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Five trends driving innovation in mobile crane truck manufacturing

July 7, 2023  By Emily Newton

Emily Newton

Incredible new technologies and features in next-gen vehicles are being adopted to meet the shifting needs of crane operators

Mobile crane trucks are gaining popularity for a growing range of applications, leading to exciting innovations in vehicle design. Manufacturers are adopting some incredible new technologies and features in their next-gen vehicles, designed to meet the shifting needs of crane operators.

What are the main trends powering innovation in the market today and how are they changing crane design?

1. Integrating More Technology and Sensors

Mobile cranes are receiving new technologies and sensors that improve operational and mechanical visibility. Crane truck manufacturers are taking advantage of a new niche of equipment technology known as telematics, which uses sensors to improve vehicle management. Telematics devices can monitor driver performance, maintenance issues, fuel consumption and more.

Integrating telematics and sensors in new mobile cranes allows manufacturers to ensure their vehicles have native support for the latest technologies. Telematics is excellent for improving safety and vehicle performance in particular. With predictive maintenance sensors, manufacturers can help their customers expand the life span of their mobile cranes and reduce maintenance costs.

Additionally, more technology is coming to the driver’s cab. Computers and cameras can expand drivers’ visibility, improving job site safety. These advancements even reflect in crane driver training programs, which increasingly use technology like simulators. The next generation of equipment operators is adept at using technology, so more of it is coming into new vehicle designs.

2. Strengthening Fuel Efficiency for Reduced Emissions

Fuel efficiency and emissions are increasing concerns for businesses and the public. Large vehicles like mobile cranes can produce high emissions and consume more excess fuel than consumer vehicles. According to Natural Resources Canada, a diesel bus burns four-to-eight litres of fuel daily while idling. If drivers reduced their idling to three minutes per day, they could release 1.4 million less tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Mobile crane manufacturers are responding to this issue by taking steps to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. This benefits crane operators as well, since higher fuel efficiency reduces fuel consumption, saving money.

The technology in next-generation crane trucks is essential to improving fuel efficiency. Telematics sensors are the perfect tool for monitoring fuel consumption, allowing crane operators to see when and where fuel is wasted. Manufacturers and industry pros are using GPS tools to help drivers identify the most fuel-efficient routes, as well. Vehicle sensors can also highlight maintenance issues that cause poor fuel efficiency, such as tire pressure or wheel alignment issues.

3. Improved Maneuverability with Articulated Booms

Businesses and individuals are using mobile cranes for a growing variety of applications. As a result, diverse demand is driving manufacturers to offer innovative mechanical options. A great example of this trend is increasing interest in articulated booms or knuckle booms.

Mobile cranes with this type of boom have significantly improved maneuverability compared with stick boom cranes. Knuckle boom cranes are lighter and more compact, making them great for urban areas or cramped job sites where a traditional crane would be unwieldy.

The versatility of an articulated boom means operators can use a single crane truck for a wide range of applications, potentially filling the roles of multiple pieces of equipment. The design of knuckle boom cranes also allows them to handle horizontal lifting easier than stick booms often can, improving operational safety.

4. Higher Comfort and Functionality with Truck Cranes

On the design front, more and more mobile crane manufacturers are adopting the truck crane form factor. The mobile crane market is expected to grow by $4.72 billion from 2021 to 2028. Truck cranes are a major trend driving that growth.

These cranes are quick and easy to operate, and feature a more comfortable cab than conventional cranes. Customer demand for these features is likely in part a reflection of the growing variety of mobile crane users.

For example, thousands of people started businesses or began major DIY projects during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Many of those small businesses could be new to using heavy equipment like cranes and want something easy to operate.

Truck cranes are also a versatile investment. They’re compact, maneuverable and feature plenty of storage space, even with the built-in crane. Individuals and businesses looking for high-value equipment can get a lot out of the multipurpose design of a truck crane. Manufacturers will likely start producing more of this type of mobile crane over the next several years.

Additionally, manufacturers may work to improve assembly complexity in response to this trend. Expanding mobile crane adoption relies on making these cranes as user-friendly as possible. Simplified assembly and disassembly designs allow users to operate and care for their mobile cranes with less confusion.

5. All-Terrain Design Improvements

Urban environments aren’t the only spaces experiencing increased mobile crane use. Off-road and rugged job sites are increasingly popular places for mobile crane operation. Advancements in mechanical technology have improved mobile crane performance over recent years. This combined with a desire to save money is leading many people to invest in a mobile crane rather than a conventional one, even in rugged environments.

As a result, manufacturers are experiencing higher demand for all-terrain performance improvements. Truck cranes provide excellent mobility but need greater durability and stability features to succeed in unpredictable, uneven terrain. These cranes can also benefit from improved visibility, allowing operators to be more aware of their surroundings.

Mobile crane manufacturers can take a range of approaches to improve all-terrain performance. Features like safe lifting sensors, more durable tire designs, and greater safe lifting heights and radiuses can all help next-gen mobile cranes perform better in all-terrain applications.

The Future of Mobile Crane Manufacturing

Mobile cranes and truck cranes are gaining popularity in a diverse range of applications and industries. As a result, manufacturers are innovating their vehicle designs and features to meet the changing needs of crane operators. Ease of use, maneuverability, maintenance monitoring, fuel efficiency and all-terrain functionality are just a few of the leading trends moving the sector forward. The next generation of mobile cranes will be more user-friendly, tech-powered and energy efficient.

About the author: Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She regularly covers news and trends in the construction and industrial sectors, and is a regular contributor to Crane & Hoist Canada magazine.

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