Crane owners shrug-off global slowdown

Among world’s 50 largest crane owners, fleet sizes are static over the last three years and overall lifting capacities steadily increased, according to new report.

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The number of cranes owned by the world’s 50 largest crane rental companies (the IC50) has remained almost unchanged over the last four years, despite hostile economic conditions. This finding is just one of numerous conclusions drawn from the new World Crane Report, an Executive Report published by KHL Group.

Since 2008, numbers have ranged from 21,467 to 22,002 cranes. Prior to that there was a period of steep growth in the global fleet, from a low point of 15,540 units in 2004.

The world’s 50 largest crane owning companies had a fleet of 21,896 cranes in 2012, with a total lifting capacity of some 4.98 million tonnes. The fleet is dominated by mobile wheeled cranes, with a split of 78:22, mobiles to crawlers in unit terms.

Although crane numbers have remained flat since 2008, the total lifting capacity of the fleet has continued to climb. At 4.98 million tonnes in 2012, it was 47% higher than 2008 and more than 200% greater than the level seen in 2003.

The growth in capacity over the last four years taken with flat crane numbers implies that companies in the IC50 have adopted a policy of replacing smaller cranes with higher capacity units. The average lifting capacity of an IC50 crane was 227 tonnes in 2012, compared to 158 tonnes in 2008 and 93 tonnes in 2003.

World Crane Report author, Chris Sleight said, “It is striking that in the most difficult economic conditions experienced for the last 60 years or more, the world’s largest crane owners have not only maintained their fleet sizes, but also invested heavily in increasing lifting capacity. This indicates a robust health at the top end of the global crane rental industry.”

This World Crane Report is the most comprehensive study ever prepared into the global crane sector. It is broadly split into two sections, one focussing on crane manufacturers, which examines their financial performance, stock market performance and standing within the wider construction equipment industry. This draws on unique studies by International Cranes & Specialized Transport, such as the ICM 20 league table of crane manufacturers and the IC Share Index.

The second section looks at crane owners worldwide, drawing on ten years of data from International Cranes & Specialized Transport’s IC50 ranking. This in itself is a unique study in the market, but in this report we have taken the information one step further with analysis of long-term trends in the industry.

It analyses changes in fleet size & composition, lifting capacity, employment, number of locations and how these factors play into the wider economic picture. This analysis has been carried out for the global IC50 group, with separate sections on major crane owners in Europe and North America. These illustrate some striking differences between operations on different sides of the Atlantic.

The World Crane Report is available to buy at

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