ESTA is “cautiously optimistic” about workload prospects in the European crane rental sector as public finances continue to improve after the 2008 crash.
Serious concerns remain about the impact of Brexit and the growing climate of protectionism – along with the unnecessary bureaucracy and petty local regulations – prevailing in several European markets.
But recent European construction industry forecasts have been positive for almost all sectors from housing and commercial building through to the energy, water, transport and telcomms markets, and that bodes well for the sector’s workload in the short and medium terms.
ESTA’s Section Cranes President Wouter van Noort said: “The day rental sector is very busy throughout Europe and there is good demand for mobile cranes, especially at the smaller end of the market.
“The market in bigger projects is really challenging at the moment – but it is beginning to come back and I am optimistic that by the second half of 2019 and into 2020 the European market will be stronger.”
Van Noort, who is Managing Director of Mammoet Europe, said that despite the major project slowdown, there is still a fair amount of maintenance and upgrade work in power stations, refineries and the wider oil and gas industry.
The decommissioning of nuclear power stations and wind energy – both on- and off-shore – are also reasonably strong markets.
He added: “Geographically, there are not huge differences across Europe. Of course, workload is stronger in some countries than others, but the variation is not too great, especially now that the southern European countries that were hit hardest by the 2008 crash are seeing a solid recovery.”
The latest construction forecasts were published recently by Euroconstruct, a body that brings together construction market consultants and economists from 19 European countries.
The organization said that the market was growing well on the back of low interest rates, good economic performance and pent-up demand.
It added that increasing tax revenues across Europe are allowing for greater investment in public construction, transport networks and other infrastructure, with the market’s strength increasingly focused on civil engineering while housing weakens.
As a result it is predicting that the construction sector as a whole will grow by 6.25 per cent in real terms by the end of 2020 with growth in road and bridge construction – a key civil engineering indicator – forecast to expand by over 16 per cent in the same period.
ESTA Director Ton Klijn added: “If these forecasts prove correct, we are cautiously optimistic that ESTA’s European crane rental and heavy transport members can expect reasonably stable workloads between now and the end of 2020.
“But we have to bear in mind that workload on its own does not solve the problems of protectionism, unnecessary bureaucracy and unsustainably low prices.”