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ESTA COLUMN

HeavyTorque Issue Four: ESTA Column

JIB MEN JIB

CRANE FIRMS FEAR JOB LOSSES OVER NEW ENGINE EMISSIONS REGULATIONS

ESTA CALLS ON MEMBERS TO LOBBY BRUSSELS

ESTA is the European association for abnormal road transport and mobile cranes. It is calling on members to collectively put pressure on the European Commission ‘by every available avenue’: and so change proposed new engine emissions regulations to give the crane industry a longer transition period to introduce them. ESTA members, such as the UK’s Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) and the Heavy Transport Association (HTA), are being asked to contact their MEPs, EC officials and committee members, as well as members of their own national parliaments. On-going discussions in Brussels reach an important milestone in September. Then they come before a meeting of the European Commission’s influential environment committee.

The issue is the proposed new Stage V engine emissions regulations for construction equipment and non-road machinery. Mobile crane users and crane manufacturers believe the current timetable for implementing them is unworkable. They have told EU officials it will cause thousands of job losses while the industry adapts to the changes. And crane rental companies are concerned the change could lead to shortages of new equipment while the industry tries to get into line. The problem for crane manufacturers is how changes to the engine can affect the whole design of a crane, impacting on a machine’s weight and centre of gravity.

The manufacturers – members of the FEM’s Cranes and Lifting Equipment Product Group – argue they need three years to implement the changes, rather than the twelve-month transition period currently envisaged. They say that if the European Commission sticks to its proposals, they will have to slash manufacturing capacity by two-thirds while they adjust to the new regulations – a move that would almost certainly lead to the temporary loss of thousands of jobs. ESTA is supporting the manufacturers’ cause, arguing the directive will lead to shortages of some models and an increase in emissions in the short-term as crane users are forced to use older machines.

The Commission proposals are contained  in ‘Directive 97/68/EC – Draft’, which sets out details of the new, more stringent Stage V engine emission limits for engines in the power range of 130-560kW. It is currently envisaged that the directive will become mandatory by January 1, 2019. OEMs using such engines in their machines – amongst them the European mobile crane manufacturers under the FEM umbrella –would then have a twelve- month period to adapt their machines to Stage V engines. The regulation will affect all types of construction equipment, but are especially difficult for the mobile crane manufacturers to implement because of the impact of engine changes on the whole performance of a mobile crane.

“It is not a like for like exchange,” ESTA Director Søren Jansen explained. “The engines get bigger and heavier with additional equipment and systems. “The possibility of adapting such an engine system to the needs of a specific crane model are very limited, so instead the crane must be adapted to the required engine system. “In other words, changing the engine system requires changes to the engine bay which in turn changes the weight and centre of gravity of the crane. So what starts with the engine bay may them involve significant changes to the carrier, superstructure, and even the boom.”

The FEM’s stance has brought it into conflict with the position adopted by CECE, the Committee for European Construction Equipment. CECE wants an extension, but of only six months, compared to the additional two years demanded by the FEM’s product group CECE argues that six months will be enough “to enable all manufacturers to comply”.

Mobile crane manufacturers say that their position is different and unique: they have a large number of models – approximately 40 per manufacturer – and because of the impact of the engine changes on overall design. They insist that they are not over-stating the problem. German media reported that Liebherr-Werk Ehingen managing directors, Hubert Hummel and Ulrich Hamme, had told a delegation of MEPs in June of their fears that, if the current plans are implemented, they will have to cut production by up to 70 per cent. And the concerns received further credence in a new independent study, recently commissioned by the FEM, from Professor Willibald Guenthner, of the Technical University in Munich, on the impact of the proposed directive on the mobile crane industry.

The report said that the moving from Stage IIIb to Stage IV engines took over four years and cost the industry €57 million. He predicted that the move to Stage V will cost a further €66 million and would take four and a half years to complete. Søren Jansen said: “Without the changes we are looking for, this directive will cause huge problems for the whole crane market – not just the manufacturers. “It will impact on residual values, and crane owners will be forced to overhaul and use older equipment for longer as newer models will not be available – so if we do not win this argument, crane owners had better start planning for this situation.”

RULE CHANGE OPENS THE DOOR FOR NEW FIRMS TO JOIN ESTA

A radical rule change adopted by ESTA, the European association for abnormal road transport and mobile cranes, means that individual companies can now become official supporters and be directly involved in the organisations’ work.

The change means that becoming an ESTA supporter is open to all operating companies active in crane rental or abnormal road transport – such as members of the HTA of the Construction Plant-hire Association in the UK. However, supporters must be members of their relevant national association, which itself must be an ESTA member, and be prepared to endorse ESTA’s overall goals.

ESTA hopes that the move will enable the European association to draw on the expertise of individual companies – and at the same time raise much-needed funds to enable it to expand its work on best practice and harmonising standards throughout Europe. ESTA Secretary Ton Klijn said: “ESTA’s workload is expanding fast, with major projects such as the European Crane Operator Licence and the SPMT Best Practice Guide.

“We want to continue expanding but to do that we need more resources – both financial and expert – and we hope this change will help us on that road.”

Applications to become an ESTA member should be made through the ESTA website. All applications will have to be approved by the ESTA Board of Directors.

Companies accepted will have the right to attend ESTA’s crane or transport section meetings, as appropriate; access to ESTA’s published technical information; the right to use the ESTA logo; and a free seat at the popular annual ESTA Users’ Night and Awards.

For further information, go to: www.estaeurope.eu

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