Spanning the globe and soaring to the skies, Sarens' fleet of over 1.500 cranes are deployed on some of the greatest heavy lifting and engineered transport projects of today: erecting a World Cup stadium in Qatar, performing load-ins and load-outs for a massive wind farm logistics operation in the Netherlands, moving terminal cranes in the United States, and expanding the Warsaw Metro in Poland. From nuclear sites in the most remote regions of the world to soaring cathedrals in vibrant city centers, Sarens' cranes are the strength behind major projects across the globe, always living up to the motto of "Nothing too heavy, nothing too high."
Managing this extensive portfolio of cranes across every region of the planet means that the Sarens Group has to be at the cutting edge of new crane technology while staying responsive to clients' needs and their own strategic vision.
Jan Sarens, who oversees crane purchasing for the Group, says that adding the right cranes to the fleet each year is an ongoing balancing act between these factors. Sarens is constantly evaluating which cranes to purchase, judiciously replacing older models while adding those that best complement client, market and portfolio needs. Here are the 3 major factors that go into every Sarens crane purchase:
#1. ENSURING THE RIGHT MIX OF EQUIPMENT ACROSS A GLOBAL PORTFOLIO
With a varied and rich portfolio of projects across the world, Sarens must maintain a fleet of cranes capable of rising to the challenge of any job that comes up. This means that every crane Sarens purchases has to fit into a larger strategic vision and balance out the Group's overall portfolio.
"Each year we look at the overall fleet as well as those cranes earmarked for replacement," Jan Sarens says. "It really comes down to having the right mix of cranes. Every type will have an advantage and a disadvantage, but we need the right balance in order to deliver the right service to our customers."
Crane purchases tend to reflect larger industry trends. "For example," Jan Sarens says, "We are replacing some of the older cranes with truck-mounted models. The advantage of these cranes is that they're mounted on a truck designed for high mileage and are relatively cost-effective to operate."
Sarens' approach in recent years has been to scale up overall crane capacity even as fleet size decreases. For example, because there is less demand for lower-capacity cranes today, the Group might phase out two 30- to 40-tonne units and purchase one 70- to 80-tonne unit to take their place.
"We're purchasing fewer cranes but making them higher capacity. We're investing less in the smaller range and more in the high-capacity range," Jan Sarens says.
Sarens primarily purchases brand-new cranes, although the Group occasionally opts for good secondhand deals. While it works with all major manufacturers, once Sarens has a crane of a certain type or capacity range in its fleet, it tends to stick to that model as much as possible to streamline operating efficiencies.
#2. ANTICIPATING AND RESPONDING TO EVOLVING CLIENT NEEDS
Continuous investment and equipment innovation is one of Sarens' hallmarks. While a robust fleet of cranes means that Sarens can deploy the right equipment wherever it's needed most, the Group often opts to invest in brand new cranes for specific client projects.
"When new projects come up, we have a large fleet worldwide that we can pull cranes from," says Jan Sarens. "However, we do that partly-not 100%-because we don't want to empty our business units for projects elsewhere. So when major projects come up, we use a healthy mix of existing equipment as well as new equipment."
New cranes are carefully chosen based on a client's needs, overall market trends, and how the crane will later fit into the overall fleet. However, providing just the right equipment for the client's needs is perhaps most important-and something Sarens has built its reputation on over the years.
For instance, Jan Sarens says that today's clients tend to prefer cranes with longer boom lengths because modern building projects are getting higher and higher. "With telescopic cranes, it's often a trade-off between capacity and boom length. Customers tend to prefer longer booms today, but if capacity really matters we can still put higher-capacity cranes out there."
Responding to client and market demands like these, Sarens recently made two major crane purchases. One was for a package of 44 Demag cranes ranging from 55 to 250 tonnes in capacity, and the other was for three new Liebherr LTM1450 cranes, which are especially easy to set up and operate. Additionally, the Group put in an order for 70-tonne Liebherr LTF-series truck-mounted cranes.
These newly-purchased cranes will be distributed across the UK, France, and Belgium, and many will be available at Sarens' two new crane depots in the UK. This will enable the Group to provide cost-effective, near-immediate crane services to clients both in London and at the Hinkley Point nuclear site.
#3. MAXIMIZING SAFETY WITH EVERY PURCHASE
The final factor that influences every single crane purchase Sarens makes issafety. Everything else about a crane can be absolutely perfect-but if the right safety features aren't there, it will never earn a place in the Sarens fleet.
"Safety is not optional," Jan Sarens says. He explains that while he and his team may discuss which customizations they prefer for each crane, safety features are never up for debate. "We don't discuss the safety options, because we automatically choose all of them," he says.
Each major manufacturer knows about Sarens' safety standards and automatically includes the "Sarens pack" in each crane purchase. "When we buy a new crane, by default, all the safety options are in there," says Jan Sarens.
These safety options include features like fall protection, which is especially important for lattice boom cranes and larger hydraulic cranes. "Another important option available on most new telescopic cranes from major manufacturers is the enhanced load movement indicator (LMI) system that monitors counterweight and outrigger positions," Jan Sarens says. "This system reduces human error-related risk when selecting the correct lifting program for the specific load case."
INVESTING IN A STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE
Sarens' careful attention to making the right crane purchase for the right project, as well as its absolute insistence on safety, has produced a fleet of cranes prized for their capacity to rise to any challenge-no matter how heavy, no matter how high. Continuous investment in the strength of its fleet over the years means that today, Sarens is widely considered a global leader and reference in crane rental services, heavy lifting, and engineered transport. It's not a reputation built overnight, but over time: that is, one crane purchase at a time.