Very few major building projects are carried out without a tower crane or two. These versatile workhorses are able to perform the all-important duties of lifting materials and smaller equipment easily and safely.
The more cranes on view, the more building projects underway, and the healthier the local construction industry.
In recent times, the UAE has been a strong market for tower cranes, as a conveyor belt of hotel, residential, retail and commercial schemes have all needed craneage. The other countries of the GCC have been lagging behind, however. The regional market for tower cranes has always been strong, and along with Europe and North America, it is one of the biggest worldwide.
A noticeable trend in the sector is for bigger and taller cranes, units that are able to cope with the higher and larger construction projects of the modern world. A case in point is the world’s largest luffing jib crane, which is currently employed on Dubai’s ICD Brookfield Place.
The Favelle Favco M2480D luffing jib crane is being used on this project for its lifting capabilities, explained Scott Cunningham, operations manager for Multiplex Technologies Plant and Equipment.
At 330 tonnes maximum lifting capacity, the Favco tower crane is the world’s heaviest in terms of capacity. For this project, the crane has been configured to 110t capacity on a single line, with a 55m boom radius and 75m free-stand height.
On the Dubai Hills development, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) is building a four-tower residential and hotel development and has employed the largest tower cranes it has ever purchased. seven Liebherr 200 EC-H 12 Litronic models, all with a maximum lifting capacity of 10t, and jib lengths of 55m and 60m.
“Six of the cranes are 60m-high climbing units, attached to the outside of the structure,” says Ahmad Hawari, CCC plant superintendant. “The main reason for using these cranes is because they are able to handle heavy loads at a wide radius – even at 60m they can lift 2.6t.”
CCC has also recently purchased two new Liebherr 280 HC-L 12/24 luffing jib cranes, complete with internal climbing equipment, which were both used on a high-rise scheme in Dubai. Liam Donnelly, head of sales and service at Liebherr Middle East, says these units are CCC’s biggest tower cranes to date, in a fleet of more than 80 cranes.
“The 280 HC-L has a maximum lifting capacity of 24t. They form part of a trend in the Middle East towards heavy-lift cranes, which is being driven by the increasing use of large precast elements on many projects.”
Whether luffing jibs, self-erectors, flat-tops, or any other configuration of tower crane, their versatility and cost-effectiveness make them a popular choice for contractors.
New cranes on the block
In line with the trend towards bigger tower cranes with higher capacities was the recent launch of Saudi-owned Raimondi’s MRT234, which boasts a maximum jib length of 70m and a lift capacity of 12t. Domenico Ciano, Raimondi’s technical director, says: “Raimondi’s research and development team worked with various suppliers for four months to build the prototype [...]. The final stage of testing took three months, including pre-assembly of the crane, evaluating many different types of configuration, and all of the model’s structural tests. “This testing phase [...] allowed for various performance measurement assessments, and enabled the engineering segment to observe these metrics at work.”
Compared to its predecessor, the MRT234’s slewing speed and trolley movement have been improved by approximately 30%. Designers say the crane’s smoothness of motion and accuracy have also been enhanced.
Raimondi’s MRT234 offers a choice of eight jib-length configurations, ranging from 28m to 70m. The model can also be equipped with two different hoisting winches: the 45kW version, which comes as standard; or the more powerful 55kW.
The most recent model from Italian tower crane manufacturer Recom, meanwhile, is the RTL 315 luffing jib tower crane. With a capacity of 20t, the crane has a 65m jib with a capacity of 3.3t at 6m and 2t at 65m. Recom says it can reach greater free-standing heights thanks to the use of high-tensile steel and secure bolt connections.
The RTL 315 has an 80kW winch with a Svendborg brake and a Lebus drum. Its new cabin is said to offer the operator more space and improved visibility.
Recom has plans to add to its luffer range with two new models in 2018.