Words by Tom Batley, Managing Director, Marr Contracting International
When it comes to choosing anything you need – whether it’s a new car, a new kitchen, the best tools for your business – the thing you want is the best fit for your needs and budget. Essentially, it’s about finding the product and service that gives you the best value and most benefit. At Marr Contracting, we believe the same principle applies when it comes to selecting a craneage solution for a construction project. It’s about reframing “what fits” to “best fit” to ensure optimum construction performance.
Why? Let me give you an analogy. You need a truck to bring your materials to the site. There are two options available. Truck A has the capacity and gives you what you want, but it’s more expensive. Truck B is cheaper but doesn’t have as much payload. So, you opt for Truck B because you’ve saved some of your budget. But the thing is, it takes four trips in Truck B to deliver your materials to the site. Truck A would have done it in one. You are losing time on the job.
You have chosen “what fits the budget” instead of the “best fit for the project” and because of that, you have compromised the efficiency of the build. Often, the same scenario plays out in crane selection. For construction, achieving the crane budget, a small package in relative terms on most projects, can expose the project to the risk of delay and inefficiency through the selection of what fits as opposed to the best fit.
There is a better way and the “best fit” will always pay off.
Early engagement is key
The answer is to view the selection of the crane solution and the provider of the services to support that package as a strategic project decision and not merely a budget compliance exercise. Through early engagement with your specialist crane suppliers, the benefits of the “best fit” can be determined and factored into the design and development of the construction and logistics plan, as opposed to deciding a construction logic and then enquiring of the crane suppliers, “What have you got available that fits this logic?”
The early engagement approach to crane selection will change the way a project is delivered with benefits cascading through the whole EPC cycle. As a result of early engagement, technical and logistical clarity is achieved, enabling engineering and procurement activities to proceed in an informed manner, which ultimately matches the construction requirements to suit the best fit crane selection.
Your craneage specialist can advise and support across all aspects of the process that determines the best fit crane solution for a project including lifting methodology, crane capacity, optimum crane position to reflect site logistical constrains, temporary works design and integration, transport logistics for major components and outsize pieces, operating cycles and patterns, maintenance scheduling and component and assembly logic.
Early engagement with your crane solution partner will also ensure the cranes required to suit the projects schedule requirements are available. Dependent on the crane type and the bespoke scope for implementation of the solution, considerations such as equipment lead time, project specific design changes to equipment and temporary works design and supply can be defined and managed to eliminate schedule risk and potential permanent works engineering rework.
You do not want to do all the design work and turn to your crane provider, when design is frozen, to find the cranes you need are not available. That’s a sure way of not ending up with “what fits” as an answer, but the wrong answer.
Lessons from EPC projects and maintenance shutdowns
On reflection, there are lessons to be learned from the approach of large EPC projects and maintenance shutdowns on petrochemical plants and power plants. They need to plan years ahead for shutdowns because for every day they are offline, it costs them a fortune in lost revenue.
Organisations delivering these types of projects plan ahead for everything and lock in their supplier needs early. The reward comes when they get back into production on-time and start earning money again.
You can achieve the same for your project by engaging early with your specialist craneage provider to decide on the “best fit” lifting solution. Lock in the crane availability quickly. Advise your engineering and design teams of the craneage methodology, lifting capacity and positioning of the cranes on site, and let them design accordingly.
Innovation is not a light bulb moment. It is hard work that takes time from concept through design into implementation. Collaboration in the innovation process is the key to success, so the benefits the solution brings to a project are fully understood and maximised.
At Marr we look to reduce the number of cranes on a project, so they are fully utilised and productive. We know from experience that less can be more with an ideal craneage solution, but only when you choose the “best fit”.
This article was first published in Construction Week Middle East (May 2022).