Big modules demand big mobiles

21 January 2019

Sotiris Kanaris visited Asiagroup’s offices in Singapore and talked with business development manager Jeffrey Poh about the company and the local market, where a government focus on volumetric modular construction, and on infrastructure projects, is pushing demand for high capacity all terrains.

After a couple of tough years, demand for cranes in Singapore is recovering. With a fleet of 80 mobile cranes in the country, Asiagroup is involved in a number of public and private projects.

Two Liebherr cranes, a 500t and a 100t, from its fleet are being used to dismantle container gantries at a container port, as the government wants to move the port to a different location. The company has also supplied cranes for the maintenance of a power plant.

A major infrastructure project underway in the country is the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS), which is currently in Phase 2. Poh says this project requires heavy lifting, for example for the handling of tunnel boring machines, and heavy transport.

The most typical application for which Asiagroup’s cranes are deployed is the erection of tower cranes. Poh says the type of mobile cranes used for this application has altered over time, because of changes in construction practices.

He explains that there is a government initiative for the use of Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC), with the aim to improve productivity and safety at construction sites.

PPVC involves heavier lifts than ‘traditional’ construction, therefore the tower cranes being used are larger and of higher capacity. As a result, the erection of these tower cranes has created demand for larger capacity mobile cranes with higher reach.

The largest capacity crane in Asiagroup’s fleet is a 1,000t Terex AC 1000, which has been used in various refinery projects. The company’s fleet comprises cranes from various manufacturers, including Terex, Liebherr, Manitowoc, Tadano, Kato, and Kobelco.

Due to crane age limitations for government projects, set at a maximum of 10–15 years, Asiagroup has to regularly refresh its fleet. The average age of cranes in its fleet is seven years. The latest additions are a 300t Grove GMK6300L, a 250t Grove GMK5250L, a 100t Grove GMK410, a 130t Terex Explorer 5500 and a 220t Demag AC 220-5.

Poh says the Singaporean crane market is very competitive. While rental rates dropped for a few years, they are now picking up again. He adds that most rental companies offer wet hire, but that the industry finds it difficult to persuade young people to become operators. For public projects, which are the majority of the projects in the country, the operators have to have more than five years of experience.

Asiagroup expects demand for cranes in Singapore to increase further in the near future, especially because of the anticipated recovery of the oil and gas industry.

The company also has subsidiaries in Malaysia and Myanmar, with cranes up to 650t capacity. It started operating in Myanmar three years ago and currently has a fleet of 30 cranes and 46 lines of trailers. As for the reasons behind the entry into this market, Poh says in Myanmar there is a need for infrastructure and power stations.

Asiagroup has been in Malaysia for longer and has established a strong reputation there. Talking about this market, Poh says: “In Malaysia the market was down after the change of government, but we believe that it will recover. We see the potential for big infrastructure projects.”

Anticipating big projects across all the markets it operates, Asiagroup is ready to capture the opportunities and continue to grow its business.

In 2016, AsiaGroup expanded its fleet with the first Grove GMK5250L in Asia