been in the forefront of engineering.

There are many other cases of innovative products designed and developed in Belgium and the Netherlands, like Spierings’ mobile tower cranes. Apart from introducing a new crane type to the market, they have also developed the world's first mobile crane that can both travel and work on zero emissions, the SK487-AT3 City Boy.

The newest Dutch crane manufacturer we have visited is Hoeflon. The company manufactures mini cranes up to 9t and has been experiencing strong growth in recent years. During my visit, I have learned a lot about the company and its products, information which you can find in the relevant profile in this issue.

In the Netherlands section, you will also be able to read about Nooteboom’s historic ties with the crane market and its current offering for it. This long-standing special transport manufacturer has designed a number of ground-breaking products, so ground-breaking that they influenced changes in local and European laws.

With a country size of only 41,543 sq km, less than a tenth of the size of the state of California, the Netherlands is also home to a number of world-renowned component and accessories manufacturers; as well as crane rental and trading companies. This shows that in this industry, size doesn’t always matter.