High-tech designed to be used in rough terrains, RT cranes still have a shy participation in the Brazilian fleet. Understand why.
Each equipment is designed to match a necessity through the more appropriate and safe way. Under this point of view, rough terrain (RT) cranes are specific for load lifting and handling operations in rugged terrains and off-road applications, where other models would probably jam or would not have the same performance. These cranes may be used in places with harsh conditions or restricted access, with low space for maneuvering, positioning and moving. This is their best feature.
But since there are no regulations in Brazil that demand appropriate models for each type of work in rough terrains (situation where also the technical common sense would prevail), it is common to find a crane for road work misused in off-road applications, where a RT crane should be used. “Although road cranes fulfill the role of lifting loads, they are not designed to work in harsh terrains”, explains Leandro Nilo de Moura, marketing manager from Manitowoc Cranes. “Road tires have not enough traction or adherence. Therefore, if the terrain is in bad condition, the crane will jam.”
In these situations, some works use an agricultural tractor to unstuck the crane, pulling it with a steel rope, a risky task that may affect safety if the rope breaks. “Contractors and the market of projects should establish standards and criteria to define the types of equipment to be used in different types of terrain and working conditions. This would allow each machine to develop its job in a safe and efficient way”, says Moura.
Because of that, RT cranes had a strong reduction of their demand, pressed by the crisis of oil & gas industry and of other areas of the economy. The sales volume in 2017 is the lowest in the last ten years. This is confirmed by the sales identified till August: less than five cranes sold in the Brazilian market, according to data from the Federal Revenue.
This is an impressive figure, since it is quite inexpressive, but it is not a surprise since it was collected in a period of politic-economic crisis that the country is struggling to surpass. The reality would be much better, considering that more than 100 RT units were sold in 2011 and approximately 150 units were sold in 2012. “In fact, renters in general prefer other models of cranes due to their easy transport by road and use in quick works”, confirms Elton Wu, from Sany.
He estimates that that there are about 500 RT cranes in the Brazilian fleet, but he does not see an increase in the demand for this equipment in short and medium term due to the decelerated pace of the investments. “Crane market as a whole is feeling the consequences of the reduction of public and private investments”, completes Resende, from Tadano. “But in the specific case of lower-capacity RT cranes there is an aggravating factor: the competition with other types of lifting equipment such as telehandlers, even having more specific applications”.
Moura, from Manitowoc, agrees and adds that the inappropriate use of other equipment in place of a RT crane in some situations also generates inappropriate statistics, which do not comply with the real needs of application in Brazil. “In operations where a RT crane should be used and that an AT is effectively used, there is an increase in the improper participation of a model in place of another, designed to carry out such activity”, says him. “Anyhow, the use of models AT and TC in place of RT also helped to pull down the participation of these cranes in sales.”
In the absence of the models RT in the off-road operations carried out in the market, the types of cranes more used are the truck crane (TC) with telescopic boom for the most difficult operations, and the all terrain (AT) crane.
But the use of other models in operations to be carried out only by RT cranes—specifically designed to do them—may arise risks such as accidents when traveling in workplaces where the terrain is really uneven and productivity is reduced. “Since road cranes generally have the outrigging controls installed in the carrier undercarriage, there is a loss of time in outrigging operation, since it is necessary to get down from the cab to operate the outriggers”, explains Rezende. “Normally, RT outriggers are commanded from the cab. In addition, the procedures of fixing and releasing the hook block to the structure of the machine—carried out after the operations—usually take more time in the road models.”
The larger dimensions of road cranes—when compared to an RT of the same capacity—and the steering only in the front axle demand more maneuvering time for these cranes.
If an AT crane operates in place of an RT crane, the operating cost will be higher. “AT models cannot travel on roads without an auxiliary vehicle to transport their counterweights in mobilization and demobilization. They are also a type of equipment with high cost of acquisition and maintenance and of complex operation”, says Rezende.