Tower Crane Virtual Conference: Global trends

26 March 2021

Thibaut Le Besnerais , VP, brand and product management at Manitowoc Company delivered a presentation on megatrends that are affecting the market and his company’s response to them.

Le Besnerais started with a discussion on globalisation and how it has affected current and potential markets. “The map is changing; while ten years ago the Asian market represented less than 30% of total construction market, in 2020 Asia it accounted for 44% and soon will be 50%. The Chinese market by itself represents 30% of total construction.” He added that the five biggest construction companies in the world are all Chinese.

To meet the increased demand for tower cranes from the Asian market, Manitowoc established factories in Zhangjiagang, China, and Pune, India, and has enhanced its local service and distribution networks.

Le Besnerais added that the manufacturer’s product range and solutions had to evolve in order to respond to the needs of these markets, where customers have different behaviour and construction methods than other parts of the world. The manufacturer is developing flat top models in these two factories and one of the recent innovations tailored is a 2m mast system available for external/internal climbing of cranes up to 600tm.

The other area Le Besnerais focused on was global population growth and urbanisation. He says that as a result there is a higher number of urban job sites and high rise buildings. “The job sites are getting more congested and that means we need faster execution.”

At Manitowoc they have seen the market share of 16t machines increasing, while the one for 8t capacity or lower cranes shrinking. The trend towards heavier machines will keep increasing according to Le Besnerais. He says that as there are more cranes on the jobsites, the flat tops are dominating and will continue to do so because their design allows multiple units to overlap; and adds that luffers are also increasing in popularity.

Responding to this trend Manitowoc developed high capacity topless cranes (such as MDT 809 and MDT 569) and enhanced its luffer range with two new models (MRH 125, MRH 175) and upgraded the MR 418 and MR 608 with new and fast mechanisms.

The other megatrend discussed was digitalisation and new technologies. Le Besnerais sees three main fields of application for the industry: crane driving improvement/automatisation; fleet rationalisation and management; jobsite planning. Potain offers the Crane Control System (CCS) and telematics service CraneStar Diag. “We introduced CCS 5 years ago now 70% of the tower crane range is having CCS inside.”

Corporate Social responsibility has also increased in importance, with Le Besnerais saying that the majority of customers (especially millennials) want the company they work with to act as “good corporate citizen”. “We participate in writing new standards and we are in strict compliance with these new standards,” he highlighted.

In terms of the environment impact, he said: “Potain cranes are durable goods: by design, manufacturing but also by service. Through the Encore program we give a second life to our crane with a low environmental impact. Also by manufacturing and providing services in all continents, we are closer to our customer reducing transport and logistics.”

Concluding, Le Besnarais highlighted that the world is changing fast and businesses have to be open to any potential change in the future. “Until now the construction industry is quite a conservative one and consequently obsolescence of products is slow, this is why in our product development we have to mitigate the new product introduction but also to make sure that we maintain existing fleet. Cranes we are selling today, will still be there in 20 years time; so as we are jumping from one generation to the next, we have to make sure that the customer will continue to use our product in the full life span of the crane.”