Increased demand for tower crane rental units is set to continue as contractors see this as a more cost effective option given the cost of construction equipment ownership which has been exacerbated by the declining rand/euro exchange rate.
Louw Smit, sales manager at SA French, a division of Torre Lifting Solutions, says that renting such a crucial materials handling tool on a full service package makes perfect sense, especially on short to medium contracts.
“The cost of owning capital equipment is more expensive overall when compared to renting the same machine,” says Smit.
“And when it comes to a tower crane there are additional factors that come into play. Tower cranes are not always a case of one size fits all and the requirement on each contract will call for a specific configuration that can cater for the lifting capacities at a specific radius. Contractors cannot always afford to maintain an extensive tower crane fleet and making do is not an appropriate option as this could jeopardise safety and cycle time during lifting operations on site,” Smit adds.
Renting a tower crane also allows a contractor to lower the working capital costs on a project, and it gives ready access to machines that incorporate the latest technology.
SA French operates a large tower crane rental fleet which includes both tower cranes and hydraulic self-erecting cranes. The range covers from units with a 46m jib and 3ton lifting capacity to tower cranes with a 70m jib and a maximum lift capacity of 16 tons. Smit says that the most recent addition to the rental fleet has been four new generation Potain tower cranes. These machines, which were manufactured at Potain’s facility in Asia, will be used on a construction project in Fourways.
An important service that forms part of the total rental package is that SA French engineers will assess the project and site requirements prior to recommending a particular tower crane. In addition the company will assist with site layout to ensure that the best coverage and hook time is achieved to complete the project timeously.
“Generally speaking, tower cranes can be erected in three days and all our rental units are signed off by SA French’s qualified Lifting Machine Inspectors,” Smit explains.
This gives the customer absolute assurance that all safety parameters have been met. Lifting Machine Inspectors are registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
Significantly, two of the SA French technicians recently qualified as Master Technicians in France, putting these individuals in an elite bracket of only 30 such technicians worldwide.
Another factor that makes rental more attractive to contractors is that maintaining equipment is not their primary business activity. Smit says that renting equipment allows a contractor to supplement its fleet without incurring the expenses associated with preventive maintenance, servicing and storage, and yet still ensures access to state-of-the-art lifting equipment with all the advantages that brings to a project.
This belief is underscored by the fact the SA French rental fleet business attracts a large proportion of repeat customers.
“The depth of the rental fleet we maintain allows us to service all customer needs and still provide the most appropriate tower crane for a given project,” says Smit.
Preventative maintenance forms part of the rental package and tower cranes are serviced on site while operating on the project. The tower crane's condition is monitored and when returned at the project end the machine is assessed and repair work and where necessary full refurbishment is done by the company. This ensures that all tower cranes going out on a rental basis will achieve the requisite high performance and reliability for which Potain machines are known.
Commenting on industry sectors where Potain tower cranes are operating on a rental basis, Smit says the spread is across most industries with units on construction sites where hospitals, office developments, hotels and shopping malls are being built as well as on infrastructure projects, on mines and in petrochemical facilities.
“Renting a tower crane is not the only options, and we do concede that it is a situational decision determined on a case-by-case basis. We are, however, well positioned to assist a contractor in determining what is best suited to an individual project site,” he says.
SA French also offers a range of material and man hoists for rental, and these are typically used by the same contractors that rent tower cranes.