Australia, Industry News

Empire Cranes expands its fleet capacity

Founding directors of Empire Cranes Jared McDonald and Jarrod Belsey sat down with Cranes and Lifting to discuss their recent trip to the Sany Global Crane Conference in China, the recent major expansion to their national fleet, and the driving forces that have motivated them in their crane purchases. 

Although the business itself has only been around for just over four years, both directors are no strangers to the industry.

“Jared number one” – as Belsey calls his business partner – “has been in cranes his whole life.”

With his father owning a small owner-operator business in Melbourne for years, Jared has gone on to work at some of the most widely known engineering and crane hire companies in Australia and around the world. Belsey, on the other hand, has been in construction hire for over 20-years and worked at a national sales level around the country. 

With their new head office located in the outer Melbourne suburb of Pakenham, Empire Cranes’ operations have ventured anywhere but local. Employing a “long-term dry-hire” business model, and utilising their strong national network, Empire Cranes fleet is currently spread across the country on projects from Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel Project through to mining projects out in the Pilbara.

“The business is sound,” Belsey says. “Our long-term dry hire lease model is ‘slow and steady’; nothing dramatic changes day to day for us, giving us more time to focus on the most important thing, our customers. Without them, we would not have a business at all.”

Speaking to the expansion of their current fleet, McDonald announces that Empire Cranes have “purchased five new cranes in recent months.” 

“We have always had an aggressive attitude towards growing our fleet, and we are committed to meeting the demands of our growing customer base,” Belsey says. 

Recently accompanying Australian distributor of Sany products Tutt Bryant to the 2023 Sany Global Convention in China, Belsey says he was “blown away” by the magnitude of the event. Treated to multiple factory tours in Changsha and Shanghai, Belsey added that the Chinese manufacturers “really looked after their global distributors and customers from all over the world.”

Able to witness the level of investment first-hand, Belsey and McDonald were both deeply impressed by the procedures Sany had in place.

Citing the reception as “incredible”, Empire Cranes were also able to bear witness to the production lines for Sany crawler crane, mobile crane and tower crane facilities. 

“We were given full access to the manufacturing line. We observed first-hand the level of investment Sany is putting into their crane production, their R&D and their QA Systems. We were impressed with the level of quality and precision with which each crane is made,” he said.

And that impression made its mark on Empire Cranes; as a result of what they saw, they made the decision to purchase three new cranes from Sany: a 60-tonne and 90-tonne rough terrain crane, and a 100-tonne telescopic boom crawler crane. 

“We’ve taken possession of all of the Sany cranes. They are in Australia, ready to work, and we couldn’t be happier with them,” says Belsey.

Featuring a Stage III emission standard Cummins engine, the Sany SRC600T offers a lighter, slightly more transportable, and cost-effective version compared to its 90-tonne counterpart, the SRC900T. Not to be outdone, however, the 90-tonne rough-terrain crane offers more versatility with its heavier loads and complements Empire Cranes’ current fleet as they expand further into the rough terrain market.

“We believe the new Sany purchases will add to the overall fleet mix and give our customers more options on their future projects,” says Belsey. “We are seeing a real demand for rough terrains and mid to large size telecrawlers recently, so we had to invest. We are listening to our customers’ needs and working fast to fulfil them.” 

The 100-tonne teleboom crawler crane, also features a four-stroke Cummins diesel engine, possesses a boom length of up to 90 metres, a maximum lifting moment of 378 tonne-metres, and is easily assembled counterweight of up to 32 tonnes.

Having seen the Sany product stand up in environments such as the Pilbara, Empire Cranes needed no extra convincing to purchase three new cranes from the Chinese manufacturer.

“We’ve seen the Sany product in the harshest of environments in Western Australia and we are confident in their quality and ability to perform consistently, but probably the biggest push for us in considering Sany was the partnership they have with Tutt Bryant Equipment,” Belsey stated. “With a national brand like Tutt Bryant working closely with Sany on meeting and exceeding the highest Australian safety and quality standards and spare part supply minimums, it really reaffirms our decision to go with Sany.” 

Empire Cranes is also quick to acknowledge the role Phil Chadwick, Tutt Bryant Equipment Sales Manager for the southern region, played in opening the door for Empire Cranes to the Sany product.

“We have a great relationship with Phil,” says Belsey. “He has worked hard on promoting the Sany product to us – even inviting us to the Archerfield yard to touch and play with the cranes all afternoon, which allowed us to get a better feel for the crane.”

READ MORE: CCS purchase new Sany truck-crane through Tutt Bryant.

The team at Empire Cranes believe the market is shifting, and there is a rising level of quality coming from the East.

“Our relationship with Phil provided Sany with a foot in the door. It enabled us to experience first-hand what they were capable of and, as mentioned before, we are so impressed with the quality of the cranes they are producing, and we look forward to sharing this with our clients,” he adds.

Discussing the other new additions to the Empire Cranes fleet outside of the Sany purchases, Belsey and McDonald speak of their “excitement” in announcing the purchase of a Liebherr LTR1220 telecrawler crane; as they put it, “the new flagship of our growing fleet.” 

Set to be delivered in August this year, the team at Empire Cranes are confident the 220-tonne telescopic crawler will be a highly sought after product. With a maximum load capacity of 220 tonnes, the telescopic crawler crane features a boom length of up to 60 metres as well as a lattice jib extension of up to 43 metres. As a telescopic crane, it requires a shorter set-up time compared to its lattice-boom compatriot and holds more versatility and transportability thanks to its automated boom system. 

Featuring a Liebherr, 4-cylinder diesel engine, the LTR 1220 holds a maximum hoist height of 101 metres in tandem with a radius and has proven itself equally adept on mining sites or civil construction projects.

“We are proud to put this crane in our fleet,” says Belsey. “It is perfect to assist with the wind farm, mining and new construction projects starting around Australia at the moment. We have already had a lot of interest in this crane as soon as it lands in the country.”

With the fifth new crane added to their fleet being the Japanese manufactured 8-tonne Maeda mini-crawler – only the second of its kind in Australia – Belsey and McDonald were keen to point out the shifting power dynamics in the heavy-machinery market, highlighting the rising quality coming from Asia.

READ MORE: Sany’s commitment to the Australian market.

“The quality keeps consistently improving. It’s been especially notable over the past few years, and we were lucky enough to witness it in person on our trip to Sany’s factory,” they say. “The amount of time and investment they’ve made into making those cranes meet the high standards that we have here in Australia must be underscored.”

Belsey says Sany “really looked after” their customers and global distributors.

“We feel that the market is turning to other players, and we really believe the Sany brand is going to go from strength to strength here,” Belsey continues. “With this round of purchasing, we’ve identified some key areas in which we’d like to grow our fleet that are in line with what the market is telling us now. We are very keen to get them out there and working!”

Having grown their fleet from one MAC25 Franna crane in 2019 to over 20 cranes in 2023, consisting of pick & carry, all-terrains, rough-terrains and crawlers of all sizes, business is escalating at a rapid rate for Empire Cranes. 

Putting their success down to a customer-centric approach, Belsey says Empire Cranes “want to ensure our product and service to our clients is always of the highest quality.”

“With this focus front of mind, we are committed to continuously updating our cranes, and reducing the age of the fleet as well; we want the best for our clients, and we believe they notice the difference in our level of customer service.” 

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