At the bottom of the capacity range, this equipment aimed primarily at industrial users, but with some construction uses. One example of this is the Ruger Industries range of cranes, from the David Round Company. With a maximum capacity of 3USt, these cranes are competing with forklifts.

Chris Hilty, sales distribution coordinator for Ruger, says, "You would use a floor crane, rather than a forklift, because a floor crane can go places a forklift can't: either because of floor loading considerations, or overall size, or safety. They're useful in tight corners, especially, which you get in a lot of modern industrial settings where they're maximising throughput per square foot. With a floor crane you can access machining centres arrayed in a pretty tight space. A forklift isn't physically appropriate to the space there. And, with a forklift, you can have an increased safety problem, where you have forklift and people traffic in close proximity."

Beyond the factory gate
As well as saving space in industrial applications, Ruger's cranes can save time on construciton jobs. Hilty says, " In construction applications, like high rise building, we offer a product that can be used both internally to the building, as well as some equipment that can be used on the exterior, perhaps to a low rooftop or something like that. In a high rise, you can get a forklift in there, but you still need lifting equipment. A floor crane can do that, and with modification can handle cladding and paneling, so floor cranes have a good place working in buildings, where you have an improved surface.

"We custom built one of our full powered cranes with modifications for use in mounting curtain wall, for a company working on the external glass panels of high rise buildings. In that case, they went from needing 24 people to put these panels in, to just needing eight people to get the same work done."

Paneling, cladding and glazing is a key source of work for these cranes around the world. Carl Cooper is sales manager for Peter Hird & Sons, the exclusive dealer for Valla cranes in the UK and Ireland, and for Winlet lifting robots. Cooper says, "Curtain walling is a huge part of the business, especially down in the south [of England]. Hird have a depot in Redhill [near London] that does a lot of work with all the major glazing and cladding installation companies. Glass is becoming a bigger problem for installers, because of the modern architectural design: the glass is heavier, bigger. Curtain wall has become more and more of an integral building product. It's become a major part of the construction.

"Hird have been involved with many major construction projects including Shard, the Gherkin, an endless amount of jobs like this. We virtually have a full order book all the time for our mini cranes and Winlet Glazing robots.

"The beauty of the mini cranes, on buildings, is you can use that crane 24 hours a day. Whereas the tower crane is shared to all of the contractors on site, uses more personal and has its own dangers. A glazing contractor can use a mini crane all the time. "

Graeme Riley, managing director of Unic distributor GGR, says, "Changes in architectural design have always driven demand for our products, and keep our finger on the pulse of design trends to make sure we have the equipment to meet the needs of our customers. We find that restricted access and limited space is often a problem during the construction of large city structures and even more so post-construction, so our cranes are also very useful for ongoing maintenance work such as reglazing.

"UNIC mini cranes tick a number of boxes for contractors working on large scale structures such as skyscrapers. They can work safely both indoors and outdoors, be transported onto rooftops, work inbetween floors, be transported in passenger/ goods lifts and move through standard doorways. Their versatility makes them a popular choice on site.

"One of the key elements which seems to make UNIC mini cranes, particularly the larger models, appealing to customers at the moment is that they can be easily dismantled, transported by a larger crane, then reassembled. This feature was why a UNIC URW-706 mini spider crane was chosen to work on the rooftop of The Shard skyscraper. "

Hird's Cooper also sees the cranes going beyond glazing to heavier and more varied jobs, "What we're finding, because the major contractors are using these glazing systems and cranes, they are finding additional uses the mini cranes can work on. We recently carried out lifting worked at Reading Railway station, for Bourne PLC, they've found that using pick and carry track cranes was the ideal tool on the platform, rather than bringing in big cranes to sit off the job, this was a cheaper alternative and brought the job in more cost effectively. They're using them to install overhead signs on the platform.

"One of biggest thing people do not realise with a pick and carry, is that sometimes a job that might need 100-150t standard mobile crane. This can be done with a smaller pick and carry crane. Several of the big petrochemical companies are so successful and have an understanding of this. Essar in Stanlow, have maybe 20 pick and carry cranes. These crane have been on site for many years and demonstrate the huge lifespans of the Valla, Pick and Carry Cranes. The lifespan for cherry pickers, plant equipment, might be five or seven years. We're replacing cranes at Essar, Shell, that have been at work at 30 years."

Manitowoc also offers cranes at the top end of the compact crane class, in its Yardboss and Shuttlelift lines. The cranes, ranging from 8.5USt to 25USt, are used in factories, for maintenance in infrastructure and energy sites, and on construction sites.

Thomas McCallum, director of sales, industrial cranes, Manitowoc, explains the history of the two brands: "The difference between Yardboss and Shuttlelift is just the decals: we have two sets of dealer networks defined by brand. Our Grove Yardboss dealers sell all the Manitowoc products. The Shuttlelift dealers do not sell any other Manitowoc products. When we bought Shuttlelift, we kept the dealers because of their established roots within the crane industry. They go into smaller businesses, where customers are buying forklift and other industrial products.

"We had produced the Yardboss line ourselves for many years. We entered into a manufacturing agreement with Shuttlelift in 2005, with them manufacturing the cranes and us labeling them as Yardboss. Then in January 2007 we bought the Shuttlelift industrial crane line and moved the product to Shady Grove."

John Bair, product specialist, adds, "Around the time of the first deal, we had 8.5USt, 10USt, and 15USt Yardboss cranes. Shuttlelift had a product range up to 20USt. So that allowed us to expand our product range. We've since upgraded our product line to include a 25USt.

"There's a wide variety of applications for the industrial product. They can go anywhere from refinery work, industrial and chemical plants, water facilities, construction, automotive plants, maintenance, the possibilities are quite broad."

McCaullum says, "Smaller models are well accepted for use inside buildings. They're narrow, low, and easy to maneuver in tight spaces. They can be equipped with either a diesel or duel fuel engine: switching between propane or gasoline, so it can be used inside or outside without a problem.

"Another benefit is their easy set up. You can pull up to a site, and be ready to work within minutes: you put the outriggers down, pick up the load, take the outriggers up again, and carry the load away."

The Manitowoc cranes often go beyond industrial sites, however. Bair says, "On most job sites the industrial product is generally used on improved surfaces, but the newly designed 15t and 20t, as well as the 25t can all be used on slightly unimproved surfaces, for jobs like new home construction and so forth."

McCallum says, "The industrial product can also be used as an assist crane for larger cranes, as they can maneuver more easily. They can deliver materials around a site from a staging area served by a larger crane.

"They can also be used for crawler assembly: moving counterweight, boom sections, all of that."

New and improved
Manitowoc continues to develop its industrial line. Most recently, at this year's Bauma, the company brought the Yardboss line back to Europe. Bair says, "We've also recently reintroduced CE certification on the industrial product line, to meet current EN 13000 standards, which we believe will help us gain future international sales.

"At Bauma, we introduced the new 20USt model. It replaced the previous 18USt model, and offers an increased capacity along with improved hydraulic system and a redesigned cab with operator comfort in mind."

Italy's Jekko is also developing its range. Mauro Tonon, sales and marketing manager, says, "We've been developing new products. We have three new models, replacing two older models of minicrane and extending our. The new models are 900kg, 1,200kg, and 2,400kg. The old ones were 1,000kg and 2,000kg.

"We've made the crane more configurable. The base machine is simpler, but there are more options for jibs, and the radio remote control is now an option. Previously, the remote was included as standard.

"All the jibs are new. We've made an extendible track, to help customers move better on some surfaces.

"The biggest model we have, you can now work with just the track without needing to put the stabilisers out.

"The new cranes are sold in Italy, and are also available in the USA, Canada, Brazil, South America, Europe and the MIddle East. We're planning on exporting them to the Far East: we're developing contacts with potential dealers in countries like Thailand, and expect to sell them there in 2014."

Galizia, of Italy, has recently started finding sales for its compact cranes around the world. Fabio Vercelli, managing director, says, "Until four years ago our market was 40% Italy, 40% Europe and 20% outside Europe. In the last years our market is 20% Italy, 30% Europe and 50% outside Europe. We have new dealers for Saudi Arabia, Australia, Russia, Belarus, Brazil, Thailand and New Zealand."

The company recently sold one of its latest crane, a 20t GF200, to Grues N'Rik and Megalift Canada, in Montreal. Henrik Daunais, president of the Montreal area companies, saw the crane at Bauma, and came to Italy to pick up his new crane.

Vercelli said, "Daunais tested his GF200 pick and carry at our yard, and I felt a great enthusiasm from his side.

"He appreciated the innovative two front motors system, the compactness of the crane, the lifting performance and extremely gradual movements.

"Both our companies are sure to continue to cooperate in the near future, also because we found a great feeling and this GF200 is only the first of their electrical crane fleet."

The GF200 is equipped with an hydraulic winch, hydraulic jib, double joystick and battery charger on board."