Quick and easy

28 December 2017

Demand for self-erectors is increasing all over the world thanks to their flexibility and mobility, even when they are full erected. Paola De Pascali reports.

Often mounted on a towed trailer, self-erectors are small tower cranes able to erect themselves. Recent models offer improved flexibility, wireless remote controls, and mobility with powered trailers .

Arcomet Group has been manufacturing self-erectors for 50 years and recently launched the new A50 Eco during the Matexpo show in September 2017 in Kortrijk, Belgium.

“With this new A50 Eco, Arcomet is launching a new generation of cranes, with a series of smart technological solutions and innovations that will find their way to the rest of the range in the coming years,” says Gerd Vandecruys, marketing and product manager. “The A50 Eco is one of the largest self-erecting cranes on the market with an impressive jib length of 50m, seven different hook heights up to 36m and a maximum capacity of 8t, with the ability to work on 32A, 40A or 63A. The A50 Eco is the first model in our product range to work with separate extension masts. There are five extension masts measuring 2.4m each, fitting the width of a truck, and allowing for transport savings. Working with extension masts also reduces the transport length of the crane.

“The slogan used to launch our A50 is Simply Smart and that actually embodies the Arcomet philosophy. We avoid unneeded complexity and stick to a durable basic concept that is characteristic for the quality of the brand. Less complexity often means fewer breakdowns and that is what matters on the jobsite. If the construction crane is down, it jeopardizes the logistics of the entire site. We incorporate smart technological solutions and innovations that facilitate not only working with the crane like indication of load and position on the remote control, but also the erection and dismantling of the machine.

“Today, our product range includes the T33 Eco City with 30m telescopic jib, 4t as maximum lifting capacity, 23.5m hook height; the A40 Eco City with 40m jib, 4t as maximum lifting capacity, 30.5m hook height; the A45 Eco City with 45m jib, 5t max, 30.5m hook height; the A47 Eco City with 47m jib, 6t max, 30.5m hook height; the A50 Eco with 50m jib, 8t max, 36m hook height.”

Arcomet Chairman Philippe Cohet outlines the history of Arcomet Group: “We started working in Belgium and today we are active in two continents, Europe and North America, and three domains for tower cranes such as distribution, service and rental. As a manufacturer, we are ideally placed to service, repair or even fully refurbish used cranes.

“Over the last couple of years we evaluated how to further develop our business. I’m glad that we got a momentum to launch new products.” Cohet adds that the market for Arcomet self-erectors is mostly limited to Benelux and Germany, which are the main users of selferectors. But Arcomet Group is looking to expand the offer to other markets.

“After struggling with some very unfavourable market conditions between 2009 and 2014 due to a global financial crisis, Arcomet Group is back on track,” says Cohet.

“The development strategy adopted by Arcomet Group is to design and manufacture new large capacity self-erecting tower cranes and to grow our rental and service activities organically or through acquisitions or partnerships in new countries.

“When I joined Arcomet in 2014, we had to focus our attention on the strengths of the company, facing some challenges at the same time. Due to the decline of market conditions with unfavourable rental rates, we had to take the decision to cease our activity in Asia with branches in Singapore and Hong Kong. Over the last years, we had seen an influx of Chinese cranes in these markets, which put pressure on the rental rates. Ultimately, we felt that our product offer with European-made equipment was no longer viable. We also decided to discontinue our rental activity through partners in Australia, as going forward we would no longer have a physical presence in the region to support it.

“Now we are investing in two areas: North-West Europe, comprising Belgium, UK, and Germany, where we are looking to expand our business in Scandinavia; and, North America.

“We have recently opened a new branch in Germany and started a new partnership in the UK. We have enhanced our self-erectors’ production with a new distribution, and thanks to these changes Arcomet Group is back to a decent profitability. The A47 and A50 Eco are relevant to keep our fleet active on the market and to show to our customers that our business is oriented in a longterm perspective. In terms of turnover, Arcomet will be 80 million euro this year, and it will be 10% more than last year in all markets.”

Mantis Cranes provides pedestrian-operated tower cranes to the rental market in the UK and Ireland. “Our self-erectors have jib lengths ranging from 23 and 45m and maximum capacities from 2 to 6t,” says Andy Stewart, Mantis Cranes national sales manager.

“This month we are excited to introduce a number of the new Potain Hup 40-30 self erectors to our fleet. This model will benefit our customers with a greater height on a 40m crane.”

The main benefits of our selferecting tower cranes are minimal siting costs; speedy mobilisation; ease of use; environmentally friendly, clean, quiet operation; delivery of materials directly to the position required; enhanced site safety due to less manual handling; self erecting tower cranes operate from one static position; less storage needs on site due to fixed position of the crane; and lower reinstatement costs.

Stewart adds: “We also have city tower cranes with jib lengths ranging from 25m–65m and maximum lifting capacities ranging from 2.5t–6t. We supply crane including block grabs, boat skips, crane forks, mortar tub and buckets, chain, web slings and safety nets.

“Mantis Cranes also offers crane sales to the global market and, depending on supply, can provide a refurbished crane at approximately 70% of the cost of a new crane.

We also operate an access machinery division, Mantis access, which provides bespoke access machinery.”

Italian based FB Gru has been manufacturing tower cranes and self-erecting cranes for 60 years.

“After the success of the GX251 model in 2013, to answer to the costumers needs, FB Gru renovates every years its fleet with at least two new models,” says Alessandro Butti, marketing manager at FB Gru. “This year the main innovation was the new GA727 with 2.5t as maximum load capacity. It is possible to equip this crane with a new PLC system, which also allows to lift 2.5t with 30° luffed jib. We also introduced the new GA138, which is a bigger and faster solution than the previous model, the GA136.

“95% of our production process is carried out by our team in our factories. Thanks to new software and hardware, the process can be faster and more efficient. The next step is the automatisation of the production process with new machines and robots.”

Butti says he is optimistic about the market. Revenue has increased more than 30% every year from 2013 and the company has found new customers and partners around the world. Butti adds: “We aim to enhance this network growing together in the future.”

Another Italian company, which manufactures tower and self erecting cranes is FMGru, established in 1920 as a family-run business. Giacomo Fuochi, general manager of FMGru, says that FMGru is designing a new self-erecting hydraulic crane, the 622 RBI – FA with a maximum lifting capacity of 1.8t and 600Kg at 20m height.

“The main benefits include that it’s easy to mount and to transport and to get work on site,” Fuochi says. “This machine can be suited for renovation works and roofing.” A recent model is the FM 1136 RBI with a maximum lifting capacity of 3t and 1.1t at 36m. It replaces the FM 1035 RBI and offers a new compact design.

Fuochi adds: “FMGru aims to design new hoists to enhance the performance of its range of cranes and to best serve customers’ need on job sites, offering more powerful winches with great speed. We can offer a new cab with an innovative system to ensure safety and to give a new look to the cranes, as well.

Regarding the market for self-erecting cranes, Fuochi says it is going well in North Europe, especially in Germany, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. “We also sell our cranes in Canada and we’ve started to see some activities in Africa (Algeria, Senegal, Congo, Ghana). Conversely, in East Europe the driving demand is towards second-hand machines. We always want to expand our network of dealers around the world to offer a good aftersales service.”

Dutch crane manufacturer Montarent has recently launched the Montalift M21-4WDS. “We combine the best of two worlds: the Potain MA21 and our own undercarriage,” says Marc Castricum, business development manager at Montarent.

“This crane has been developed in full cooperation with the team of Manitowoc.” One of the key features is that the M21-4WDS can be moved fully erected. “Since the introduction of the M21-4WDS in 2016 and its presentation at ConExpo in Las Vegas in 2017, we have sold five units in the Netherlands and Denmark and two units to the US,” says Castricum. “Although we have just started promoting and selling in the US market, we can already see that the M21-4WDS is filling a void and it is an interesting alternative for tele-handlers. We expect to sell at least one or two more cranes before the end of this year.

“We also see an uptake in the West European and Scandinavian market, our rental fleet 30 pcs, is fully booked and we have numerous requests for quotation for new and used machines.”

This resulted in the first sale of the new Cattaneo-CM221 crane last October, again with three or four quotations pending. Cor Koopmans, CEO at Montarent says: “During the recession, we broadened our product range with glass robots. We are the official dealer for the Winlet glass robot and like with the cranes, the market is quickly picking up. In general, sales are up and we expect this to continue in 2018.”

Italian based company Gavarini Group has been working in the lifting sector for more than 50 years. In 2008, Gavarini Group launched the Gapo, a compact remote-controlled self-propelled power machine. Since its launch, it has been upgraded with new technological features and functions.

Marco Gavarini, managing director says: ‘This hydrostatic machine has been designed to move static loads and Potain self-erecting cranes in confined spaces.

“These cranes are connected to axles on wheels and can be pulled by trucks. But when these machines need to work in confined spaces they work with Gapo, which can be mounted onto the trailer and put at work in a jobsite where the crane has to be mounted.”

Gapo has been showcased at ConExpo with the new Hup line, launched by Potain.

The name Gapo stands for GAvarini and POtain as both companies are partners. Gapo can move 20t selferecting cranes over difficult terrain and slopes up to 20% in several applications such as residential and industrial building, and civil engineering.

“This can be accomplished with a single operator using a remote control, to hook and move at a safe distance,” Gavarini says. “Gapo range includes three models which are different in lifting capacity and tractive force in order to meet our clients’ needs.”

In terms of market, Gavarini says: “Since the recession, business activities in Italy are not great and so lifting machine sales are drastically reduced since 2008. Crane sales have been mainly affected because of these machines are used for new buildings or renovation works. Many companies are still using the amount of cranes sold before the recession.

“Three-quarters of our production goes to foreign markets, including France, Germany and UK. In Europe we are seeing an increase of demand every year. This results in a production increase of 15% and that’s a good accomplishment as Gapo is a niche product. We have just started our business in the US and we are already seeing some activities so we expect a positive trend on that area.”

Jean-Pierre Zaffiro, global product director for self-erecting cranes at Manitowoc explains that when they developed the new Hup line, they wanted to make sure that the crane could be fitted with this Gapo system to ensure good mobility “When we launched our Hup line at Bauma we agreed with Gavarini to do a special promotion for Gapo,” says Zaffiro. “When our customers buy Hup self-erecting cranes, they can have a special price for the Gapo, as well. We have recently shipped the first Hup self-erecting crane with a Gapo to our US dealer, Bronson Crane.”

Earl Bronson, founder of Bronson Crane, said: “Because of the Hup cranes’ size, the ease of getting them into tight situations have been wonderful. We’re using the Gapo system on it and it’s opened up a new world. The customers we bare rent to love the crane for its hook height capability, the operation and its overall quality. My customers have been using the IGO and T series cranes for years, and they love this new Hup technology. The first Hup 40- 30 helped build an entire school. We moved that crane give times on the job site.”

Zaffiro explains that the new Hup line is still incomplete, and “it is going to be designed to be the future”.

“In the mid-term this Hup line is going to replace the IGO range that we started to launch to the market more than 15 years ago,” Zaffi ro says. “The replacement of the range started with the Hup 32-27, which debuted in 2016 and it is the fi rst model of this new range. The second model is the Hup 40-30, which have been launched in January 2017. These are the fi rst two models of this new Hup line but there will be other new models in the future.”

Zaffiro adds: “When we decided to launch the Hup line, we intensively discussed with our dealer partners on what would be the future for Potain selferecting cranes, considering that we are the number one worldwide manufacturer and we need to add exclusive new features. We involved our partners in the total project from the very start up to the official launch. They required cranes with more compactness and height under the hook to be easy to use and to provide a variable weight. Thus, you can have several jib positions and more versatility as you can do multiple job applications with one crane. In the past companies offered two or three different models to do this on jobsite such as the contractors required several cranes to do multiple applications now with one or two Hup models you can cover different applications.”

The Hup 32-27 can be fi tted in just one container and shipped all over the world. “This model can offer 20 different confi gurations, much more than our competitors and more than previous IGO range,” Zaffi ro says. “You can use this Hup at low height under the hook or high height under the hook and then, you have three positions for the jib luffer. You can fold the jib once or twice and if you combine all of them you can have multiple confi gurations. This product line can work in very narrow spaces and you can easily confi gure because you have an intuitive radio-remote control with a large screen.”

“When the crane is folding or unfolding you see the different steps on your screen because the radio remote control is communicating with the crane and is sharing information.” Zaffi ro adds: “You can fold and unfold in just 20 minutes without using additional external masts to get the crane higher because you have all the features inside.

“Inside the electrical cabinet, or just using the radio remote screen, thanks to our exclusive CCS soft developments, you can see how the sensors are behaving, and this is very important for troubleshooting and just easy maintenance. “With the operator comfort in mind, we designed unique features like three driving profi les with a simple switch—soft, standard, dynamic—as well a soft hoisting speed for fi ne positioning.”

One of the Manitowoc US customers, Mel Ferguson, senior crane technician RMS rentals, a division of Road Machinery and Supplies says they have used the Hup 40-30 on a roofi ng project at Carleton College in Northfi eld, Minnesota.

“We were replacing the roof, but there were several obstructions, including some trees, some weathervaning and windmill issues, and a flagpole that the library could not take down,” says Ferguson. “Other cranes could not clear these obstacles, but the because of the Hup 40-30’s increased vertical capabilities, we were able to complete the project. We bought the crane for its updated electronics, top-zone lockout capabilities and vertical reach, and on its first job, the crane nailed it to a tee.”

Terex self erectors are manufactured in Fontanafredda, Italy. The largest model is the CBR40H, which offers a lifting capacity of 1t at 40m radius and an under hook height of 25.6m.

Marco Gentilini, vice president and general manager at Terex tower cranes explains their product line-up has been very stable lately. “The CBR40H is a very competitive crane for our customers thanks to its small ground footprint it is sometimes the only option for lifting and placing loads,” Gentilini says.

“Several customers have recently approached Terex in regards to our dedication to our tower crane business. Recent remarks made to the industry by Terex Corp. CEO, John Garrison, sends a clear message that Terex is 100% committed to growing the Cranes business, and this unquestionably includes Terex’s tower crane portfolio.

“Terex Cranes offers our customers a full portfolio of equipment solutions to meet their lifting challenges. Our focus on innovation and continuous improvements means we remain dedicated to providing both tower and mobile crane products, and service solutions that produce an excellent return on your investment.

“As the Terex Cranes organisation aims to win as a global crane equipment supplier, the tower cranes segment is a critical part of our success and we have established a long-term strategy focused on four priorities: accelerating new tower crane product development; investing in tower crane manufacturing in order to better position Terex as a global tower crane supplier; deliver commercial excellence; expand our lifecycle solutions.”

Talking about the future developments, he says Terex Cranes will keep the facility in Fontanafredda, investing in the tower crane manufacturing to enhance its position as a global tower crane supplier.

Gentilini adds: “Over the last several years we brought into Fontanafredda the production of several products including the self erectors, the hammerhead cranes and the luffi ng jib cranes and currently this is the facility where our complete tower cranes product range is manufactured. We also invested in our training facility and spare parts hub.”

Liebherr launched at Bauma the fast erection cranes 65 K.1 and 81 K.1. “The demand of these new cranes is very high thanks to its fl exibility and easy handling as well as the erection doesn’t require any mobile cranes,” says Hans- Martin Frech, marketing manager for Liebherr tower crane division.

“These cranes offer all the safety and power features, including top slewing cranes, load plus function, pure Speed2Lift 2-line operation, micromove fi ne positioning mode and the ABB operating-range limiting system. They are usually working on bridges, house buildings, and industry buildings.”

Regarding the market, Frech says the sales are very good. “The building industry of Eastern Europe is going well and it is running on a high level but fast erection cranes are more and more popular all over the world because the hook heights and the jib lengths are similar to small top slewing cranes,” he adds.

The new M21-WDS mounts a Potain MA21 on a Montarent undercarriage
An FM Gru self-erecting crane working in Canada
The new FB Gru GA138 at work in Munich, Germany.
Gapo is a remote controlled self-propelled power machine designed to move static loads and Potain self-erecting cranes in confined spaces.
A Potain Hup 30-40 working on a residential construction project around 10km outside Auckland, New Zealand. The crane was purchased by Oakham Construction in August of this year and immediately dispatched to the job site. The Hup 40-30 is lifting timber and steel building sections as well as precast concrete stairwells.
A Mantis TC25 at work on a project in Lewisham, England
A Liebherr 65 K and, in the background, a 71 K, working in Germany
Arcomet’s new A50 Eco was displayed at Matexpo 2017