Tag Archives: Johnson Crane Hire


The heavy lifting capacity of modern mobile cranes is revolutionising industrial project roll-out, with complete structures now being moved and lifted. Gaining full benefit from this trend, however, needs careful and early planning, warns Johnson Crane Hire national sales executive Peter Yaman.

“Taking advantage of today’s advanced lifting and moving technology needs a thorough assessment of lifting options, and this needs to be done as early in the project life cycle as possible,” says Yaman. “For this reason, Johnson Crane Hire offers customers our ‘upfront engineering’ service to fully explore which solution will be safest, quickest and most cost effective for the specific project.”

He notes that South Africa did not historically have much capacity to deal with abnormally wide, high or heavy items, and many of the country’s road routes were not conducive to transporting them.

“Our whole construction methodology was therefore aimed at much smaller components, which could be more easily transported, and then lifted by smaller cranes,” he says. “The downside, of course, is that the ‘stick-build’ required on site brought a range of risks and costs. Working at height is always hazardous, for example, and assembly on site generally takes much longer than in a purpose-designed manufacturing facility.”

Yaman notes that it is usually preferable to build an engineered structure or component in a factory environment where manufacturing conditions are more controlled. Here, there are better quality controls, and testing can be conducted before the item leaves the facility for site.

“This is generally a lower risk option than fabricating the item on site, especially where factors like adverse weather conditions, limited availability of specialised equipment and working at height can make the process more challenging,” he says.

Where customers are not fully aware of all the lifting and moving options available to them, they may make assumptions about the most practical route to take. The benefit of Johnson Crane Hire’s upfront engineering is to go beyond these assumptions to set out the alternatives now available, in the light of the project’s priorities.

“As the largest mobile crane hirer in South Africa, we have a wide range of crane sizes and types that each excel in their own applications,” he says. “We are therefore not limited in applying the most suitable technology to the customer’s specific project demands.”

Yaman highlights some of the alternative technologies that can be brought into play when project options are examined at an early stage. In a recent proposal, the company was able to apply jacking and sliding techniques to moving 3,000 tonne concrete units. The sheer weight and size of the units made normal lifting by large mobile cranes impractical but lent itself to the use of a jack-and-slide method to get the loads from the casting area to the location where they were to be installed.

“This was only one element of the solution, however, as gantry systems and strand jacking could then be considered for the lifting requirements of these structures during installation,” he says. “A key benefit of alternative systems like jack-and-slide or strand jacking is their modularity. This means their capacity can be cumulatively increased to match the demands of the items to be moved or lifted.”

The same applies to self-propelled modular trailers (SPMTs), where almost any combination of axle lines can be built into a trailer configuration to suit the load. This suits very long loads, allowing extra axles to be added to extend the trailer’s lifting stability and transporting capacity.

“At Johnson Crane Hire, we have strengthened our capacity to systematically conduct these upfront engineering studies – to safely and cost effectively move their loads from factory to foundation,” concludes Yaman.


The extensive footprint of Johnson Crane Hire across South Africa, and the establishment of large cranes at each branch, makes for fast and cost effective service to customers.

With the most extensive fleet of mobile cranes in the country, the company can make any size of crane quickly available, as each branch stocks a wide range. The branches now also stock Manitou telehandlers and access platforms – an added lifting solution for material and people.

“Our decision about three years ago to decentralise our big cranes – anything from 180 to 440 tonne capacity – to our branches, holds many benefits for customers,” says Cedric Froneman, sales executive – key accounts at Johnson Crane Hire. “The immediate advantage is that equipment is closer to site, saving transport time and cost.”

Froneman highlights that the company’s twelve branches, located in seven of the nine provinces, are also well equipped to support the cranes on hire.

“At each of our branches, we have a manager and technical representatives supported by mechanics,” he says. “Each branch also has a workshop to carry out repairs and services.”

Major repairs and rebuilds are conducted in the national workshop in Germiston, Johannesburg. This facility also gives each crane a major overhaul every five years, ensuring that they are in immaculate condition to optimise uptime on site.

“The extent and capacity of our footprint underpins our ‘SMART’ brand promise to the market,” he says. “First priority is ‘S’ for safety; we help customers apply high safety standards. This includes the rigging services offered at each branch, including CAD and lift studies for upfront planning and lift engineering.”

‘M’ is for the regular maintenance of equipment, while ‘A’ refers to being available wherever and whenever the customer requires. Finally, the ‘R’ is for reliability of both machines and people, and ‘T’ is for the total cost effectiveness of Johnson Crane Hire’s lifting solutions, says Froneman.

Each of the branches tends to have its own industrial focus, but new markets are always catered for. In Cape Town, for example, the large 440 tonne crane has ongoing work in unloading and ship refitment work at the harbour; however, there has been a growing need for heavy lifting of wind turbines in the renewable energy sector.

In Durban, where a 275 tonne unit is permanently established, much of its work is for the petrochemical plants. Inland, there is another 275 tonner established at Burgersfort, mainly for mine-related work which is also serviced by the branches at Trichardt, Middelburg and Rustenburg; all these operations also have fleets of large cranes as well. A smaller branch at Kathu services mainly the iron ore segment and a growing market in renewable energy.


Customers of Africa’s lifting leader Johnson Crane Hire were recently treated to an impressive display of a selection of the company’s lifting equipment at an open day where its heavy lift fleet was likened to the ‘big five’ of the wild.

“Johnson Crane Hire is a home grown South African business, and like the big five we are firmly rooted in Africa,” Peter Yaman, sales executive at Johnson Crane Hire, says. “Just as the big five have adapted to their natural environment, so have we succeeded in adapting to our economic environment, which is not always easy.”

Yaman describes the company’s LR 750-ton crawler crane as the elephant in the fleet: “This is a brute of a crane, with the ability to lift over 100 African elephants at once – with each of these great beasts weighing five tons or more.”

Next in line is the LR 600 crawler crane, displaying the toughness of a buffalo. He notes that the buffalo is also the ultimate herd animal, reflecting the company’s focus on teamwork to get every job successfully and safely accomplished.

“The rhino is the creature that comes to mind when talking about our powerful Kobelco 400 ton crawler crane,” he says, “as they share the attributes of ruggedness, durability and stability.” At the same time, he notes, heavy lifting also requires speed, precision and agility – qualities that make the LTM 750 ton hydraulic mobile crane comparable to the leopard.

Last but certainly not least is Johnson Crane Hire’s LG 750 ton lattice boom crane, which Yaman compares to the lion – king of the Jungle and a force of nature and leadership.

“Leadership in safety and in lifting is what we are passionate about, being driven to attain ‘SMART’ lifting – through safety, maintenance, availability, reliability and total cost effectiveness – as our brand promise,” he says. “Of course, we also have our zebras and impalas in the form of our 20 ton and 30 ton cranes, as well as our access platforms.”

Ranked amongst the top crane hire companies in the world, Johnson Crane Hire operates the largest mobile crane fleet in Africa, with strategically located operations to ensure quick delivery and ongoing support to customers. Outside of South Africa, it is actively engaged in several African countries including Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Zambia.


Extending its total lifting solution for customers, Johnson Crane Hire now offers an extensive fleet of access platforms and telescopic handlers from its branch network around South Africa.
According to Steve Robson of Johnson Crane Hire’s business development executive, the new units were put in place last year after the company concluded its supply agreement with a leading international OEM.

“Our expansion into the platform and telehandler business was primarily to enhance our offering to our many blue-chip customers, who over the years have tended to prefer working with one reliable partner for all their lifting and access requirements,” says Robson. “The synergy between these different types of equipment means that we can further assist customers in promoting productivity and safety on site.”

Johnson Crane Hire’s national footprint of 13 branches is therefore now equipped with its own access platforms and telehandlers, giving customers immediate access to them, and the branches continue to provide technical support as well.
The new fleet includes platforms with a working height from 12 to 28 metres and telehandlers with capacities from 2 ton to 9 ton.

Robson highlights that the new equipment has been very well received in a variety of sectors to date, from construction, mining and marine to petrochemical and power generation.
With the company’s long history in serving the construction sector, this new range of equipment is allowing it to see more of the ‘inside’ of big commercial or retail developments, rather than just the big cranage work on the outside.

“Shopfitters in shopping malls are part of this new customer base for us, as well as lighting and electrical installation contractors,” says Robson. “The added equipment range has also grown our opportunities in big warehouses, storage units and even in airports.
We have even found considerable demand from the entertainment sector, where South Africa is becoming an increasingly popular destination for film-shoots.”


Consistently increased demand for medium to large range mobile cranes has seen Johnson Crane Hire strengthen its position as the leading crane hire company by ensuring that these machines are readily available directly from its branch network.

Sales executive at Johnson Crane Hire, Peter Yaman says that the company proactively monitors crane usage at its 14 branches. “Our customer driven focus has always been to ensure that crane hire needs are met in the individual regions we service, and this is only possible by maintaining close relationships with existing customers and understanding the market demands.”

Yaman says analysis of the usage and demand statistics allows the company to plan ahead, and this has seen the company take delivery of one 250 t and two 140 t machines with two 100 t mobile cranes due for delivery mid-2018.
This level of planning facilitates the phased delivery of the new machines as well as the reallocation of cranes from the existing fleet to the Johnson Crane Hire branches that need them, thereby facilitating optimum availability.

“It is not unusual to reallocate various capacity mobile cranes to those branches that have shown increased demand, and by doing this we empower our team in those regions to offer an even more rapid response,” Yaman says. “It is all about having the appropriate mobile cranes available where and when the customer needs.”

Examples of the reallocation of machines within the current fleet are the moving of a 440 t unit to Cape Town last year, and more recently a 275 t machine to Durban and a 275 t to Burgersfort.

Commenting on the new machines acquired by the company, Yaman says the Liebherr LTM 1250 mobile crane is not new to the Johnson Crane Hire fleet, however unlike the existing six axle LTM 1250-6.1 machines in the fleet, the new 250 t unit is a five-axle machine making it more compact and lightweight.
This provides the manoeuvrability to operate in confined spaces where previously this was not possible.
In addition to this, the LTM 1250-5.1 is equipped with and driven by a single engine which drives both the carrier and the upper crane. This translates into a significant weight saving as well as a reduction in operation and maintenance requirements.

Johnson Crane Hire has an established reputation for the reliability and performance of its fleet, and Yaman says that safety underpins all Johnson Crane Hire operations, with comprehensively documented and implemented safety systems that comply with all industry safety standards in place.

“We have a focus on proper crane maintenance at all branches, and this supported by the national workshop in Johannesburg where we have comprehensive workshop facilities,” he says.