Specialists in vertical and horizontal heavy transport
Aertssen Machinery Services' crawler crane fleet expansion is driven by the increasing lifting capacities on modern construction sites.
UAE-based heavy lift and heavy transport specialist company Aertssen Machinery Services (AMS) operates a fleet of crawler cranes, mobile cranes and low loader trailers. The crane fleet includes 100 mobile and crawler cranes with lifting capacities in the range of 40–1600 tonnes as well low loader trailers. The mobile cranes include rough-terrain cranes with lifting capacities up to 145 tonnes and all-terrain cranes with capacities up to 700 tonnes.
AMS serves the GCC markets from its office and yard in Abu Dhabi. Cranes on hire are transported from Abu Dhabi to job sites across the region on a project-by-project basis.
Over 70% of AMS’ orders come from the oil & gas industry, followed by marine and new building construction projects. Recent heavy lifting jobs involving AMS’ cranes include lifting and placing of precast blocks, steel structures and beams at the Khalifa Port, Yas Arena, Shindagha Bridge, Dubai Metro Route 2020, and Dubai Harbour. AMS has also engineered lifting solutions for stadium construction projects in the GCC.
Tony Nuyts, general manager, Aertssen Machinery Services, describes the company’s rental model and customer base.
“AMS operates as a rental company and contractor that provides engineering, transportation and lifting solutions. Our rental offering includes lift engineering, ground bearing pressures calculations, safety plans, method statements, risk assessments, service, maintenance, and CICPA security passes which are required for working on critical infrastructure in Abu Dhabi,” says Nuyts.
“We seek long-term and lump-sum contracts where we can offer both heavy lifting and heavy transport services throughout the duration of the projects. On such projects, our scope of work could extend from a few months to years. For example, we’ve been involved in the construction of the ADNOC offshore field and artificial islands. Our cranes have been working at the site for over six years and continue to load and unload barges every day,” he adds.
Dorien Matthys, project coordinator, Aertssen Machinery Services, says: “We’re not in the business of daily or short-term rentals, but we have a monthly hire option. Occasionally, we handle complex erection and dismantling of tower cranes. Sometimes the job requirement is just one lift and may require only one day, such as lifting a jacket and loading it on a barge. The complex and time consuming part of such jobs is the lift engineering and safety plan.”
Tony Nuyts, general manager, and Dorien Matthys, project coordinator, Aertssen Machinery Services.
Nuyts points out that the company’s success in delivering complex projects can be attributed to its high safety standards. AMS boasts a safety track record of over 2.5 million man-hours without LTI.
“We accept jobs only if we can guarantee the highest safety standards. All our operators are trained in-house and are encouraged to report any situation where they are required to stretch the limits of the crane that would jeopardise safety,” says Nuyts.
Alongside safety requirements AMS’ fleet upgrade and expansion is driven by the changing lifting requirements on modern construction sites. According to Nuyts, customers are demanding larger cranes because the speed of construction and size of parts on modern construction sites require higher lifting capacities.
“Today a 150-tonne crane could be considered a small machine. With increase in the applications and sizes of prefabricated components, building parts are being manufactured in different parts of world, transported to construction sites and assembled on site. We need to keep up with new lifting applications by investing in new equipment. Furthermore, several projects have strict terms and conditions about the equipment approved for their sites, such as the age of equipment should not exceed five years, or that the equipment should be from certain manufacturers or made in certain countries,” says Nuyts.
Currently, HSC crawler cranes constitute 50% of the AMS fleet. AMS’ relationship with Hitachi is as old as AMS itself, which was formed 50 years ago in Belgium where AMS procured its first crawler cranes from the local Hitachi Construction Machinery dealer Luyckx group. The company took the same approach when it entered the Middle East in 2006.
“When we started operations in the UAE, it was natural decision for us to extend our relationship with Hitachi Construction Machinery through its local dealer Middle East Crane Equipment Trading (MECET), which is a member of the Luyckx Group. The first crawler cranes we purchased were a 150t and 250t Hitachi models which are still in operation today,” says Nuyts.
Unsurprisingly, AMS most recently come to principle agreement for a package of HSC Crane models. A few week ago, AMS placed an order with MECET for two SCX2800-2 units to be delivered in early 2020, and to be followed by deliveries of six SCX2800-3 units and four SCX1500-3 units.
“The HSC SCX2800-3 and SCX1500-3 crawler cranes are among the most versatile machines in our fleet. We have used them for different applications and they’ve had the highest utilisation. So, investing in additional units is a no-brainer. Another main reason for our continued investment in Hitachi has been the after-sales service from MECET. Although we handle the maintenance and repair of cranes in-house, at our workshop, the Middle East environmental conditions, particularly the humidity, heat, sand and salt, can subject machines to rapid wear and tear. This often requires a fast response from the dealer and availability of spare parts, which MECET has provided in every emergency situation,” explains Nuyts.
AMS’ fleet expansion reflects the company’s outlook for the region, and much of its optimism comes from the oil & gas industry.
“We expect some large oil & gas projects to start in the GCC in 2020, and mega projects in the pipeline in Saudi Arabia give us a positive outlook for the next few years,” says Nuyts.
This year, the company expanded its business infrastructure by opening its new premises in ICAD III, Abu Dhabi. The 30,000 m2 facility houses the AMS office, workshop and warehouse.
“This investment reinforces our long-term commitment to this region. Our priority is not about having the largest fleet or becoming the largest crane rental service provider, but to be the best in selected markets and establish ourselves as a specialist vertical and horizontal heavy transport solutions provider,” says Nuyts.