The building industry is currently undergoing a paradigm shift. The growing emphasis on sustainable practices in construction is resulting in a surge in demand for environmentally friendly and energy-efficient machinery. The adoption of sustainable practices in this sector places great focus on the implementation of electric and hybrid construction machinery. Mobile crane operations, crucial to the success of construction projects, are now under scrutiny for their environmental impact.

In this article we’ll explore the challenges faced by crane hire companies in going green and discuss strategies for improving sustainability, especially for those compelled to use diesel-powered cranes.

The Increasing Rollout of Sustainable Practices in the Construction Industry

Construction is a vital industry, providing essential structures and infrastructures and propelling economic development. It is also, however, an industry notorious for its negative environmental impact. Over recent years, social and legislative pressure for the reduction in carbon footprints has boosted the development of a great deal of technological innovations for this sector. These innovations, aimed at improving energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, are being adopted throughout the country at great pace, but also at a great expense.

The Implementation of Electric and Hybrid Construction Plant and Machinery in the UK

A significant stride in the pursuit of green values is the integration of electric and hybrid construction machinery. In the UK, where stringent environmental regulations are steering industries towards eco-friendly solutions, mobile crane operations are adapting to the change. Some electric and hybrid cranes are emerging as viable alternatives, offering reduced emissions, lower noise levels and enhanced energy efficiency. These innovations, although promising, still have some hurdles to overcome.

The Challenges Faced by Crane Hire Companies in Implementing Greener Practices

Despite the evident benefits, crane hire companies encounter multifaceted challenges when attempting to transition to more environmentally sustainable practices:

  • Availability of environmentally-friendly machinery: One primary hurdle is the sourcing of greener machines. While advancements in eco-friendly technologies are continually being made, the availability and affordability of energy efficient cranes with reduced environmental impact remain limited. Companies often face difficulties finding suitable alternatives that align with both their operational needs and their commitment to sustainability.
  • Expense: The initial costs associated with adopting greener technologies also present a substantial challenge. Investing in environmentally friendly cranes typically involves a higher upfront expense, and companies offering crane hire services must carefully evaluate the long-term financial implications against the immediate economic benefits. Striking a balance between the initial investment and the potential savings in operational costs over time is a critical consideration in the decision-making process.
  • Powering electric cranes: A notable challenge is the limited infrastructure for electric charging. The successful implementation of greener practices heavily relies on the availability of charging stations for electric-powered cranes. However, the current infrastructure may not be well-equipped to support the widespread adoption of these machines, creating logistical challenges for crane hire companies. Addressing this infrastructure gap is essential for the seamless integration of electric cranes into daily operations.
  • Personnel Training: Transitioning to greener practices requires educating and training the workforce to operate and maintain the new eco-friendly equipment. This process involves not only technical training on the features and functionalities of the green machines but also a broader understanding of the environmental benefits and safety protocols associated with their use. Investing in comprehensive training programs is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition and maximising the efficiency of the newly adopted practices.

Balancing economic considerations with environmental responsibility poses a delicate challenge for many in the industry. While the concept of “going green in construction” may seem challenging for heavy machinery operations, there are still impactful ways to contribute to sustainability within the realm of mobile crane hire. Overcoming these challenges requires a strategic and collaborative approach, involving industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies and technological innovators working together to create a more sustainable future for crane hire operations.

Implementing Sustainable Management Practices in Crane Hire

Despite the industry not yet being ready to transition to fully-electric fleets, there are a number of sustainable practices that can be rolled out to ensure that green principles are upheld throughout day to day operations. These include:

1. Efficient Fleet Management

One of the primary considerations for any crane hire service provider is to ensure an efficient fleet management system. Regular maintenance and timely upgrades can significantly improve the fuel efficiency of traditional diesel-powered cranes. By keeping equipment in optimal condition, the company can minimise fuel consumption and reduce emissions, contributing to a greener operation. Even when using fossil fuels, an energy-efficient crane is a step in the right direction.

2. Strategic Project Planning

Smart project planning can go a long way in minimising the environmental impact and costs of mobile crane operations. By optimising lift schedules and planning routes to avoid heavy traffic, companies can reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Additionally, strategic project planning can help minimise idle time, ensuring that the cranes are operational only when necessary.

3. Operator Training

Well-trained operators are more likely to use cranes efficiently, optimising fuel consumption and minimising environmental impact. Training programs can also include best practices for reducing idle time and proper equipment shutdown procedures.

Looking to the Future of Crane Hire

While electric cranes may not be in the immediate future for most crane hire companies given the costs and difficulties in sourcing the right machines, charging on remote sites and other logistical complexities, there are still plenty of opportunities to embrace environmentally-conscious practices. By focusing on professional fleet management, strategic project planning and well-trained operatives, companies like Total Lifting Services can ensure that jobs are done in the most efficient manner possible, resulting in lower emissions and reduced costs. For professional crane hire services throughout London and surrounding areas, contact Total Lifting Services today on 0208 226 4000. Alternatively, find out more about our contract lifting services here.