Mammoet Makes 295t Lift on Gulf Coast
Mammoet recently completed the installation of a main cryogenic heat exchanger at a US Gulf Coast liquefaction project. The company utilized both a Terex-Demag CC2800 and a Liebherr LR 1300sx for the dual crane lift. While the move went well, mother nature did not cooperate, with bad weather making it necessary to widen and smooth roads and redo the crane pads.
Once the liquefaction project is completed, the facility will be capable of exporting 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, making it one of the largest LNG export terminals in the United States.
Randall Fox, Mammoet USA senior project manager, said, “The combined efforts and hard work of all crews on site made this a safe and successful installation. The crews displayed an ‘adapt and overcome’ mentality to many obstacles to execute this operation in a truly professional fashion.”
Lift and Move USA Event in Houston
The 2nd Lift and Move even, held in Houston this time, was a huge successful with over 600 young people coming out to learn about the industry and job opportunities. IUOE Local 450 participated, along with many signatory contractors.
More Lift & Move info here.
STATEMENT BY US SECRETARY OF LABOR THOMAS E. PEREZ ON THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS’ 2015 UNION MEMBERSHIP REPORT
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement on the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report released today on union membership in 2015:
“With today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report, we are reminded again that the labor movement continues to be one of the most powerful forces for strengthening the middle class and providing economic stability, for members and non-members alike.
“Median weekly earnings of full-time union workers ($975) were more than 25 percent higher than those of non-union workers ($776) in 2015. That’s not pocket change – it comes to more than $10,000 per year. That goes a long way toward writing the mortgage check, paying down the car loan, or even just keeping the kids in snow boots. And, that doesn’t even account for the superior benefits, safer workplaces and other advantages that come with union representation.
“Plus, strong unions empower all working people, putting upward pressure on wages and labor standards throughout the economy. After all, you don’t need a union card to have benefitted from the advent of the weekend.
“So we all have skin in the game when unions are threatened and collective bargaining rights come under attack. When a larger percentage of workers belong to unions, the middle class grows and thrives. But research shows that a decline in union membership over roughly the last four decades is responsible for one-third of the growth in wage inequality among men and one-fifth of the growth in wage inequality among women.
“The Obama administration continues to push back against these attacks, exploring avenues for strengthening the right to organize and new strategies for giving workers greater voice on the job. We believe this essential to building an economy that works for everyone.
“We’ve made a dramatic turnaround in the last seven years – from a devastating recession to the highest levels of job growth since the late 1990s. But, there is still unfinished business. We must do more to ensure that all working families can share in the fruits of this recovery.
“When more workers are able to stand together and speak up for one another, negotiating for their fair share of the value they help create, it strengthens all of us. To restore balance to the economy and create shared prosperity, we need robust labor unions and powerful worker voice.”
Hey, it's not just us telling you to join a union...
It is well known that businesses, organizations, people, and politicians generally tell their audience their version of the facts, right?
- Joe’s Diner has the best hamburgers in the city!
- You should contribute to the Human Fund because we provide more money for people than anyone else!
- My economic plan is far better than my political opponent’s…just look at my fancy graphs!
So, it is understandable if you are skeptical of a labor union telling you the importance of joining…a labor union. However, it is not just us who promote union membership. Take a look at some of these studies and links. We assure you there are many more.
Please note, these are studies and opinions by leaders in economics, law, and other fields…many at the nation’s top universities. In other words, these are really smart folks.
Decline in Unions Weakens US Middle Class, Reduces Income Mobility between Generations: New Research Published by the National Bureau of Economic Research
“If there is a causal component to the strong correlations we have found, the natural implication is that the U.S. will find it harder to address the problem of the diminishing middle-income group than if trade unions were as strong and viable as they were 30, 40 or 50 years ago,” researchers Richard Freeman, Eunice Han, David Madland and Brendan V. Duke found. “A strong union movement is not simply sufficient for high levels of intergenerational mobility and middle-class membership, but it could be necessary.”
Also - “unionism is highly correlated with the well-being of all children in area, not just children of union parents”
More at the International Business Times.
The Cost of the Decline in Unions
Published in the New York Times, by Nicholas Kristof
“A study in the American Sociological Review, using the broadest methodology, estimates that the decline of unions may account for one-third of the rise of inequality among men.”
“Take construction workers. A full-time construction worker earns about $10,000 less per year now than in 1973, in today’s dollars, according to Rosenfeld. One reason is probably that the proportion who are unionized has fallen in that period from more than 40 percent to just 14 percent.”
I’ve also changed my mind because, in recent years, the worst abuses by far haven’t been in the union shop but in the corporate suite. One of the things you learn as a journalist is that when there’s no accountability, we humans are capable of tremendous avarice and venality. That’s true of union bosses — and of corporate tycoons. Unions, even flawed ones, can provide checks and balances for flawed corporations.”
More at the New York Times
Unions, Inequality, and the Faltering Middle Class Wages
Published by the Economic Policy Institute, written by Lawrence Mishel, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin.
- Those covered by a collective bargaining contract earn 13.6% more.
- Unionized workers are 28.2% more likely to be covered by an employer provided health insurance plan and 53.9% more likely to have an employer provided pension.
- There have been no improvements in real wages in the last decade. The divide between productivity and compensation has widened. Wage inequality has grown between those at the top and those in the middle. - Declining unionization has played a key role in these trends.
How Unions can Help Restore the Middle Class
Testimony before Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension. Dr. Paula B. Voos, Professor at Rutgers University.
- Raise the wages of the employees they represent.
- Increase the fringe benefits of those same employees.
- Increase pay of nonunion workers in occupations and industries with substantial union presence as nonunion employers move closer to union standards.
- Reduce income inequality in the wider society by reducing inequality not only within and between represented firms, but also across entire industries as nonunion employers increase compensation to discourage unionization.
- Reduce employee turnover.
- Increase the retention of skilled employees.
Do Workers still want Unions? More than Ever.
Published by the Economic Policy Institute, Richard Freeman, Harvard Law School.
- Workers today want greater say at their workplace as much or more than in the 1990s.
- Workers want unions more than ever before.
- Workers want a workplace-committee form of representation.
- Workers see management opposition as the major reason for their inability to obtain the workplace representation and participation that they seek.
- The gap between what workers want and obtain in representation is greater in the United States than in any other advanced English-speaking country.
Here’s why you’re working more for less
Published in Fortune by Christine Owens, Director of National Employment Law Project, J.D. From University of Virginia.
“As we approach the seventh Labor Day since the official end of the recession, workers in virtually all corners of the economy have seen the value of their paychecks shrink.”
“There are a number of other tangible steps we can take, but fittingly as we approach Labor Day, perhaps most important for workers across all ends of the economy is to restore their freedom to form unions and bargain collectively. Workers represented by unions, especially women and people of color, consistently earn more than non-union workers.”
“Ensuring that workers have a voice on the job not only improves their own wages and working conditions, it sets the stage for a strong and robust economy that’s good for all of America’s workers.”
More at Fortune.
Want to be Happy? Join a Union.
Published in the New York Times by John Guida, citing research from Professors Patrick Flavin at Baylor and Gregory Shufeldt at University of Arkansas.
“For those who belong to a union, membership seems to bring a benefit that perhaps surpasses better wages or generous health insurance: higher life satisfaction.
“Union members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction is large and rivals other common predictors of quality of life.”
“If our paper could give any advice to labor unions, it is hopefully that we can give new meaning to the adage, ‘don’t mourn, organize.’”
More at The New York Times
Oil Slump Affects some Crane Companies
Crane companies operating in the western North Dakota energy industry may be experiencing a downturn in business. According to an article from the Dickenson Press, at least a couple of local companies are reporting less business.
Neil Hecker from Borsheim Crane Services said that they had been affected “a little bit”. He claims that about 60% of their business comes from moving rigs, wells, pumping units and batteries in the oil field. Mr. Hecker said he thinks the oilfield downturn will get worse.
Likewise, Ernie Buckman of Midwest Crane Services said “You can feel the results of the oil prices.” Mr. Buckman said that his company is “probably 99% in the oil industry”. He added that before the large drop in oil prices over the last year, companies would come to them looking for service, now they have to go out and pursue the work.
An unidentified employee of ENTREC Cranes and Heavy Haul reported that they were previously doing about 85% oilfield work and that has dropped down to about 50%.
Today’s College Grads may work until 75
According to a recent report, retirement for today’s young people may come 10-15 years later than the current average. The study authors highlighted three main reasons for the anticipated delay in retirement.
First – Student Loans. The average college graduate comes out of school with an average of $35,000 in student loans. Over the course of a 50 year career (figure age 22-72), the payments made to satisfy that $35,000, instead invested could generate over $680,000 in extra retirement savings.
Second – High rent – Rental prices have increased 11% nationwide since 2012. Current college grads can expect to spend at least 30% of their take home pay on rent (not home ownership). In more popular cities, such as New York and San Francisco, it will obviously cost much more. With student loan payments (often for 10 years or more) and higher rent, there is less money to put in savings.
Third – Lack of faith in Investing – Millennials were likely just starting to pay attention to finances and the world when the 2008 financial collapse hit. They paid attention as the stock market and global economy ground to a halt. Thus, they are seemingly very skittish when it comes to putting money in to the very place that they saw wreck their parents 401Ks.
The study’s suggestions? Put 20% of your pay into savings and retirement…maybe move back home to live with parents…and invest more aggressively.
More info here and here.
Drilling in Texas down by half in 2015
In August of 2015, the Texas Railroad Commission issued about 66% fewer drilling permits than the same month in 2014 – 2,440 permits in August 2014, 864 in August 2015.
Baker Hughes had 906 rigs operating in the state in 2014, 366 now.
With fewer rigs, production has gone down as well, dropping each month since peaking in April. The Energy Information Administration reported that production in the Eagle Ford, the Bakken, the Utica, and the Niobrara have lost 350,000 barrels/day in production. Most of that decrease was in the Eagle Ford.
See more here.
Samson Resources Corp. Files Chapter 11
In 2011, shale-oil drilling company Samson Resources was bought out for $7.2 billion by a group of investors led by Private Equity firm KKR. The deal included $3.8 billion in debt being added for Samson Resources with the rest being put up in cash by the investors. One of the partners, the Japanese company Itochu Corp, bought 25% of the 2011 deal for $1.04 billion. They sold their stake in June of this year for $1.
Samson plans to use the bankruptcy to reduce its current $4.2 billion in debt. Silver Point LP, Cerberus Capital and Anschutz Investment Co have agreed to cancel the debt owed to them by Samson in exchange for ownership. However, other lenders, including Oaktree Capital, GSO Capital Partners, and Centerbridge Capital Partners are not part of the deal and their $2.25 billion in unsecured notes may be wiped out.
Samson has said it has as many as 10,000 creditors at this point and will keep operating during the bankruptcy.
Read more here.
Nearly 60% of US Approve of Unions
In 2009, 48% of the US approved of labor unions…that has grown to almost 60% in the latest Gallop poll.
Gallop first polled Americans on their view about organized labor in 1936, the year after the National Labor Relations Act. At that time 72% approved of unions. Support for union remained high through the 1960’s, but began to slide in the 70’s-90’s. Though at the end of the 1990’s it was back up to about 66% approval.
Likewise, the percentage of the US population that would like to see labor unions have more influence has risen from 25% to about 37%.
Support for unions is higher among women (63%) than for men (52%). Not surprisingly, support for unions is higher in the East, Midwest, and West than in the South. A positive sign for our future, young adults, aged 18-34 are the most supportive of any age group.
Though Americans are more supportive of unions, and an increasing percentage of the country would like for unions to have more influence, over half (53%) believe that unions will get weaker over time.
How often do we hear, "If the union was stronger in my area, I'd probably join." Workers should realize that they can get what they want and deserve if they will only stick together and start to grow unions themselves.
See more here.
Terex Merges with Konecranes
In a “merger of equals” deal, Terex and the Finnish Konecranes will become one company. While 60% of the new company will be owned by Terex shareholders, and 5/9 of the board of directors will come from Terex, the new company will be called Konecranes Terex and will be organized in Finland. It is expected to have about $10 billion in revenue.
The company will also maintain “significant headquarters” at both the Connecticut HQ for Terex and in Finland. The new company will employ about 32,000 workers.
Mr DeFeo, CEO of Terex, said, “This merger brings together two great businesses and through synergies provides another lever that is within our control to deliver value-creation to both the shareholders of Terex and Konecranes. We have a deep respect for Konecranes and look forward to joining forces with them to build a stronger and more diverse company that will be in an excellent position to succeed in a dynamic and highly competitive global industry.”
Mr Gustavson from Konecranes added, "The combination of Konecranes and Terex is a defining step in the history of both companies. With a focus on lifting and material handling solutions, Konecranes Terex will be in an excellent position to deliver enhanced growth in revenue and margins through several strategic advantages, including significant cross-selling opportunities. There is a common culture between the two organisations, with both companies having long histories of designing competitive and innovative solutions. Together, we will have the opportunity to expand what Konecranes and Terex have built and become even stronger in the future."
Cheniere Energy Looks to Expand LNG
It’s been reported that Cheniere Energy has given approval to construct up to seven more natural gas processing trains on the Gulf Coast by 2025. Cheniere is already building five such trains at their Sabine Pass LNG Liquefaction facility in Southwest Louisiana.
The additional seven would be built at a Corpus Christi facility as a well as a couple more at Sabine Pass.
Once completed, Cheniere will have an estimated annual export capacity of 60 million tons.
It is estimated that Sabine Pass is less than six months from having its first train operational. Once that happens, Sabine Pass will be ready to export the first US produced non-Alaskan LNG. Cheniere already has a 20-year agreement to export said gas to the BG Group.
Cheniere and the US are not alone in exporting LNG. Currently, Qatar produces the cheapest LNG and is the world’s largest LNG seaborne exporter, followed by Australia (expanding its capacity), Malaysia and Indonesia.
All countries are said to be targeting the Asian LNG market, which is expected to have a demand of 270 million tons in 2020 and 314 tons by 2025. Japan, South Korea, China, and India are the largest individual customers.
For more information see this article at The Australian.
New 500t from Liebherr
With a relatively small 45 ton component transport weight, low-cost worldwide transportation and compact dimensions were the main criteria for the design of Liebherr’s new 500t crawler. The new LR1500 was actually built using the same dimensions and component weights as a previous 400t model.
The turntable section weights 55t, it involves a removable frame component that lowers the weight to by 10t.
The crane utilizes a maximum of up to 550 foot of boom, with a 275 main and 275ft luffing jib.
It comes with 10t counterweight plates, which, in another possible cost saving feature, are the same as on the LR1400/2 and LR1600/2.
The LR1500 was unveiled at a customer event in Germany and will be manufactured at Liebherr’s Ehingen plant.
See more here.
The Right to a Safe Workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being hurt or killed on the job. It requires employers to ensure that workers are not exposed to known dangers.
Your rights under the OSH act include to:
Ask OSHA to inspect their workplace;
Use their rights under the law without retaliation and discrimination;
Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be in a language you can understand;
Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace;
Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses;
Get copies of their medical records;
Check out this workers’ rights booklet from OSHA for more info.
Overtime Eligibility may be Expanded
President Obama just announced a proposal to extend overtime pay requirements for an estimated 5 million workers. According to current law, salaried “managers” who make at least $23,660 per year are not required to be paid time and a half when they work over 40 hours per week. That threshold was set in 1975 (when $24K could purchase a bit more than it does today…). Under Obama’s proposal, the cutoff would be raised to $50,440. It is estimated that this could raise the wages of 70,000 Louisiana workers.
"We've got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded," Obama wrote. "That's how America should do business. In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay."
The big business lobbying organizations responded as expected and said that this would place an undue burden on employers who could be forced to cut hours or lay off workers.
Read more here.
How much does Being Non-union Cost you?
We’ll go ahead and state the facts again.
On average union workers earn 27% more than their non-union counterparts.
Unionized workers are 60% more likely to have employer provided pensions. Almost 80% of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance, compared to less than 50% of nonunion workers.
Some folks over at The Century Foundation recently put out a report with a handy graphic to show how much, on
average the cost NOT joining a union is.
Check it out here.
When Per Diem is Illegal
The US Department of Labor just announced the results of an investigation into Gulf Coast industrial staffing agencies that resulted in about $3.5 million in back wages for workers. The investigation and the resulting back pay are related to employers mislabeling wages as “per diem”, which can cheat workers out of money and benefits.
Federal investigators found that over 3,000 workers, including welders, pipe fitters and other craftspeople on oil and gas industry projects were owed back wages. Employers often prefer to pay per diem to avoid overtime, payroll taxes, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, social security payments, and other costs. This can mean a worker will not receive full benefits if he/she becomes injured on the job or laid off
The investigators are now actively monitoring staffing agencies and other employers on the Gulf Coast for this practice.
"Workers don't often complain about receiving per diem pay in place of regular wages because they believe they make more money being paid this way," said Wage and Hour Division Administrator David Weil. "The truth is these workers are losing out. They are not getting all of the short- and long-term benefits their employer owes them."
"Illegal per diem pay also hurts law-abiding employers, defrauds local, state and federal governments and cheats all of us who pay increased taxes as a result," Weil added. "Our division has dedicated the people and resources we need to stop this illegal pay practice on the Gulf Coast and throughout the nation."
The DOL noted that employers who use temporary staffing services may be liable if it is found that workers received illegal per diem payments.
For this settlement, the employers include: Masse Contracting, Permanent Workers, TREO Staffing, Flexicrew Staffing, Winston International and Government Support Services, INC.
See USDOL announcement.
TX Senate Approves $3 Billion for Campus Projects
Last month, the Texas State Senate approved a bit over $3 billion in revenue bonds to be used for construction and renovations on Texas college campuses around the state.
Senate Higher Ed. Committee Chairman Kel Seliger, said that this is the first new college projects approved by lawmakers since 2006.
“In a growing state with a priority for an educated workforce, the need for classroom, lab and other academic space is clear, “said Seliger.
There was some discussion and disagreement on the bond funding, with Senator Eltife proposing to use cash in the state treasury instead of issuing more bonds. Eltife said the bonds will cost the state over $1.5 billion in interest. Also, Senator Schwertner offered an amendment, later withdrawn, that would limit tuition increases at public universities.
Some of the expenditures already named include $49 million to renovate the college of law buildings, $73.8 million for construction of an interdisciplinary research building, and $70 million for construction and renovation of the college of visual arts at the University of North Texas Denton.
See more here.
Wind Farms Targeted for Theft
Thieves have reportedly hit under construction wind farms in Garland County, OK, stealing thousands of pounds of copper wire.
With more than 50 sites around the county, the thieves seem to be focusing more on the ones under construction, since stealing from active turbines is more difficult and dangerous.
In addition to copper, some generators have been stolen as well.
In response, deputies are increasing patrols around the county and ask that anyone who sees suspicious people or vehicles to call the sheriff’s office.
More at the local news source.
TNT Crane Purchases Colorado Based RMS
Rocky Mountain Structures (RMS) and its subsidiaries have been acquired by TNT Crane and Rigging. With three locations in Colorado, RMS is reportedly one of the largest crane and rigging companies in the Rocky Mountain region.
Founded in 1977, RMS has grown its fleet to include 66 cranes up to 500t. It serves the manufacturing, industrial, cell tower, power, commercial and construction markets. RMS has relationships with IUOE local unions.
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with TNT,” said Cody Gilliland, CEO, RMS. “The company is an industry leader with a proven successful track record not only for profitable growth but also for building a culture that puts its people first. This partnership enhances our ability to grow our business and creates opportunities for our employees. The economic outlook is solid for Colorado and the end markets we serve. In addition, the combined company will benefit from opportunities in the energy sector when oil prices and drilling activities return to sustainable levels.”
Mike Appling, CEO of TNT added that the acquisition expands TNT’s geographic footprint into the western U.S.
Kregg Lundsford, President of TNT, said, “There is no question their success is a direct result of our shared culture and belief that our people are our most important assets and with that we have a great responsibility to them.”
See more at KHL's American Crane and Transport.
Check out RMS at their website.
NCSG Acquires B&G Crane in Louisiana and Texas
B&G Crane, with yards in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Beaumont, and Houston, has recently been acquired by NCSG Crane and Heavy Haul Corporation and it investor group.
B&G Crane is a signatory contractor for IUOE Locals 406 and 450.
B&G was started in 1946 by the Grilletta family and has grown to consist of a fleet of over 150 cranes up to 825t capacity. They offer crane services, specialized rigging and heavy haul transportation in Texas and Louisiana. B&G’s management team will stay on to manage the day to day operations, with 3 members of the Grilletta family and Rich Haggard becoming shareholders in NCSG.
“B&G is a great business with a proud history of providing outstanding service to its many customers in Texas and Louisiana and the current B&G management team plans to continue to run the business and carry on with that tradition,” said Ted Redmond, NCSG president. “We believe that the combination of B&G and NCSG is a significantly more diversified business that will allow us to get better overall asset utilization as we can share our project and maintenance cranes across a more diverse set of end markets.”
Xavier Grilletta, Jr. B&G vice chairman, said, “I am proud of the business we have built and I believe that NCSG has similar values for building and running a customer focused business. We intend to continue our long history of safely providing outstanding customer service.”
NCSG Crane and Heavy Haul Corporation is a wholly owned US subsidiary of Canadian based NCSG. NCSG is owned by the private equity companies Triwest Capital Partners and NCA Partners, as well as the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund.
More information at KHL.
Cheniere to Decide on Corpus Christi Project
Cheniere Energy is expected to make a final decision on their proposed LNG Export terminal in Corpus Christi in the next few weeks.
VP of Origination for Cheniere International, Ramzi Mroueh, said that Cheniere has agreed on financing for the project and has sealed a $9.5 billion EP&C contract with Bechtel.
Cheniere is already building the first major LNG export facility in Sabine Pass, LA (Bechtel is also on this job). They are expected to make a decision on the construction of two additional production trains in Sabine Pass by the end of the year.
“The U.S. will be a major player in the LNG industry, it will have a profound change in how LNG is traded. We think there is more to come,” said Mroueh.
Watch Four Years of Drilling Gains Disappear
As reported in the current Hoisting News, there has been a fairly sharp drop in oil field drilling activity. To see the slowdown in an interactive graphic, click over to this story on Bloomberg.
As noted in the story, while rig counts are down and companies have started terminating agreements early, the remaining rigs are operating in the most productive regions. Thus, fewer new rigs is not equaling less production.
Bloomberg states that rig declines are likely to continue until the third quarter of this year.
There are other industry analysts who suggest that the slowdown is not and will not be as widespread as many have predicted…and may not affect the bottom line of the drilling companies as much as expected.
Tom Morgan, Analyst and Corporate Counsel for Drillinginfo: “No one in the industry is pretending that a lower oil price doesn't bite. Yet, technological progress over the last decade, especially in terms of horizontal drilling is reaping benefits when times are hard. Over the last three years, efficiency of shale explorers has increased by 25%; so in effect three years ago the profitability of $100 per barrel oil is the same profitability at $75 per barrel.”
More info over at Forbes.com
$54 Million Sold at Equipment Auction
Over 3,000 bidders attended the Casper, WY auction hosted by Richie Bros on March 25th where over 2,200 pieces of equipment were up for sale. The entire fleet of Energy Transportation, including 38 cranes, were put up with no reserves.
Some of the highlights of the auction include a 2010 Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1 that sold for a record $3.35 million (Richie Bros Auction record), a 600t Liebherr crawler that sold for $3.30 million, and a 450t Grove all-terrain that went for $2.73 million.
Over ¾ of the equipment sold went to bidders outside of the state of Wyoming and online bidders accounted for about 1/3 of the total.
Ravi Saligram, the CEO of Richie Bros, said, “Our extremely successful Casper auction, featuring high-quality cranes, trucks and trailers, is one of the largest underwritten complete dispersals the Company has ever done.”
See more over at KHL.com.
MLC650 Completes Load Test
Manitowoc’s MLC650 crawler crane has completed its required 650t test lift.
Dustin Sorens, marketing manager for crawler cranes with Manitowoc said, “The lift went very smoothly. It was a momentous occasion for everyone at Manitowoc that has worked so hard to make this crane a reality. A large group of engineers witnessed the test lift and were very pleased with how the crane performed under load. This crane also features the innovative Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) technology, which worked perfectly to position the counterweight for each of the load scenarios.”
While performing the lifts, hundreds of strain gauges are fitted to the crane to record the tension and compression of the steel components. The maximum load moment test has the crane hoist the load in a position to apply the maximum stress to the structure, such as over the corner of the crawler body.
See more about the MLC650 at Manitowoc's website.
More on the load test at Construction Week Online.
Huge Crane Auction in Wyoming
More than 750 pieces of equipment are being auctioned off in Casper, Wyoming tomorrow, March 24th. The equipment all belonged to Energy Transportation, a Wyoming based crane, rigging, and transportation company that was purchased by NCSG Crane and Heavy Haul earlier this year. The previous owner of Energy Transportation is selling off the equipment.
Richie Bros is handling the auction of the equipment. VP Rob Giroux from Richie Bros said, “This is the best selection of cranes we’ve ever sold. Energy Transportation is one of the most prestigious crane operations in North America, with one of the best fleets around. Cranes of this size and quality don’t come to auction often, especially not in this quantity."
Equipment in the auction include:
660t Liebherr crawler
500t Liebherr mobile
450t Grove all terrain
Two 440t Manitowocs
Eight Kenworth T800W
Two 85t 9-axle lowboys
DOL Report Confirms Importance of Unions
The US Department of Labor released their annual report on union membership last week.
US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez sums it up pretty accurately.
“Today's report confirms what we've always known: that belonging to a union makes a powerful difference in people's lives, providing greater economic security and helping them punch their ticket to the middle class.
"The 2014 BLS data show that among wage and salary workers, those in a union have median weekly earnings of $970, compared to $763 for those not in a union. That's not pocket change — it amounts to greater than $10,000 a year more for union members. There is also a smaller gender pay gap for unionized workers — women who are in a union come closer to parity with their male counterparts than do non-union women. The report also finds that the union membership rate was 11.1 percent last year, 35.7 percent for public-sector workers.
The economy is resurgent, with an unemployment rate well below 6 percent and job growth we haven't experienced since the late 1990's. The challenge we face now is creating shared prosperity, ensuring that our growing economy works for everyone. To do that, we need to turn up the volume on worker voice.
"There is a direct link throughout American history between the strength of the middle class and the vitality of the labor movement. It's not a coincidence. When unions are strong, working families thrive, with wages and productivity rising in tandem. But when the percentage of people represented by unions is low, there is downward pressure on wages and the middle class takes it on the chin.”
More at the US DOL.
Health Insurance Costs Paid by Workers
As pointed out this week by Jim Landers at the Dallas Morning News, Texas workers health insurance costs them more of their income out of pocket than almost every other state. On average, Texans spend 12.3 percent of their income on health insurance, second only to Florida at 12.4%.
The reason for Texas being at the bottom of the list is simple: employers in the state have shifted more of the cost of health insurance to workers in the last decade. This comes from employees contributing more towards the insurance cost and paying substantially higher deductibles. The article noted that in 2003, workers paid about 20% of their health insurance premiums and in 2013, they pay about 31%. In 2003, the average single Texas workers paid a deductible of $624, in 2013 it had more than doubled to $1,543.
Dallas Morning News Story
We all know that health care is expensive. But there has actually been a slowdown in the increase in premiums in the last several years. However, David Blumenthal of the Commonwealth Fund (the organization that actually did the study), pointed out that companies are pocketing the savings from slower growth in health care costs instead of passing it on to their workers.
For the Okies who are curious, their state came in towards the bottom of the list as well, at 11.7% of an average workers’ income going towards health insurance costs.
Though it is not pointed out in the article or the study, we would like to note that perhaps the low union density in the states has something to do with it. Seeing as workers under union contracts often contribute nothing out of their pay check to their health insurance premiums.
Go to the contact us page and give the local union in your area a call to learn about this benefit of union membership, and all the others.
You can read the Commonwealth Fund’s study here.
Cheniere Energy LNG News
Leading the way among those who wish to build LNG export terminals on the Gulf Coast, construction is well underway at Cheniere’s Sabine Pass facility. This week, it was announced that Cheniere has signed a $1 billion deal for General Electric to provide parts, inspections, maintenance services and around the clock technical support for the four LNG trains under construction. The contract is reportedly for at least 20 years. More here.
Cheniere is also planning to build an export terminal in Corpus Christi. Earlier this month it was announced that the biggest Wall Street banks will provide up to $11.5 billion in financing for that facility. Estimated to cost about $16 billion to construct, the project has already raised $2.5 billion in convertible notes. Read more here.
Local 14 Operator and Musician
Richie Vergona has been around cranes since he was old enough to walk and has been an Operating Engineer in New York for 40 years.
Vergona has also written about 200 songs, most of them he says, from the cab of a crane. He is well known around the city for riding to work on his Harley with his guitar slung over his shoulder.
Vergona grew up and currently lives across the Hudson from NYC. His father was also a crane operator and began teaching Vergona the trade when he was 15 years old. After playing football at Iowa State, he began working as a crane operator full time in his late 20’s. Before long, he was bringing his guitar to work with him and carrying it up into the cab of the crane.
He noted that he was initially surprised that no one objected. “I was working long hours and I didn’t have time to play music at home, so I just started bringing the guitar to the work site. It surprised me in the beginning that no one objected to it.” He added that safety is always his priority, that he only plays during breaks, and that he has never had an accident with a crane.
“There is a correlation between writing songs and being a crane operator. Operating a crane is an art,” Mr. Vergona said. “If you’ve ever seen ‘Star Wars,’ they talk about using the force, even though you’re using instruments and controls. In crane work, you have to use the force. One false move and you can kill 12 people.”
Construction sites, Vergona says, are his inspiration for a lot of his songs. He makes notes from conversations with other workers and occasionally has time to record bits of new songs with his cell phone. After working for several months at ground zero, he recorded “Salt of the Earth”. Co-workers always get a copy of each new CD. He records under the name Richard Lyon.
Read more on Richie Vergona at the New York Times.
SC&RA Requests Exemption for Heavy Haul Drivers The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has various rules related to how long commercial truck drivers can work in any given week or day. One of the requirements is that drivers take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of their shift. The Specialized Carriers and Riggers Association (SC&RA), an industry trade association with 1,300 member companies, has requested that drivers carrying permit loads be exempted from the requirement. The SC&RA said that due to the permit regulations in the various states, cities, and counties it is already difficult for oversize or overweight cargo to get where it needs to go in a timely manner. A mandatory 30 minute break time for drivers in the first 8 hours “just further complicates the situation.” The FMCSA responded to their request by granting a 30-day grace period for the rule, so that the public could comment on the issue.
The vice president of the SC&RA, Steven Todd, explains their position below.
“A 30 day public filing period commenced November 22 when the Federal Register officially published SC&RA’s filed exemption with the FMCSA regarding the 30 minute rest break requirement (Hours of Service Rule : 49 C.F.R. for carriers hauling oversize/overweight (OS/OW) loads under a permit,” said Steven Todd, vice president, SC&RA. “Because the hours in which an OS/OW load can travel are restricted by permit requirements, often times those hours will be in conflict with the timing of a required 30-minute rest break. The frequency with which specialized carriers and drivers have been forced to seek less than ideal roadway/shoulder parking has increased dramatically since the July 1, 2013 Hours of Service rules became effective.”
More information can be found here.
World’s Largest Crane Ship
48,000 tons. How’s that for lifting capacity? The world’s largest crane ship has recently left South Korea headed for Rotterdam, Netherlands. Built for the Swiss Company Allseas at a cost of close to $3 billion, the huge vessel is designed to lift offshore oil rigs. Allseas at a cost of close to $3 billion, the huge vessel is designed to lift offshore oil rigs.
While it is certainly the largest crane vessel ever built, it also is billed as the largest ship in the world, though that title is contested. It is 1,253 feet long, 407 feet wide, has a maximum speed of 14 knots and has accommodations for 571 people.
Not satisfied with this building achievement, the company is currently planning an even larger version of the ship, which would be a bit longer, somewhat wider, and have a lifting capacity of 77,000 tons.
See more on the BBC website.
Local 137 and the Left Coast Lifter
What do you do when you have a bridge project in New York that will require setting 1,200 feet long steel girders weighting 1,700 tons apiece? You get one of the largest floating cranes in the world and put Operating Engineers in the seat.
Operators Ron Burgess and Doug Cormey, along with a crew of mechanics and ironworkers will ensure that the mammoth Tappan Zee Bridge project gets done right. Burgess has been an operator for 30 years and calls this job the pinnacle of his career.
“You don’t want your head to get too big, especially what we do. It’s a very dangerous job and you always have to double and triple-check yourself when you’re doing something,” Burgess said.
Burgess is a third-generation operator and was able to give his father Ray a tour of the Left Coast Lifter earlier this year. Ron got his start in the industry working with his father in the mid 1980’s redecking the previous Tappan Zee Bridge. “He was excited, but he tried to contain it”, said Ron of his father’s reaction to the Left Coast Lifter.
While the crew has been training on the crane for several months, their official work is expected to start in mid-December when they set the first concrete tubs weighing 500-600 tons. See more information at the Poughkeepsie Journal.
The Marcellus Shale is located in parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. It is a leading area in the United States for the production of natural gas. Researchers with the Oil and Natural Gas Industry and from the University of Illinois recently reviewed six years of statistics related to work in the formation.
“A preliminary examination of employment data in states related to the Marcellus Shale play reveals that natural gas exploration has been a strong engine for growth," the study's authors wrote. "While employment in non-shale related oil and gas industries sharply declined from 2008 forward, employment activity on natural gas projects in the Marcellus Shale play rose significantly."
They found that over $5 billion was spent on construction and maintenance for oil and gas related projects in 2013 and an estimated $6.5 billion will be spent this year. Last year, that capital translated into 4,600 construction jobs in eight different trades. Shale related construction in 2013 turned in to more than $247 million being paid out to construction workers.
Between 2008 and 2014, an estimated 72 million work hours of direct and indirect oil and gas construction occurred. The study mainly focused on union job data, which was obtained from the North America’s Building Trades Unions.
Click here for more information on the North America Building Trades Unions.
More info on the study can be found here.
400th Manitowoc 2250 Built Fincantieri Marine Group’s Bay Shipbuilding division recently took delivery of the 400th 2250 built by Manitowoc. This is the 5th Manitowoc crawler currently in Bay Shipbuilding’s fleet (they are retiring one with 30 years of service later this year). “This is really exciting for us. It doesn’t matter if we’re taking delivery of the 40th or the 400th Manitowoc 2250, we are extremely pleased to add a quality-built asset like this crane to our business,” said Thomas Martin, director of purchasing and facilities at Bay Shipbuilding. “We are big fans of Manitowoc Cranes and the service that backs them. Even better is that we’re purchasing the crane from our neighbors in Wisconsin.”
See more at Construction Equipment's website.
United Rentals Joins S&P 500 The S&P 500 is a listing of the largest publicly traded companies in the United States. It is a market-value weighted index, based on market size, liquidity and industry grouping. Last week, equipment rental giant United Rentals made the list for the first time. Founded in 1997, United Rentals has 832 locations in 49 states and 10 Canadian Provinces. The company rents everything from pallet jacks to large excavators and forklifts. CEO Michael Kneeland - “Our inclusion in the S&P 500 is a testament to the strength of our growth strategy, the hard work of our employees, and the loyalty of our customers. We are proud that our commitment to value creation has placed us among some of the most respected companies in the world on the S&P 500."
Corporate Leaders Surveyed Two Harvard Business School (HBS) professors, Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin, released a report this week titled, “An Economy Doing Half Its Job”. They advocated for businesses to start improving the living standard for their workers.
We know what you are thinking. Eh, another Ivy League liberal college says that we need to redistribute wealth. This is the Harvard BUSINESS School. Undoubtedly one of the most conservative oriented, business friendly institutions in the world. In fact, over 3 times as many Fortune 500 CEOs have MBAs from Harvard Business School as the next leading college. Also, you might be thinking…Why is this important to me? I’m an equipment operator making more money than I ever have! As we’ve pointed out before, the current boom in the industry is not a permanent thing. A better way for you to get lasting higher wages and better benefits is through forming a union. Now on to the important information. They surveyed about 2,000 HBS alumni (40% of whom were CEOs, managing directors, founders, etc.) about the conditions at their own businesses and their opinions on the outlook for US companies. Their study found that while the economy is improving greatly for the most skilled in the workforce and corporate profits are at record levels, executives are pessimistic about increasing pay or improving the lives of American workers. They noted that we have a “troubling divergence” in the economy…one where most businesses are doing very well, but the middle and working class are not. • 27% of the survey respondents said that US workers would be earning higher wages in 3 years. • 40% said that workers would be earning less in three years. “Our alumni are optimistic about the prospects of firms and not nearly so optimistic about the prospect of higher wages and benefits. That’s not sustainable,” Rivkin said. “Unless workers are doing well, businesses won’t prosper.” “What we’re trying to do is highlight the fact that true competitive success in any economy and true prosperity means that both businesses and the aver worker benefit and gain,” Porter said. Their study results are also supported by the latest Federal Reserve’s Survey on Consumer Finances. It showed that on average US incomes have risen by 4% in the last three years…but most of that has been concentrated at the very highest earners. For the average family, income has dropped by 5% in the same time period.
See more at the Boston Globe article.
In the last few weeks, Barnhart Crane and Rigging and NCSG Crane and Heavy Haul have both acquired other companies. Barnhart purchased Omaha based Crane Rental and Rigging. With about 60 employees, over 40 cranes, branches in Omaha, Lincoln NE, and South Sioux City NE, and offices in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Ames, IA and Sioux Falls SD, Crane Rental and Rigging will extend Barnhart’s Midwest presence.
Alan Barnhart said, “Crane Rental and Rigging has a history of doing excellent work. This acquisition will allow customers to receive a broader range of services that should help lower overall project costs.”Barnhart currently has over 30 branches and is based in Memphis TN. See more on KHL's website.
NCSG Crane and Heavy Haul has just purchased Trucker Oilfield Hauling LTD. Trucker Oilfield Hauling is in the rigging, lifting and heavy haul business in western Canada. The current owners of Trucker Oilfield Hauling, Richard Trucker and Cory Crosby, will stay on with the company and become investors in NCSG. Crosby commented on the acquisition, “We are excited to be joining the NCSG team. With access to NCSG’s team of 700 employees and NCSG’s fleet of over 285 cranes, 235 lines of hydraulic platform trailers, 300 conventional trailers and specialized rigging services such as jack and slide and hydraulic gantries, Tucker will be able to take on larger projects/maintenance jobs and meet even more of our customer’ rigging, lifting and heavy haul needs.”
According to a recent report from the American Wind Energy Association, the first half of 2014 has seen a huge increase in new wind energy installations, when compared to the first half of 2013. They found that while in the first six months of 2013 only 1.6 MW was installed, about 835 MW went up so far this year. There have been 15 wind energy projects completed year to date in the US. Total capacity in the United States is close to 62,000 MW. Texas has a commanding lead with 12,753 MW, followed by California with 5,829, and Iowa, Illinois, Oregon and Oklahoma with lesser amounts. It should be noted though, that Oklahoma has also seen a surge in new developments recently. The AWEA said that 109 additional wind farm projects are currently underway, representing another 14.6 GW. Emily Williams, AWEA’s manager of industry data and analysis said, “The economic benefits of all these projects are significant. They include US manufacturing jobs, with many factories hiring new workers to meet demand, and all the local benefits from capital investment of billions of dollars in rural America.” Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, added “We can double American wind power by 2020, and double again by 2030, if congress gets the rules straight extending these critical tax policies as soon as possible, and continues to work on long-term policies that would provide a more predictable business environment.”See more from North America Wind Power.
Initial Ruling – Sany America Guilty of Patent Infringement The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has made an initial ruling that Sany America misappropriated Manitowoc trade secrets and infringed upon one of their patents. The commission hopes to make a final ruling on November 19th. The case involves John Lanning, a 24 year engineer for Manitowoc who left for Sany in 2010. Manitowoc alleged last year, and the ITC has initially agreed, that the 550 ton SCC8500 used the same technology as the Variable Position Counterweight system on the Manitowoc 31000 (Sany called it the Auto Counterbalance Equalization). Manitowoc alleges that Sany acquired this technology through Lansing.
If they side with Manitowoc in the final ruling, the company is seeking a ban on the import or sale of the Sany SCC8500.
What are your Priorities?
The IUOE offers contract-guaranteed great wages, a defined benefit pension plan, employer paid-for health insurance, and free training and certifications that set the standard industry wide. Your value as an employee will be based on your skill and work ethic.
Sorry, but the IUOE does not currently offer a sponsored volleyball team...just a solid, stable career. If you prefer to spend your own time with your family and personal interests, and maintaining your personal and professional integrity as a crane operator or rigger, contact the IUOE.
Can a Union be both good for you AND beneficial to your Employer? Labor unions are known for what they can do for their members. When workers organize together into a union, they bargain collectively with their employer and usually get higher wages, better benefits, and more of a voice at work. Fighting for their members is the primary focus of any good union. However, there is a common misconception that unions are always bad for business and industries. That is simply not true. So, can forming a union be good for you…and your employer? Yes, absolutely. We’re going to explain it right here (and debunk another common myth too…).
If we unionize, it will bankrupt the company, will cause layoffs, and ruin the local economy…Look at Detroit!!! In a nutshell, unions are bad for companies!
That opinion is what big business and billionaires want you think. They spend a ton of money on consultants and lobbyists to make sure that they have the most effective message possible to convince you of that. We’d be happy to argue the facts on what has caused the problems in Detroit, but that would not be productive…and it is not in any way relevant to crane operators in Texas, Louisiana or Oklahoma. Think about this for a minute. If the IUOE was bad for companies…would 14 out of the top 15 crane companies in North America have longstanding relationships with us? Even TNT Crane, the largest non-union company on the ACT100 list, realized the benefit of being union recently on a job in Wisconsin. Furthermore, our union has been around for well over 100 years. If we routinely ran companies out of business, do you think we’d have lasted this long?
So, how can the IUOE actually help your employer?
Some of the biggest costs incurred by companies are related to the hiring, retaining, and training of their employees. When a company needs to hire a new employee, they have to place ads, pay someone to review applications, pay someone to contact applicants, and pay someone to conduct one or more interviews…usually with multiple candidates. That is a major expense. Next, especially in our industry, they have to provide training for the newly hired employee. NCCCO certifications, forklift training, OSHA training, etc. This means hiring multiple trainers, days or weeks spent developing curriculums, and the constant monitoring of changes in NCCCO or OSHA regulations. And then, how many thousands of hours of training does it take to make a person a competent and safe crane operator?
So let’s say that the company hired their new employees and they are all staffed up for their current workload…but then there is a temporary slowdown in work. The company can do two things: lay off the workers they can’t keep busy (and hope that they are still unemployed when they are needed again), or waste company resources by keeping these employees paid and happy until the work picks back up. Each employee laid off and not rehired will probably mean another round of advertising, interviewing, and training. With the constant ups and downs in demand of the crane rental market, it can be a never ending expense.
Or…the company could simply call the local IUOE union hall and tell them how many operators they need. The hall would check the list to see which trained operators can be dispatched to fill those seats. When the work temporarily slows for the company, they now have a new option. Just send the operators back to the hall. To put it simply…in the ever changing market of crane rental, by being union, a company gains the flexibility to have highly skilled and trained operators when they need them. The money they would be spending on hiring, retaining workers, and training can be better spent on buying new equipment, opening new branches, and growing their businesses. That model certainly seems to have worked for the largest crane companies in the world.
I’d like to join the union, but the union can’t keep me busy.
Just as being union provides more flexibility for companies…it does the same thing for you. You currently have one employer. Let’s think about the same situation above. What happens when your employer has a slowdown in work…or what happens simply when the current job is over? Many operators are simply out looking for the next seat.
They probably call around to people they used to work with, check the employment ads, look at online job boards and Facebook groups, hoping to be the first one to respond to an open seat. Obviously, one would also be concerned about their health insurance. If they change companies, how long do they have to wait for the insurance to kick in? What about their 401K plan balance…can they move that to another company? Should they just cash it out (AGAIN!!!)?
Now imagine you are a union crane operator whose current job just ended. Your local already has contracts with many crane companies (and is constantly adding more)…if one of them is looking for an operator with skills that you possess, then you might just transition in to the new seat. Seeing as your health insurance and pension is tied to your union, as long as you go to work for a different signatory contractor, they will seamlessly follow you.
What if your particular local does not have an open seat for you with any of the signatory contractors? The IUOE as a whole has relationships with tens of thousands of companies around the US and Canada. As a member, you may be able to travel to any state which currently needs crane operators.
Which do you think would be more effective…you looking at Facebook for a job, or your local union simply saying, “Hey, Local 000 is looking for 5 operators for a 60 day job, you want it?”
We can’t speak for every union or for every relationship that employers have with unions, but the IUOE can provide real benefits for you, your employer, and our industry as a whole.
30,000 Liebherr Mobile Cranes
It was reported last week that Liebherr has delivered its 30,000th mobile crane. The 500t LTM 1500-8.1 crane went to Grupo DPH in Mexico. This also marked the 450th of this particular model for Liebherr.
The owner of Grupo said, “Liebherr cranes have always had a good reputation and since Liebherr has had its own location here in Mexico, I know that I can rely on the company's excellent after-sales service for my machines. That is why I decided on Liebherr.”
The 30,000th crane will be used to load wind turbine generators at Grupo’s warehouse.
Do you use your 401K as a Piggy Bank?
Prior to 2008, people often borrowed against their house (home equity) when they needed some cash. However, after the housing mortgage debacle, many people are increasingly turning to taking money out of their 401K account. Bloomberg reported that in 2011, Americans took out $57 billion from their retirement accounts before reaching the age of 59 1/2 and Fidelity noted that young workers, aged 20-39 have the highest withdrawal rates.
Often this occurs when a worker leaves his current job for another. Instead of “rolling over” their 401K balance to a new plan, they withdraw it in cash. There are a couple of main issues with taking cash out of your 401K plan. First off, you pay taxes (and sometimes penalties) on that money. Secondly…that money is supposed to be for your retirement, right? If you cash out your 401K once when you are 20, maybe that’s not a big deal. But what if you do it again when you change employers at 25, at 31, and at 36? The next thing you know, you’re approaching 40 with no money saved for retirement. That’s not a situation most people want.
See more here.
100,000 CCO Certified Crane Operators
The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators has announced that last month they passed the 100,000 mark for certified operators. Started in April, 1996, the program has actually issued more than 240,000 certifications (including rigging, signal person, crane inspector).
From former NCCCO President, Carson Huneycutt, “The original industry leaders whose dream provided the basis for CCO certification a quarter of a century ago had high hopes for its success, but I doubt if anyone back in the early 1990s, when we took the first hesitant steps to build a national skills and knowledge assessment system in this country, dared hope this program might have such a profound impact on crane safety that is so clearly reflected in the achievement of this milestone.”
The majority people have completed the mobile crane certifications, but numbers are growing in the tower and overhead crane categories. Additionally, over 10,000 signal persons and close to 7,000 CCO-certified riggers have gone through the system.
Solar Energy in Texas Texas currently ranks near the bottom of the list in solar energy generation per capita, but that might change as companies are considering the development of large scale solar farms.
“We have a large land portfolio in Texas. … For the last couple years we’ve had teams driving around, knocking on doors to option land until we’re ready to build,” said Arno Harris, CEO of San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy. “Texas is a large market. And it’s a growing market. … It’s really just economics. The solar industry has driven prices down to where solar can compete.” The company plans to build a 150-megawatt solar farm in west Texas and they’ve already signed a 20-year deal with Austin Energy to purchase the electricity. Recurrent Energy isn’t the only company interested. According to the director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, developers have made applications for close to 2,000 megawatts worth of solar farms. There are several factors leading to the solar expansion in Texas. The availability of relatively cheap land in Texas is part of the reason, but also the recent environmental mandates from Austin and San Antonio’s city owned utilities are driving the demand. And the cost of solar generated electricity has gone down considerably in the last couple of years – between 60-80% actually. Some of the infrastructure needed to move the proposed solar power to population centers already exists. Last year, $7 billion worth of high voltage transmission lines were completed from west Texas. The project, known as the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, was put in place to take electricity from the wind farms, but since most wind energy is generated at night and solar energy is obviously produced during the day, the transmission lines could manage the double duty.
Largest Crane Vessel
The Dutch company Heerema, is currently building the world’s largest crane vessel. Over 650 feet long and almost 330 feet wide, the new semi-submersible crane vessel will feature two huge cranes built by Huisman.
Each crane will be capable of lifting 10,000 tons at about 150 feet. They will have close to 450 feet of boom apiece. Unlike similarly designed vessel cranes, Huisman is using large bearings instead of bogies or wheels to slew the crane. More here.
Terex Uses Comic Strip to Showcase Cranes
Terex Cranes has released a 46 page comic strip on their website that provides details about their line of cranes. Titled “Discover the World of Terex Cranes”, a comic strip character takes us through Terex’s pick and carry cranes, city cranes, crawlers, tower cranes, rough and all-terrain cranes, boom trucks, and truck cranes. They show off everything from the AT20 to the CC8800.
Several comic slides show common tasks that each crane might perform. For instance, they show their AC 40 City Crane squeezing through a door into a shop building and installing an overhead crane. In another, they highlight the CC 8800-1 twin boom building an offshore platform in Abu Dhabi.
The finished product is pretty cool – definitely an inventive way to show off their products.
Take a look on the Terex website.
Building Trades Affiliated Union Training Centers
Interested in a career in the building trades? Check out the North America Building Trades Unions' interactive training center map application. You can zoom into the area of the country that you are interested in and see which affiliated unions have training sites nearby. As you can see from the screenshot below...there are quite a few. Click here to be linked to the website.
Another Potential LNG Export Terminal
Gulf LNG Liquefaction Co. has received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin its pre-filing review process. Gulf LNG Energy owns the existing LNG storage facility in Pascagoula, MS. It and Gulf LNG Liquefaction Co are both wholly owned subsidiaries of GULF LNG Holding Group…of which 50% is owned by Southern Gulf LNG…which is wholly owned by Kinder Morgan.
Kinder Morgan has filed a request to the Department of Energy to export natural gas to non-free trade countries.
If the regulatory hurdles are passed and construction begins, it would bring an $8 billion investment to the existing Pascagoula facility. They plan on building a natural gas processing, liquefaction (consisting of two trains), and export facility on a 33 acre site on Bayou Casotte. It would have the total capacity of about 10 million tons per year. While the two trains would be the bulk of the cost, the project would require additional pumps, piping modifications, valves and control systems.
Currently, their timeline is to start construction in summer 2016 and have the first train operation by late 2019.
More info here.
World Crane and Transport Summit 2014
Several speakers have been announced for the upcoming World Crane and Transport Summit in Miami this November. The keynote speaker will be Alan Barnhart of Barnhart Crane and Rigging. Mr. Barnhart is also the current president of the SC&RA.
Other speakers include representatives from Fagioli, NCSG, Bragg, Bechtel, Becht Engineering, ALE, the NCCCO, and Haag Engineering.
The event will take place at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami on November 12th and 13th. The conference will cover aspects of lifting and transport in the oil and gas industry, training and safety, and some project reports.
The event’s official partner is the SC&RA and event sponsors include Terex, Manitowoc, and others.
More info here.
Tower Cranes for Wind Turbines?
Around the United States, large crawlers and truck cranes are used to erect wind turbines. However, as turbine weights and heights are increasing, some folks are turning to specially designed equipment. Basically, the larger units, placed at a higher altitude, are capable of producing more energy.
In China and Japan, for instance, custom mobile tower cranes are being used.
For an in-depth examination of the issue, click over to this article at KHL.
No Wind Turbine Moratorium in Oklahoma
A bill that sought to prohibit wind turbine construction east of I35 in Oklahoma for the next three years has died in the House. Senate Bill 1440 was proposed by Republicans Brian Bingman and Earl Sears passed by a vote of 32-8 in the Oklahoma Senate. The House, however, chose not to take up the issue this session.
Rick Mosier, a member of the Oklahoma Property Rights Association, said that the proposed moratorium was meant to provide adequate time for officials to come up with regulations regarding the development of land as wind farms. Founder of the Association, Frank Robson, initially became concerned when his neighbor wanted to install turbines. He felt that the development would harm wildlife and reduce his property’s value. Robson said, “I think property rights are fine as long as what you do doesn’t harm your neighbor.”
On the other side of the table, the Wind Coalition (a regional trade group) opposed the regulation. Lobbyist Curt Roggow said, “It would have brought several projects to a halt. There were not just one but several companies that were in the middle of development stages. It would have halted those projects, which means less revenue coming into the state as far as economic development.”
Proponents of wind turbine regulation said they anticipate a bill in the next session to address the issue.
According to the Wind Energy Association, Oklahoma currently ranks 4th in the nation for the amount of electricity generated by wind energy. About 10.8 million megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power 1 million homes, was generated in OK in 2013.
63,000 Structurally Compromised US Bridges
How often do you think you drive across a bridge that has been rated as “structurally deficient” by the Federal Highway Administration? Well, about 250,000,000 vehicles pass over bridges with that designation every day.
That stat is from a recent analysis by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association…and they say the situation might get worse. Alison Black, chief economist for the group says, “Without congressional action, there will not be any federal support for any new road or bridge projects in any state in fiscal year 2015, which starts Oct 1.”
The funds for road and bridge construction often come from the Highway Trust Fund, which is funded by the per-gallon gasoline tax. However, while the costs of construction have gone up and the US population has increased from about 250 million in 1990 to about 317 million today, the gasoline tax rate has remained unchanged since 1993. This has contributed to a recent deficit in road/bridge building funds of about $20 billion a year.
It is important to note that a “structurally deficient” bridge is not necessarily unsafe to drive over. According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, bridges with these designations may require significant maintenance and repair to remain open, and they may have weight limits implemented to ensure safety.
See more information on bridge deficiency from USA Today.
Click here to see how your state’s bridges are rated (from the Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Inventory).
Want so look up a specific bridge? Try www.uglybridges.com. We make no guarantees about this information – the website states that their data comes from the same source as above.
Guinness World Record for ALE
Last month, heavy lift and transport specialist ALE was awarded a Guinness World Record for the heaviest load moved by self-propelled modular transporter. The item transported was a 13,191.98 ton PUQ offshore platform.
The platform was constructed by Lamprell and the move took place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). ALE required 512 axels of self-propelled modular transporters to move the platform about 883 meters. It took about 4 hours to make the move.
The platform is now destined for the Golden Eagle Area Development in the North Sea.
From Richard Peckover, ALE Executive Director for the Middle East and Africa – “We’re proud to have worked with Lamprell on this landmark project. The industry is continuing to see an increase in the size and weight of offshore structures and it’s great to see ALE’s capabilities have enabled yet another record to be broken. Everyone involved worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the project and the teamwork between us and Lamprell has accumulated in the achievement of this award.”
Magnolia LNG Enters Agreement with SKEC Group
One of the LNG export facilities proposed for Southwest Louisiana, the Magnolia LNG project, has signed a technical services agreement with SK E&C USA Inc. Magnolia LNG is a subsidiary of Liquefied Natural Gas Company LTD and SK E&C USA Inc. is a subsidiary of SK Engineering and Construction Co. LTD.
The agreement relates to the engineering, procurement and construction work being done for the project near the port of Lake Charles, LA. The SKEC Group will assist Magnolia LNG with front end engineering design (FEED), with the final resource reports the project must submit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and will provide a detailed lump sum turnkey cost by November 28th, 2014 (among other tasks). Click over to this article on www.lngindustry.com for more information.
The Magnolia LNG project is being designed to export up to 8 million tonne per annum of liquefied natural gas. The project is expected to cost about $3.5 billion and will create 65-70 direct jobs and 175 indirect jobs. About 1,000 workers will be needed for construction. Currently they are hoping to start construction in mid-2015 and are hoping to start operations in mid-2018. Click here to see Magnolia LNG’s project flyer for more information.
As mentioned Magnolia LNG is a subsidiary of Liquefied Natural Gas Company, LTD, which is an Australian based, publicly traded company. SK Engineering and Construction is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea.
Corpus Christi Port Expansion
Frank Brogan, Managing Director for the Port Authority of Corpus Christi has seen a major turnaround at the facility in the last couple of years. “It’s a historic time right now for our port. I’ve been here 27 years, and we’ve had more activity in the last two years than in the previous 25 combined.”
The catalyst for the change, like for so many other recent developments in the US, has been the massive boom in oil production. For Corpus Christi, that oil primarily comes from the Eagle Ford Shale development.
NuStar Energy LP. just opened its 3rd petroleum dock at the Corpus Christi port. NuStar has storage for about 1.6 million barrels of crude oil at the facility, and with their third dock now finished, they can load about 30,000 barrels per hour onto outgoing ships. All of this is fed by the company’s two existing pipelines connected to the Eagle Ford.
To get an idea of the increase in crude oil going out of the Port of Corpus Christi, consider this: in the first months of 2012, they were sending out about 10,000 barrels a day. By the end of2013 theywere averaging over 350,000. While Corpus Christi has three area refineries, two of them are designed to process thick, high-sulfur crude oil and only one is currently set up to process the light sweet crude that comes from the Eagle Ford. About 80% of the crude oil being loaded on to the tankers is destined for other refineries along the Gulf Coast, with the rest going to the east coast of the US and Canada.
The increase in full ships going out has caused a few complications for the ports infrastructure. Previously, oil tankers were leaving the port empty, and they could pass an incoming ship without difficulty. However, the ship channel is simply not wide or deep enough to allow two full ships to pass each other. The port is seeking funding to widen and deepen the channel. Also, with the increased ship traffic, the port has limited pilots to running during daylight hours only.
According to Authority Director Brogan, about $22 billion in further construction is planned at the port. Cheniere Energy, Magellan Midstream Partners, Castleton Commodities International, and Valero all have major projects either under construction or planned. The price of land around the port is up to $300,000 per acre. He says the port currently employees about 7,000 people, and another 5,000-10,000 are doing construction work on new projects. Brogan said, “It’s a challenge for employers to find good-quality people. There’s no shortage of jobs.”
Magellan Midstream Partners to Move more Texas Crude
During 2014 and 2015, Magellan has stated it plans to spend about $950 million on projects, 80% of which will be used in Texas to build additional infrastructure needed to move crude oil from the Eagle Ford and Permian shale plays to refineries. They have already expanded their existing crude oil pipeline, which now spans about 1,100 miles.
Part of the new spending will be a $250 million condensate splitter at Magellan’s Corpus Christi terminal.
CEO Mike Mears said, “We really are going through a transformation in terms of where the growth is coming from for Magellan.”
Currently Magellan operates a 9,600 mile system of pipelines that carry products from the Gulf Coast refineries to other areas of the country. According to Magellan's website, they can tap into about 50% of the United States' refining capacity and can store more than 90 million barrels of petroleum products.
Oklahoma and Texas Wind Energy Records
According to the American Wind Energy Association, more energy was generated on March 18th in Oklahoma by wind power than on any previous day (7,200 megawatts). Additionally, on March 26th, Texas set a record with 10,300 megawatts from wind generation.
The association said that new transmissions lines and infrastructure, along with new projects paved the way for the record setting generation. Senior analyst for the association, Michael Goggin, said, “It may have taken a few years, but in many parts of the country, the grid is finally catching up with wind energy’s rapid growth. These recent wind energy records, and the tens of billions of dollars of new wind energy investment in the pipeline, are a product of those transmission successes.”
In Texas, the new “Competitive Renewable Energy Zone”
has recently been completed. The CREZ is a system of high voltage transmission lines built to connect the panhandle wind farms to the more populated areas of the state.
Jeff Clark, director for trade group, The Wind Coalition, said, “Texas has made visionary investments in its electricity infrastructure. These investments are paying off for Texas consumers as record levels of inexpensive wind power is lowering bills with power that is truly, “Made in Texas.””
Check out the story on NewsOK.com for more information, and to see a map showing the various wind markets in the country and their output records.
The large increase in wind farms over the last decade is no surprise to those who work in the crane industry. With the assistance of government subsidies, companies have put up thousands of turbines all over the country (except the Southeast). According to a recent report from the Energy Information Administration, wind power will increase by about 8.3% in 2014 and about 17.9 percent by the end of 2015. This will bring the total production to about 77GW, which is about 4.6% of all electric generation.
The US Department of Energy has recently releaseda new interactive mapthat shows year-by-year where wind farms have been constructed since the first one in Southern California in the 1970’s. Click on the start button on the lower right side of the map.
More information at theEIA website.
The large increase in wind farms over the last decade is no surprise to those who work in the crane industry. With the assistance of government subsidies, companies have put up thousands of turbines all over the country (except the Southeast). According to a recent report from the Energy Information Administration, wind power will increase by about 8.3% in 2014 and about 17.9 percent by the end of 2015. This will bring the total production to about 77GW, which is about 4.6% of all electric generation.
The US Department of Energy has recently released a new interactive map that shows year-by-year where wind farms have been constructed since the first one in Southern California in the 1970’s. Click on the start button on the lower right side of the map.
More information at the EIA website.
The Man in the Crane
Check out this cool video about the tower crane operator working on new buildings at the University of Connecticut Health campus. Wayne Miller has been working around cranes since he was 15 years old...and he can't imagine doing anything else! More info here.
The Tower Cranes of San Francisco
About three months ago, Max Kirchoff started noticing the tower cranes around San Francisco. Not that the cranes were a new thing to the city...just that he actually started paying attention to them.
So, for the last few months, he engaged in the activity of "crane-spotting". Whenever Kirchoff saw a new one, he snapped a few photographs. If someone mentioned having seen one, he inquired about the location.
He got some nice shots - a few have been posted on The Bold Italic, an online magazine about San Francisco.
The article itself is a bit...Zen and the Art of the Tower Crane.
The 2014 ConExpo wrapped up last week in Las Vegas. Close to 130,000 people attended the show to see the latest and greatest in construction equipment. There were 2,400 exhibitors showcasing a wide range of new products, from cranes and earth-moving machines to road building and mining equipment. New technology also played a large role this year, with drones being used to take aerial photographs of the huge cranes on display. Some miscellaneous highlights from the show:
Several crane companies announced large equipment acquisitions. Just a couple of examples:
There was an abundance of new products on display.
750t Liebherr for Northwest Crane Service
Oklahoma’s Northwest Crane Service took delivery of the first LTM 1750-9.1 in North America towards the end of December.
The truck crane was immediately put to use on wind turbine maintenance projects. With the Y-Guy system out, the machine has a maximum lifting height of just over 500 feet. The carrier has 9 axels and can travel at speeds up to 50 mph.
From Northwest’s Andy Hodges – “This machine has the capability to complete projects that previously would have required a crawler crane. Crawler cranes are still an important part of our fleet, but to have a telescopic crane on rubber tires with such lifting capabilities adds a whole new aspect to what we can offer our customers."
More at KHL.com
Oil Patch Safety
The Houston Chronicle has recently posted a report about fatalities and injuries that are occurring in the Texas oil fields. They state that 65 oil and gas workers died on the job in Texas in 2012 alone. This was the highest number in a decade and more than 60% higher than the previous year.
Between 2008 and 2013, they report that at least 18,000 work related injuries and illnesses were reported. Few of the non-fatal accidents were investigated by OSHA.
Houston Company seeks to build floating LNG Export Facility
Excelerate Energy has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build and operate a LNG export facility in Lavaca Bay. It would consist of a permanently moored vessel in the bay with multiple connections to pipelines on shore.
The company said it seeks to be the first floating LNG export facility in the US. Excelerate filed an application with the Department of Energy to export LNG to non-free trade countries in October 2012. It is still pending.
See more at Fuelfix.com.
Sixth LNG Export Terminal Approved by DOE
Last week, Sempra Energy’s Cameron Louisiana LNG Export project was given approval by the Department of Energy. The project is actually to convert the existing facility from importing to exporting LNG. Sempra will spend approximately $6-7 billion to make the overhaul.
DOE approval is needed to export the LNG – and that approval comes in two forms: exporting to “free-trade agreement” countries and exporting to “non-free trade agreement” countries. The facility is now approved for both. Sempra has a 20 year deal to sell gas to a Japanese company (Japan is not a FTA country).
Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said, “It waited more than two years for DOE’s approval to continue expansion that benefits not only Louisiana, but also the nation’s economy. With this final approval from the DOE, Sempra can complete its export facility.”
Senator Landrieu’s office reports that the project will put $10 billion in to the local economy and create 3,000 jobs.
Furthermore, Senator Landrieu also recently was named to the top position for the Senate Energy Committee. She is expected to push to open up the US to more LNG Exports and to repeal limits on crude oil exports.
Click here for more information.
OSHA Focuses on Communication Tower Safety
Last year, 13 workers died while working on communication towers, mostly from falls. This is more than the previous two years combined. Additionally, in the first 5 weeks of 2014, there have been 4 fatalities in the industry.
OSHA has begun to focus more on tower safety. They have sent a letter to communication tower employers urging compliance and adherence to safety standards, created a new OSHA website on tower work issues, and have directed compliance officers and regional directors to increase their attention, education, and data collection related to the industry.
See more from the links above or at OSHA’s press release on the topic.
Tower Crane Photography
Wei Gensheng is a tower crane operator working on the Shanghai Tower in China. When completed, the building will be the second tallest in the world. It will have 121 stories and be 2,073 feet tall.
Mr. Gensheng is also an award winning photographer. Check out the story at Equipment World’s website to see some of the spectacular photos from his perch high above Shanghai.
Oklahoma Senate Committee Approves Wind Energy Bill
The OK Senate Energy Committee approved a bill this week that seeks to add a few regulations to how Wind Farms are put up in the state. Committee Chairman Cliff Branan says, “This is sensible regulation, similar to oil and gas…It’s just smart to be safe.”
The bill seeks to give more local control to counties in the wind turbine permitting process, put regulations on setbacks from homes and noise created by turbines, and to require developers to post a $25,000 bond on each turbine.
The bill has passed the committee, now it has to make its way through the rest of the legislative process in Oklahoma.
See more at the Oklahoman News.
ALL Crane puts in Order for 30 New Link-belts
Reported this morning on Vertikal.net, All Erection and Crane Rental has ordered 30 new Link-belt cranes. The order includes 4 of the not yet released model RTC-80150. The Crane is set for its official roll-out at ConExpo next month in Las Vegas.
The 80150 is a 150 ton, 3 axel rough terrain crane. It is powered by a 345hp Cummins and comes with a six-section 195 foot boom. The crane can be transported on a conventional lowboy trailer with two overflow loads. It can be assembled in less than an hour, with an assist crane. See more about the 80150 at Link-Belts press release.
Also included in All Crane’s order are: three HTC-8690 truck cranes, eight 218HSL and six 238HSL lattice boom crawlers, two TCC-750 and seven TCC 1100 telescopic crawlers.
See more on Vertikal.net
OSHA Issues Proposed Rule to Extend Operator Certification Deadline
On August 9th, 2010, OSHA issued a final standard for cranes and derricks in construction work. That standard required operators to be certified/qualified by one of four approved methods by November 10th, 2014.
After the final standard was released, several parties voiced concerns about the requirements. OSHA had three meetings on the issue in April 2013. You can read what came out of those meetings at www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/stakeholders.html.
Back in May of 2013, OSHA announced that it would propose to extend the deadline to 2017, and now they have done that.
See this Department of Labor release for more information, including how to submit your comments on the proposed extension.
H&E Expands in West Texas
The opening of a new location in Lubbock Texas gives the H&E a total of 10 locations in the Lone Star state. The Lubbock office will focus on aerial lifts, telehandlers, and general construction equipment (cranes will continue to be handled by the Dallas branch).
The new 15 acre site in Lubbock will have office space, a six bay repair facility, and plenty of yard space.
Mary Emigh, H&E VP of Operations and Expansion said, “We are extremely pleased to increase our presence in west Texas and expand into the Lubbock market. This area has a strong and diverse economy, including energy, healthcare and education, along with commercial and residential construction.”
H&E was founded in 1961 by Frank Head and Tom Engquist (H&E). The company was sold in 1968, and then repurchased by Engquist in 1974. Through various mergers, acquisitions, and a public offering, the company has continued to grow. Today, they have close to 70 branches, spread throughout the United States.
Keystone Pipeline Environmental Report
The State Department recently released an environmental report on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The report agrees with what proponents of the work have been saying, that it will not have a big impact on carbon emissions.
After a 90 day review and comment period, ending in May, Obama's administration may be able to approve the project.
For now, White House Spokesman Matt Lehrich, has stated that the info will "now need to be closely evaluated by Secretary of State John Kerry and other relevant agency heads...".
The State Department is involved in the process because the proposed pipeline will cross the international border, thus requiring State Department approval.
The North America Building Trades' President, Sean McGarvey, released the following statement after the study was published.
"Any discussion of the Keystone XL pipeline project should center on the fact that it will be constructed by the safest, most highly skilled workforce in the world; in accordance with the strictest environmental and safety standards; and subject to a Project Labor Agreement that will ensure family-sustaining wage and benefit standards.
For the 12% of the American building and construction workforce that continues to be unemployed, the last five years have not been a recession, they have constituted a depression. That is why our unions have pursued the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the thousands of jobs it will create, with such vigor.
We have been patient while this project underwent the most exhaustive review and analysis of any infrastructure project in the history of the United States. And today, having done its due diligence, the U.S. Department of State has once again concluded in its Environment Impact Statement that the Keystone XL project represents a safe and correct course of action for the transport of Canadian oil to the U.S. Gulf region.
The Keystone XL pipeline has now been awaiting regulatory approval for more than five years. There are no more excuses for delaying this project. The time to construct this pipeline is now."
Manitowoc Operating Income Rises
Manitowoc Cranes' operating income rose over 28% from 2012 - 2013, to $218.8 million. Their 2003 total revenue was a reported $2.5 billion. Overall revenue for the entire Manitowoc Group rose 3.5 percent from a year ago to $4.05 billion.
Crane Group CEO, Glen Tellock, said, "Sales and order activity were solid in the Crane segment in the fourth quarter. Driven by sustained demand across multiple product categories, notable crawler cranes and tower cranes, the strong order intake during the quarter was particularly noteworthy as this was the highest level reached since before the recession. Furthermore, we are excited to showcase our innovative new designs in the upcoming year, including an array of technologically advanced products that will premiere at ConExpo 2014.".
"Left coast lifter" makes the move to NYC
What do you do if the barge mounted crane you need for a job in New York is located on the west coast? Easy answer - ship the thing through the Panama Canal. While it is only about 3,000 miles from San Francisco to NYC, if you have to go through the canal, your trip doubles to about 6,000 miles. The massive crane, capable of lifting 1,900 tons, will be used to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge. While the toll on the new bridge may be just $5, the cost for the crane to go through the Panama Canal was a bit higher...reportedly $70,000.
Even with the help of such a specialized piece of equipment, the Tappan Zee job is scheduled to last over 5 years and cost around $3.1 billion. The work is being done by "Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC" - a consortium that includes Fluor, American Bridge, Granite, and Traylor Bros. Fluor and American Bridge operate the Left Coast Lifter through an existing partnership. Check out the video from the NYTimes below - more information about the Panama Canal passage at the New York Times Article.
2013 BLS Union Membership Report
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released their 2013 report on union membership in the United States. This data has been compiled in this manner by the government agency since 1983.
Some highlights from the report: