Latest Lifting Africa Nov-Dec 2021

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COVER STORY

The crane industry continues to feel the ill effects of the global Covid pandemic Hopes, however, are high that 2022 will bring increased certainty and opportunity to the market. Lifting Africa spoke to Jacques Roux, managing director of Sky Cranes Africa, for his perspective and outlook. It is hard to find any good news in the Covid-19 crisis. The past two years have by no means been easy on industries and the tower crane industry is no different. “It has been tough out there,” says Roux highlighting that too many cranes are still lying on the ground at present. “The construction industry has been very slow since the outbreak of the pandemic and this, in turn, has impacted on the crane industry. Crane companies have been under real pressure in recent months.” According to Roux, they have been lucky at Sky Cranes Africa thanks to a contract that kept the team running for most of 2021. “After the initial lockdown when we were able to re-open our business, we successfully won a contract for work on a power station and that kept us busy for a large part of the year.” Offering competitive pricing and contract specifications Sky Cranes Africa specializes in tower cranes repairs,

erections, dismantling, servicing, spares, breakdowns, load testing and sales. Despite the drop in projects and the decline in work, Roux remains extremely positive saying quotations and general enquiries are definitely on the increase after everything ground to a near halt in 2020. “If I compare the enquiries and quotes we are doing now to last year then there is improvement and we are very hopeful for 2022. I think we are going to see an improvement in the market in the next few years. I am very hopeful that we are going to see improvement in the construction sector as well.” According to Roux, the uptick in requests for quotations on its own is a positive development. “People are starting to realise that life has to go on despite the ongoing pandemic and that it is essential that we start functioning within this new normal environment. I believe we are going to see projects start to take off again which bodes very well for the crane industry at large.” Despite the tough operating environment of the past two years companies like Sky Crane Africa and other tower crane companies have managed to hold their own. “We have proved ourselves resilient to some extent,” says Roux. “During our quiet times, we have kept busy refurbishing our own fleet, making sure we are ready for any future demand. I believe it is important to keep busy and not give up. With that in mind, we have ensured that our staff are trained and that our equipment is in good condition.” Changing times The market has seen some real changes since the outbreak of the pandemic. With cost-saving at the top of the agenda, most cranes are now bought or rented on an as-needed basis. “Clients are looking for optimal material handling solutions that ensure maximum productivity on sites all the time,” says Roux. “We have seen a drop in the sale of cranes. Few companies are outright purchasing cranes, but having said that, even the rental market has slowed down.” Covid had introduced so much uncertainty that many companies were playing a waiting game these days. Where cranes have been required, it is all about having

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Lifting Africa - Nov/Dec 2021


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