Cranes and Lifting finds out more about the “unsung heroes” of the construction sector – the crane deck market
With every high-rise construction site featuring them, crane decks are one of the ‘unsung heroes’ of the construction sector. Providing access for materials and equipment, the wear and tear on decks can be considerable. Yet Australian designed, engineered and manufactured decks are making serious inroads into the market.
Crane Decks is an Australian owned, designed and manufactured range of crane decks and the Handley brothers, Josh and John, the ‘brains trust’ behind Cosmo Cranes, along with a third business partner, are the driving force for the business.
According to Josh Handley, the Crane Decks development was driven by customer demand.
“We entered into the crane decks four years because of market requirements and demand for these types of decks. With a safe working limit of 5000kg at 4.5m and one of the largest outboards on the market at 2500kg at 5.25 m, our decks are the largest and lightest retractable decks on the market,” said Handley.
Crane Decks have been designed to be modular so if a panel or a rail is damaged, replacement is a fairly straight-forward process.
“Our bins also have the largest internal footprint and with the 2.2m decks you can put a brick cage on the deck, open it and unload it from there. With other brands you can’t do that, you can’t unhook in a safe manner because there isn’t enough room. That’s because competitive products are manufactured with an I Beam and we use a C channel and this allows for a larger footprint on the deck,” he said.
Another key feature is that the decks are stackable where other products aren’t. This makes it easy to store the decks and to ship them around the country and over seas with eight 2.2m decks fitting to a semi trailer.
“Our distribution network is made up of stand-alone companies and agents for Crane Decks and each provide a full including service including sales, hire, install, service and support.
“We have between 600 and 700 Crane Decks Australia wide and to help keep the maintenance low, the rails have an option to be galvanised and are easily replaced if damaged due to the modular design,” he said.
With every high rise project needing decks, Crane Decks are utilised across a broad spectrum of the construction sector from small builders, who might only hire one or two, though to multinational companies like Multiplex JQZ/Parkview/ICON/Built that will have 20 to 30 decks on a project.
“With high rise construction we can a provide a ‘turn-key’ service where we deliver, install, maintain and ‘jump’ the decks when required, and then pull out them out when the projects is completed,” said Handley. “Frequently, builders say they don’t want to think or worry about the decks and we’ll quote to take care of everything. We can also arrange for the decks to be branded, it’s a good way for the builder to advertise.”
With the deck market being competitive, Crane Decks has focused on customer service as a key point of difference.
“We take a ‘hands on’ approach to our customers and we are flexible in terms of the solutions we are prepared to offer. “We know our customers, we know their business and they know us. That will explain the growth of the business. In four years we have become one of the largest suppliers of crane decks and we’re growing,” said Handley.
“We now subcontract to crane companies who specifically want to use our product. We know it’s a niche market but customers understand the features and benefits of our decks. Customers will ring us and if we can’t fix the issue over the phone, we’ll do everything to have someone on site within 24 hours,” he said.
Handley said plenty of thought has gone into the design of the decks including the team behind the business.
“Being the lightest deck on the market provides a major advantage because they can be lifted with a smaller crane and all the cost savings that go with that. This appeals to the construction sector especially the smaller builders,” he said.
“With the decks designed and manufactured locally and with the back up of our agent network, we are able to offer a very cost competitive service. We manage the whole process well, the decks are stackable so its cheaper to transport and they’re lighter so it’s cheaper to lift them.”
“We have a small and focused team on the decks. Dave James is our installation manager and he is across every project. He understands the complexities of projects and designs specific solutions to suit. Everyone knows what’s happening on each project so we can make quick decisions to ensure the best outcomes for the customer. Builders are able to call Dave day or night and nine times out of ten he can solve the issue over the phone, if not we’ll aim to be on site within 24 hours,” said Handley.
Crane Decks also design and manufacture the SKYDECK, a ‘craneable’ platform with tie downs, which works in conjunction with
“SKYDECK fits inside a 3.2m crane deck. It has a weight capacity of 5t and is designed to lift equipment that isn’t ‘craneable’. You strap down the equipment which could be forklift or a skid-steer loader, anything really, lift it onto the deck and it’s driven off or unloaded from there. It’s ideal for fit out or demolition applications,” said Handley.
Crane Decks also has the capabilities to design and implement special projects where decks need to be modified. These projects are managed completely in-house and generally have a four-week turnaround.
“Recently, we had to tailor make a system for our customer Built for the Parramatta Square project, one of the biggest jobs in Sydney. Standard props normally go to between 3m to 3.5m but these are up to 7m because it’s a commercial building,” said Handley.
“The project also required decks with a length of 4.2m and height of 7.2m, they are huge. So there are occasions where we can create unique solutions to solve a customers problem.”