Crane numbers continue to climb across the country

The Rider Levett Bucknall quarterly crane index has been released showing the number of cranes across Australia’s skylines continue to climb.

In Q1 2022, crane numbers across Australia increased by 95, a 13% increase on the last quarter. This is the highest number of cranes seen across Australia since the inaugural count, twenty editions ago.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry has shown remarkable resilience.

Construction work done for the calendar year 2021 was up by 1.8%, (or $3.7B), across Australia compared to 2020.

Total residential work done increased by 4.9% (or $3.5B), and engineering activity also increased by 0.9%. Non-residential activity dropped by 1.4% (or $0.7B).

Strong growth in approval levels through 2021 saw a lift in the total value of approvals of 22% across the nation. Multi-level apartments (+21%), houses (+31%), health (+97%) and industrial (+27%), all significantly contributed to this increase strong crane growth was seen in all sectors with the non-residential sector recording another strong result recording its fourth record high over the past four editions of the Index.

With record levels of residential approvals across the country, the residential index rose for the first time in six editions.

The Federal Government’s residential construction stimulus measures assisted the economy, with the sector recording an increase of 63 cranes in this edition.

The residential index rose by 14%, the highest value since Q3 2019. Residential cranes now number 506, or 62% of all cranes across Australia.

Multi-storey residential developments have recovered from their fourth consecutive fall, mirroring the rise in building approvals and work done in this subsector during 2021.

The non-residential index continued to rise, recording 267 cranes—up 12% compared to Q1 2021.

This index result is another record level since the inception of the index. The industries hit hardest by the lockdowns during 2020 and 2021, namely tourism, retail and commercial, recorded rises in crane numbers in this edition.

Commercial rose by 10 cranes, hotels by one and retail by two. The civil and civic sectors saw a small drop with a loss of four cranes each. Recreation fell by two cranes. Health (up eight) and mixed use / other (up 18), both recorded increases in crane numbers across the country.

Since our last edition, 363 cranes were added to our skylines and 258 were removed. Sydney’s crane numbers increased by 53 (56% of the total increase recorded) to total 348 cranes. This represents 43% of all cranes across the country. Perth and Melbourne recorded double figure lifts in crane numbers of 18 and 12 respectively. On a percentage basis, both Adelaide and Perth recorded crane rises of more than 40% when compared to Q3 2021 results


“It almost seems as though the Tadano AC 4.080-1 was made for us specifically – the cutting-edge crane is simply perfect for our fleet,” explains Manfred Härzschel, founder of the Cloppenburg-based crane company of the same name, while picking up his new crane. And he is right in saying that the new AC 4.080-1 is a state-of-the-art machine – from its compliance with EU Stage V emission standards, through the innovative IC‑1 Plus crane control system, all the way to an outstanding lifting capacity, the crane is clearly ahead of the pack. That is why the people at Härzschel did not wait long and instead made sure to get their hands on the world’s very first delivery of the brand new model, which was handed over by Tadano Sales Manager Thorsten Dietzel.

It is worth pointing out that the Tadano brand has been closely tied to Härzschel ever since the latter was founded in 1997. In fact, the company’s fleet is made up entirely of Tadano cranes. “The reliable and powerful cranes made by them have played an indispensable role in the successful growth and development of our company from the very beginning,” Manfred Härzschel reports.

Throughout the years, Härzschel has diversified its operations and currently also operates a high-bay warehouse with state-of-the-art equipment and around 2000 pallet storage locations for short-term and long-term storage that are available to both industrial and private customers. With its comprehensive service portfolio, which includes obtaining permits for road and transport operations, road securing service, construction site inspection and project support for industrial and construction companies Härzschel has earned a sterling reputation as a reliable partner for customers across the entire region. Härzschel has further extended its service range by the rental of truck-mounted aerial work platforms.

All-rounder for a broad range of applications

“The new Tadano AC 4.080-1 will be invaluable to us as we keep expanding our business activities in a number of areas,” says Manfred Härzschel confidently before adding that he is planning to use the new crane as a versatile all-rounder for private customers and industrial projects. And he did not wait long to stick to that plan: The Tadano AC 4.080-1 went to its first work site on the very first business day after it was delivered.

More autonomous machinery expected at Bauma

It is expected that at the Bauma exhibition in Munich this year, that autonomous and semi-autonomous technology will be on display and will be a focal point for many of the exhibitors, with the event running from October 24 to 30.

One exhibit that visitors will be able to observe is the results of a three year long study from Machines in construction 4.0 (MiC 4.0), which was established during the last Bauma exhibition by leading German industry associations, HDB and VDMA.

With 105 members from seven nations and 31 working groups, MiC 4.0 has examined aspects of digital construction technology including automation and semi-automation, machine connectivity, collaborative robotics and best practices for data usage.

Tim-Oliver Müller, director of the German construction industry association, HDB in an interview with construction Europe, he said that, while he doesn’t believe full autonomy in construction machines is likely to arrive in the near future, he is convinced that the construction industry could nevertheless benefit greatly from the use of digital technology.

“Such solutions have the potential for noticeable increases in efficiency and productivity,” he said.

The MiC group has been examining the standardisation of data and says simple information such as whether a machine is on or off is now being digitalised and standardised and is being utilised across manufacturers committed to the MiC 4.0 effort.

The organisation’s managing director, Dr Darius Soßdorf, said, “In any construction machine with an internal combustion engine that sends the signal ‘on’, the crankshaft of the engine rotates.”

Soßdorf claims that the joint approach implemented here is entirely new and unique.

This, along with other aspects of research undertaken by MiC 4.0 in the last three years will be presented at the innovation hall LAB0 at Bauma, where, along with presentations, there will be a physical demonstration.

World-first electric-powered heavy transport completed

Mammoet has achieved a major milestone in the development of sustainable heavy lifting and transport – undertaking the replacement of a production vessel at a chemical plant in the Netherlands using purely electric power.  


The Shell facility produces feedstock for a range of everyday applications including medical equipment, car components and cellphones. When a key production vessel needed to be replaced, the customer was keen to look at how this could be done with the lowest possible environmental impact. 


Seeking ways in which new technology can help to reduce – and eventually eradicate – the carbon footprint of projects, Mammoet has explored many possible solutions in recent years. One such focus has been a partnership with Scheuerle to transition its SPMT fleet from diesel to renewable energy.  


Whilst electric technology is nothing new for domestic vehicles, the sheer force SPMTs are required to deliver in moving heavy items has presented significant barriers to finding an equivalent solution. But thanks to extensive research and testing this has now become a reality.  


The ePPU was used with four axle lines of SPMT operating in an extremely tight area of the existing plant, which meant that there were only a few meters in which to maneuver the existing vessel out and drive the new one into position.  


In fact, space was so limited that not all SPMT lines could be positioned beneath the outgoing vessel, meaning that it needed to be secured above the front two axle lines of SPMT, with the ePPU acting as a counterweight to balance the vessel as it was transported. A crane was then used to remove the old vessel and lower its replacement onto the SPMT in the same position. This was then moved back into place ready to be installed and commissioned.   


Using the ePPU delivered important benefits for the project. Ludo Mous, Operations Director at Mammoet Europe, explains: 


“The ePPU is a really important step in how we support our customers with decarbonizing projects. But in this case, the benefits were not limited only to a lower carbon footprint. With work taking place in a highly confined area, we would have been highly conscious of the emissions generated by a typical diesel PPU, and would need to carefully manage operatives’ exposure to it. By using an electric model, we removed this issue completely, whilst also creating a much quieter working environment.” 


The successful application of the ePPU here signals just the start of an exciting development for Mammoet and the wider industry. Although there is still work to be done to ensure electric power is sufficient for use in larger scale SPMT projects, the technology is now proven in use and ready to be rolled out across a broader range of work around the world. 


Mous concludes: 


“We were extremely pleased that the ePPU performed as we expected, delivering a low-carbon solution for our customer. We expect demand for it to be high, in particular for projects that are looking for more sustainable options or where exhaust emissions must be kept to a minimum for safety reasons, such as civil projects taking place within tunnels or work inside nuclear facilities.” 

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