A new study carried out in partnership between Off-Highway Research and International Cranes and Specialized Transport (ICST) magazine sheds new light on the development, size and composition of the world’s largest mobile crane fleets.
Based on a multi-year analysis of ICST’s IC50 league table of the world’s largest crane-owning companies, the report looks at how crane numbers and lifting capacities have changed over the years.
The IC50 is based on the total load moment of each company’s fleet in tonne-metres. Companies listed in the rankings have an IC Index from 42,600 tonne metres at the bottom to more than 3.5 million for the first-placed company.
Fleet sizes vary from around 50 cranes for the smallest companies to 3,365 for the largest fleet (in unit terms) in the ranking. In 2021, seven IC50 companies had a fleet of 1,000 cranes or more.
The average load moment per crane for IC50 companies was 888 tonne metres in 2021. This equates to a 296 tonne capacity wheeled crane or a 178 tonne capacity crawler. Companies in the IC50 can also generally be split into those focusing on the heavy lift applications, which generally have fewer heavier cranes, or those more in the mass market, which have larger fleets of relatively lighter machines. This can be discerned by their average IC Index per crane and its variance from the global average.
Having said that, there is a clear trend for almost all IC50 companies to move to heavier lift cranes over time. This is observed in the growth of the total IC Index, which has doubled over the last decade, compared to only a 19 per cent rise in the total number of cranes owned. The trend is also illustrated by the average lifting capacity of the largest crane in each fleet, which has risen from 800 tonnes twenty years ago to more than 1,200 tonnes in 2021.
Metrics derived from the IC50 indicate relative stability, compared to the global crane market as a whole. However, whereas the cyclical mobile crane market tends to swing up or down by 10 per cent or more per year, changes in the IC 50 fleet are more modest, moving by single digit amounts each year. There is a correlation between growth in the IC50 fleet and GDP growth.
At over 100 pages long, the new report, Global Mobile Crane Fleets, is believed to be a unique analysis of the worldwide crane rental industry, charting its development over more than a decade. Sections include an analysis of the global market for cranes, which is tied to metrics from the IC 50 including changes in load moment, number of cranes, fleet composition, and staff and employee numbers.
This provides insights into how the world’s largest crane companies – which in 2021 owned a combined fleet of almost 34,000 cranes – develop their fleets and position themselves in the market. It will be of interest to crane manufacturers and other suppliers to the lifting industry as they seek to understand their largest customers, as well as to crane rental companies themselves which wish to benchmark their businesses against competitors and look for new opportunities.