Video interview - Global mobile crane markets

By Chris Sleight |  19 November 2021

A new video discussing some of the findings from Off-Highway Reserch's new report, Global Mobile Crane Fleets, has been posted on International Cranes and Specialized Transport's website. Click here to watch the video.

The video is hosted on YouTube, which si not available everyehwer in the world. In vide of this, a transcript is provided below.

 Click here for more information about the report.


Niamh Marriot, deputy editor of International Cranes and Specialized Transport interviews Chris Sleight, Managing Director of Off-Highway Research.

NM: I guess we should start off by explaining a little bit about the report kind of what it is how long it's been going how long it's been how it's calculated.

CS: Absolutely. Our report is called Global Mobile Crane Fleets and as it's based on the IC50 which is a league table that International Cranes and Specialized Transport has been doing since the 90s, so well over 20 years. The league table is a listing of the biggest crane-owning companies in the world, ranked by what is called in the magazine the IC Index which is the total load moment in tonne-meters of each company's fleet. So perhaps not the most obvious way of doing it but it's been felt over the years it is the fairest way of comparing different fleets to look at their overall lifting capability rather measure like you know number of cranes. Although the number of cranes is quite an interesting one.

So, what we did in in building this report was we took all the IC50 rankings that we could find going back to the 90s and put them all together in a database. We then looked at what trends would come out of that in terms of the progression and the development over time.

NM: So, from your research can you tell me where the big crane rental companies based?

CS: Yes. This is quite an interesting one because it is something that's changed over the years. I think you would say that most of the big companies are based where you would expect - Western Europe, North America and developed of Asia. That would be the majority of them, bit has changed over the years as I said. There are one or two very big crane companies in some of the emerging markets lie India, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE and so on. Each of those countries tends to have one or two very big crane rental companies which make it into the top hundred of the IC50.

More recently we've seen some very large crane rental companies emerge in China. In fact, there are there are three Chinese crane rental companies in the top ten now, which in relative terms come out of nowhere to rise to that level.

NM: And how big are the fleets and what is their typical composition?

CS: It very much leans towards wheeled cranes, perhaps as you might expect. The league tables don't break down between all terrain, rough terrain and truck cranes, but we found that the fleet composition is typically 80 per cent wheel cranes to 20 per cent crawlers.

Having said that you do get a few companies around the world which are very much specialists in crawler cranes so that in one or two special cases that's almost flipped on its head. That is an interesting aspect of how different companies find their niche in the market.

In terms of fleet sizes, even in in the top 100 it varies enormously. The largest crane fleet in the world is owned by Maxim which has more than 3,300 cranes. That illustrates the point about ranking companies by load moment, because although Maxim has by far the largest fleet it's only third in the listing. Mammoet and Sarens have fewer cranes, but overall, much heavier lift cranes. They still obviously have very big fleets.

There are seven companies in the top hundred that own more than 1,000 cranes and most of the top 20 own 500 cranes each or more. It is a pyramid effect of a few very big fleets at the top.

NM: Looking at the report, what are some of the key trends that have come out? What are the trends in the industry in terms of growth in crane numbers and growth in load moment? Is there still a clear move towards heavier lift cranes?

CS: There is absolutely! The first thing that is apparent when you really dive into the numbers is most of the top 100 companies are essentially heavy lift companies, or very much tilted towards that end.

In in the most recent year if you looked at how the number of cranes and load moment, you had an average load moment per crane across the top 100 of about 890 tonne meters. That’s equivalent to a pretty big crane. That would be about a 300 tonne all-terrain crane or a 170-180 tonne crawler crane. And that’s just the average, so that's already tilted towards the heavier end of lifting equipment. It does emphasise that overall, the IC50 are heavy lift companies.

And as you very rightly said this trend towards heavier and heavier cranes is going on all the time. One of the first things that came out of this analysis is the change in the load moment, the IC Index, is a growth of about 7 per cent per year. It has done that fairly consistently over the last decade. But the number of cranes in the fleet only grows by about 2 per cent per year.

So that tells you the fleets are growing, but more or less staying the same size. In fact, there's consolidation in the industry so it does undulate a little bit. But I think much more significant is that the much steeper growth in load moment shows crane rental companies are absolutely trading up when they refresh their fleets. They're not necessarily growing their fleets but they're absolutely swapping out a smaller crane for a bigger crane right across the board.

NM: In terms of features of the industry, you mentioned consolidation of the fleets in mature markets as well players in emerging markets. Is that something which comes out in the report?

CS: Yes if you look at the top 20 it's relatively stable. About 15 of the companies that were in the top 20 five years ago are still there. The new names are a couple of the large Chinese crane rental companies which have come into the market. There has been a little bit of consolidation. It goes on all the time but the big one that affected the top 20 was Mammoet buying ALE a couple of years ago. But overall, it is it is relatively stable.

You have this dynamic of in mature markets there aren't really any major new opportunities so see consolidation. That's something that comes out of some of the other analysis that we've done. We found that crane companies are looking at their footprint - looking at how many depots they have, and how many cranes per depot and really trying to optimise that. Generally, they’re getting a bit bigger in terms of how many cranes they have at each depot, also that that's reflected in the staff numbers. There’s clearly a drive to improve productivity - you get this particularly in Europe where you companies with a network of fewer, bigger depots.

In terms of the number of people per depot a number of people per crane, which does edge down year on year. All that consolidation in mature markets is absolutely about driving productivity.

In the emerging markets it might be different. You do tend to have much higher growth and more opportunities, so you get a completely different structure. You tend to get fewer depots that are very, very big in terms of their staff numbers and the number of cranes based at them.

Some of these large companies in emerging markets may just have one or two depots to cover a whole country, but as time goes on they tend to spread their network out a little bit and go for a different kind of kind of footprint. That's something that comes out through this study



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