Australian construction industry powers ahead

  • Insights
  • Australian construction industry powers ahead
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Carly McIver​​​​


Carly McIver​​​​


Crane Index , Market Research
Market Insights

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The latest RLB Crane Index® identifies the greatest amount of crane activity (657) across Australia since Index launch in 2012.

Rider Levett Bucknall’s Q2 2016 RLB Crane Index® released today highlights the continued strength of the residential sector across Australia, underpinned by a low interest rate environment, demand for inner-city living and strong investment sales.

Now a registered trademark and in its 8th edition, the biannual RLB Crane Index® was created by the firm as a simple indicator of building activity and the general health of our construction markets.

With the release of the 8th edition, RLB has started indexing crane activity across Australia. This indexing enables the historical crane activity in all key cities to be graphically represented. The 3rd edition of the RLB Crane Index® (Q2 2013) has been used as the reference date for the calculation of the index.

The RLB Crane Index® shows that since this period, Brisbane has seen a crane activity increase of 174%, Canberra 183%, Melbourne 126%, Perth 127% and Sydney 222%. Australia as a whole has increased by 145%.

Adelaide and Darwin, due to the current state of their construction economy, show an index fall of 40% and 77% respectively.

Stephen Ballesty, Director of Research & Development at Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) said,’ The Q2 2016 RLB Crane Index® has identified a total of 657 cranes currently erected across Australia’s capital cities, a 20% increase since Q4 2015. Despite some media reports, the construction industry is not showing any signs of slowing.’

According to Mr Ballesty, 432 new tower cranes were erected across Australia’s skylines in the past six months, which was offset by the removal of 318 cranes from sites around Australia nearing completion. Representing a churn rate of 80%, he said this highlighted very strong levels of activity over the short term.

‘The high-rise residential apartment market is as hot as ever, with our research identifying 81.1% of all cranes erected across the country to be on residential projects, whilst only 7.0% of the total number are erected on commercial projects. 67.4% of residential crane activity is located in Sydney and Melbourne. Cranes erected on the east coast of Australia amount to 83.5% of all cranes sighted in Australia,’ he added.

The Q2 2016 RLB Crane Index® continues to highlight the positive sentiments of the construction industry. Activity is most buoyant in Sydney with 288 cranes and Melbourne with 148 cranes. These markets are followed by Brisbane (104 ), Perth (45 ), Gold Coast (30), Canberra (11), Adelaide (9 ), Newcastle (9), and Darwin (3 ).

Sydney remains the construction king with the greatest number of cranes erected in residential (239), commercial (22) and civic (16). Melbourne dominated retail (6). The Gold Coast is showing strong activity with 30 cranes now on its skyline, an addition of 14 cranes or 88% since the last count. Newcastle has been included in this edition due to a strong showing of 9 cranes.

The positive growth of crane numbers across the country, corresponds with the growth of residential construction work done. Significant increases in the volume of apartment construction is enabling the growth of cranes across the skyline of Australia.

Asian developers and foreign investors continue to flex their muscle in the residential development market, with recent significant site acquisitions and developments underway in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

As a new initiative, the RLB Crane Index® hotspots map offers a pictorial representation of the collected data for each city, using a heat map indicator to show the level of crane activity.

The size of hotspot is relative to the scale of the map and is not an indication of the crane count in that position. The map uses purple to indicate a lower crane activity, and the brighter yellow insert to indicate higher crane activity.

The location of the hotspots are indicative only and have been positioned to convey the general spread of cranes within a city. The levels of intensity are calculated on a map by map basis and should not be compared between different cities.


Carly McIver​​​​
Carly McIver​​​​

Head of Marketing & Communications