There is already a distinct shortage of rental tower crane units locally, says Louw Smit, sales director of Crane & Hoist Equipment SA.
With more than 12 years’ experience in the tower crane sector, Louw was mentored by Quentin van Breda, the now retired founder and managing director of SA French, and believes there will be a turn in local market conditions towards the purchase of new tower cranes again.
The recently-established Crane & Hoist Equipment SA is a specialist operation that will supply new and refurbished cranes as well as construction hoists to the sub-Saharan markets.
“With an eye on being a sustainable business and keeping our customers top of mind, we have to ensure that there are options available for the built environment and infrastructure contractors, some of whom are feeling the effects of the slowdown in contracts being awarded,” he adds.
“Tower cranes are definitely not an off-the-shelf product. Each tower crane is unique and configured for the exact application requirement of the contract.”
As an example, he points to the instance where a contractor is faced with space constraints. This is one of the more frequent challenges being experienced as more and more construction is taking place in heavily built-up areas. In many cases, a construction site could be surrounded by buildings on three sides which can prove challenging for a contractor in terms of mitigating the materials handling activities while striving for optimum productivity.
“The best option in this scenario would be the use of a luffing jib crane,” Louw advises. Essentially, this crane is configured in such a way that the luffing jib is raised which allows slewing to take place without affecting the surrounding buildings. On a large site, use of these cranes will also allow more than one to be in action at the same time.
Contractors who partner with competent technical tower crane experts are at a distinct advantage as they have access to people with an in-depth understanding of tower cranes configurations. Louw explains that the special configuration of the mast will allow for a higher freestanding height of the tower crane itself, which is a good solution for high rise structures.
“But what is extremely important, is for contractors to communicate directly with a specialist supplier prior to site layout to ensure that the materials handling solution is fit for the actual conditions and application.
“In the above example of the increased free standing height option, this tower crane would not have to be tied into the building or anchored which will give the contractor both a time and cost saving on the project,” he adds.
“Often when we are involved from the initial site layout, we are able to offer alternate materials handling solutions to the contractor, and in some cases it is preferable from a cost-saving perspective to make use of a tower crane in the initial stage of the project and then to use a construction hoist.”
More and more hoists
Construction hoists have gained traction in this sector as they are ideal for the vertical movement of personnel and materials, and significantly reduce the manual handling of equipment and materials. Hoists are not only suitable for almost all lifting activities on a site, but can travel at a speed that is both safe and effective, increasing productivity on site.
Wealth of experience
Commenting on the new company, Louw says he is excited about future prospects, and that the key to Crane & Hoist Equipment SA’s success lies in the wealth of experience of its management team and the commitment of its people.
Operations director Danie Roos, with over 18 years’ experience in the industry, has in-depth technical knowledge and will be able to provide sound technical product support to clients.
Managing director, Brenden Crous adds that in the high risk environment in which tower cranes and hoists operate, there is no room for error.
“Quality and safety are a priority for us which translates to all our products and services,” says Brenden. “Further by providing turnkey tower crane management and lifting solutions, we offer a major differentiator to industry. Our clients can focus on their core business knowing that their lifting and materials handling equipment is well maintained and compliant with legislation.”