Johnson Crane Hire is positioning itself as a heavy lifting solutions provider rather than a crane hire company as it focuses on alternative lifting technologies as being complementary to cranes. “Adopting alternative lifting technologies has definitely given us an edge in the marketplace. This falls within the ambit of our brand promise, which is total cost effective solutions,” James Robinson, Heavy Lift Manager for the Crawler Cranes and Projects division of Johnson Crane Hire, says.
“We have the equipment, but more importantly, we have the expertise to apply to solutions. This is a highly specialised and niche sector of the market. What sets us apart is that our experience and intellectual property reside within Johnson Crane Hire; we are very much hands-on and in-house.” Robinson says that while “sometimes there is no getting away from using a crane,” alternative lifting technologies come into their own in terms of expanding into the African market, or where the need arises.
“We love cranes, but know it is not always practical to send a crane into Africa. When it is there it does the best job possible, but the logistics of getting it there is almost a project in and of itself. Alternative lifting technologies are a lot easier to mobilise and therefore represent a much more cost effective solution in some instances,” Robinson says.
“These are ideal when it comes to once-off projects. As soon as the work becomes repetitive and we need to have a lot of flexibility, then cranes are the answer. However, when you can specifically design a lift and it follows a certain set of criteria, then alternative lifting technologies are the best. We are always on the lookout for integrated solutions that best meet our clients’ needs.”
While Johnson Crane Hire has already used jacking and sliding techniques to great success on some projects, Robinson says “there is a range of other technologies where we have the know-how and are ready to expand into if need be.” These include hydraulic gantries and strand jacking. However, the latest trend is Self-Propelled Modular Trailers (SPMTs). “These are modular trailers like Lego pieces with hundreds of wheels underneath them that are assembled to whatever size is needed. It forms a platform that essentially drives itself.”
The Crawler Cranes and Projects division of Johnson Crane Hire is ideally positioned to offer such alternative lifting technologies to its clients. “We have invested in one of the latest versions of jacking and sliding technology, opting for a system that is ultra portable. This is particularly important in confined or cramped areas where you cannot get any other sliding equipment in,” Robinson says.
In keeping with its focus on total solutions, Johnson Crane Hire has invested significantly in boosting its crawler crane fleet. “We recently expanded our big cranes, not in terms of capacity, but in numbers. We now have a 750 t lattice boom truck mounted crane, a 600 t crawler crane and a 750 t mobile crane.” Robinson says the truck mount lattice boom unit has been acquired specifically for the wind energy sector, where installation of wind turbines is a growing market in South Africa.
Looking at the latest trends, Robinson says there is a move towards the modularisation of plant equipment, which reduces assembly time and enhances both quality and improves. Modules are transported to location and erected on site. “I think the trend is definitely going to be for larger lifts, which falls in line with our portfolio of crawler cranes, in which we have made a substantial investment, especially in terms of capacity.”
Robinson concludes that Johnson Crane Hire will continue to offer its clients the latest innovations. “Within a competitive market, clients are always demanding better solutions. There are some exciting innovations in alternative technologies that we are keen to bring to the market, as it strives to keep with international best practice and standards. However, our ongoing investment in our crawler crane fleet shows we are fully committed to our total solutions.”