Safety at New Heights
Mobile cranes play a crucial role in various industries, from construction and infrastructure development to maintenance and heavy equipment handling. These versatile machines provide the lifting power necessary for a wide range of tasks, making them indispensable on job sites worldwide. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and ensuring the safety of mobile crane operations is paramount. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key aspects of safety in using mobile cranes, covering equipment inspection, operator training, site planning, and industry regulations.

Several safety measures are implemented across the industry to maintain a secure working environment. Qualified and certified crane operators are crucial for safe crane operations. Rigorous training programmes ensure operators are well-versed in crane functions, load capacities, and safety protocols.

Routine inspections of mobile cranes are essential to identify potential issues and ensure that all components are in proper working condition. This includes checking the hydraulic systems, electrical components, and structural integrity. Also, advanced load moment indicators and load moment limiters are integrated into modern cranes to prevent overloading. These systems provide real-time data to operators, helping them make informed decisions during lifting operations.

Mobile cranes are equipped with various safety features, such as emergency stop buttons, anti-two block systems, and outrigger load indicators, to enhance overall safety during operations. Before initiating any lifting operation, a thorough site assessment is conducted to identify potential hazards. Adequate planning helps in selecting the right crane for the job and implementing appropriate safety measures.

Demand drivers

Said Mathur, “Infrastructure is the very foundation of every strong nation and economy. According to the vision of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is coursed to growing into a $5 trillion dollar economy by 2024. This can definitely pave the way for the success of the construction equipment industry. Government spending on infrastructure and rapid urban development is at an all-time high. Also, the overall growth of the Indian economy, in the coming years, will further boost disposable income. This will in turn further increase the demand for better infrastructure and development.”

Satin Sachdeva, Founder & Secretary General, Construction Equipment Rental Association (CERA), feels that the scenario in India is encouraging due to two reasons – first, the paradigm shifts towards buying new cranes from importing used cranes; second, the increase in use of heavy-duty mobile crane in construction, cement, steel, wind and power sectors. “In India, it is the all-terrain cranes, crawler cranes, rough terrain cranes that dominate the market due to their versatility and operation efficiency.”

Sachdeva adds, “The market for all terrain cranes and crawler cranes is predicted to accelerate owing to the expansion of cement plants, construction industry, infrastructure projects and the increased business potential of ship building and repair industry. Cranes will be required for the metro project for general erection as well as for heavy lifts involving lifting and lowering of TBM sections through the shafts. Greenfield nuclear power projects are also expected to be a major driver for medium capacity mobile and crawler cranes in the medium term.”

“In India, the demand for mobile cranes is growing rapidly owing to the increasing number of infrastructure projects that have led to the requirements for assembly and lifting. The development is apparent in the industrial as well as the core infrastructure sectors. Mobile crane manufacturers and rental agencies are witnessing an upsurge in demand for medium and high-capacity cranes. Mobile cranes are widely used in India for major industrial applications such as power plants and turbine manufacturing,” adds Chechi.

Adds Chandra, “The government of India is also constructing one of the largest Greenfield airport projects in the world named Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA). The first phase of the airport will be able to handle more than 20 million passengers annually and the airport will be expanded to handle more than 90 million passengers annually. Thus, the ongoing projects and the growing investment from the foreign players and government side are driving the crane market in the country. Therefore, the market studied is anticipated to grow over the forecast period.”

Several expansions, upgradations and new refinery and petrochemical projects are coming up in Barmer, Paradip, Vizag, Baruni, Panipat, Vadodara and Mahul with a combined new capacity of 20.6 MTPA. The rapid urban infrastructure upgradation has led to the development of metros across various cities. Moreover, the high-speed railway presents massive opportunities for the construction equipment rental industry. In the next FY, the wind sector will add approximately 2,200 to 2,500 MW, which will create a lot of demand for cranes.

Adds Sanghvi, “Multi utility pick-and-carry cranes are being replaced by equipment such as telehandlers which have many dynamic features. These telehandlers perform well at job sites as they are versatile and therefore have a multi-purpose functionality. They come with a variety of attachments such as the General-Purpose Shovel, Heavy Duty Forks, Bucket with Grab, Crane Hook, Grain Bucket, Power Grab, Man Platform and Drum Handlers, all of which enable the machine to do a variety of jobs on site, which enhance its overall utility. Telehandlers are best suited for congested spaces on sites due to their compact sizes, and their all-terrain features are useful for uneven ground conditions.”

“Pick and carry cranes are well suited to the Indian market and has been there for a long time. The pick and carry concept are very cost efficient in every way like the parts can be locally sourced and made available, its repair and maintenance are easy, operator availability and training are easier. Whereas, heavy telescopic cranes which are widely used in the western countries does not suit Indian cost-oriented market. For instance if a job can be done with one 40 tonne crane or using two pick and carry cranes, the company and hirer would find the latter option a better deal,” said Akshay Deshmukh, Managing Director, Deshmukh Crane Service.

He adds, “Adding more features will definitely be value addition to manufacturers, hiree, and end users. It will be a concept like tele handler but more economical. Recently cranes are coming with manlift basket attachments which are very well designed with hydraulic operations as the end user has to rent out Crane and boomlift. So, if work can be done with single equipment the end user can save and can pass on that saving to hire resulting in getting better rates which is the basic concern everywhere.”

Rental scenario

Rental market for mobile cranes has emerged as a dynamic and crucial component, playing a pivotal role in meeting the diverse needs of construction projects across the nation. The mobile crane rental market in India has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by factors such as increased construction activities, infrastructure development, and the adoption of advanced technologies in project execution. Mobile cranes, with their versatility and ability to navigate diverse terrains, have become indispensable in the construction landscape.

While the mobile crane rental market in India is thriving, it is not without challenges. Some of the key challenges include the need for skilled operators, adherence to safety regulations, and potential fluctuations in fuel prices. However, these challenges also present opportunities for training programmes, safety innovations, and the development of more fuel-efficient crane models.

The Indian government has taken several steps to promote the growth of the construction and infrastructure sector, indirectly influencing the mobile crane rental market. Initiatives such as the Make in India campaign and ease of doing business reforms contribute to the overall positive sentiment in the industry.

Automation in Mobile Cranes

As technology continues to advance, the integration of automation in mobile crane operations is becoming a pivotal aspect of the industry. Automation not only enhances efficiency but also contributes significantly to safety.

Some mobile cranes are now equipped with remote operation capabilities, allowing operators to control the crane from a safe distance. This is particularly beneficial in hazardous or challenging environments.

Advanced telematics and monitoring systems provide real-time data on the crane's performance, health, and location. This data can be used for predictive maintenance, optimising operations, and ensuring compliance with safety standards. Automation technology includes collision avoidance systems that use sensors and cameras to detect obstacles around the crane. These systems provide warnings or automatically intervene to prevent collisions, reducing the risk of accidents.

LMI systems automate load monitoring and provide operators with real-time information about the load's position and the crane's capacity. This helps prevent overloads and enhances overall safety.

Road ahead

The safe operation of mobile cranes is a multifaceted endeavour that requires a holistic approach, encompassing equipment inspection, operator training, site planning, and compliance with industry regulations. Neglecting any of these critical aspects can result in accidents, injuries, and damage to property. By prioritising safety in every facet of mobile crane operations, businesses can not only protect the well-being of their workers but also enhance the efficiency and success of their projects. Mobile cranes, when operated safely, contribute significantly to the progress of construction, infrastructure, and various industries, embodying the balance between power and responsibility.

10 tips for safe mobile crane operation

To ensure that our cranes are kept in excellent working order and that your mobile crane operation runs smoothly and safely, here are 10 tips to take note of.

  • Always check ground conditions before any lift operation is started. A crane is as good as the ground it is stood on – weather, such as ice or rain can change ground conditions quite quickly, making jobs inefficient or dangerous.
  • Take note of any overhead hazards, particularly when you will be operating the crane close to buildings or in areas where there are power lines.
  • Be observant of everything that is happening on the site around you, from personnel to other works taking place.
  • Before starting the crane, double check fuel and other fluids that may need to be replenished.
  • You should also do a full inspection of the crane before each use – checking for any mechanical, electrical, structural or hydraulic issues.
  • Ensure that the correct pads and cribbing are used for the lift operation to avoid outrigger fail or a sink.
  • If something doesn’t feel right during a lift; stop and reassess the situation, is there a safer way to do the task?
  • Never override the computer in a mobile crane.
  • Ensure you have carefully read and understood the load charts for a mobile crane before you use it.
  • Never use a mobile phone whilst operating a mobile crane. You wouldn’t use a phone whilst driving on a car – it’s the same thing.