Crane numbers remain strong across Australia

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  • Crane numbers remain strong across Australia
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Domenic Schiafone


Domenic Schiafone


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Construction crane numbers remain strong across Australia led by Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, according to leading global quantity surveyor and cost consultant, Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) in their Q1 2024 RLB Crane Index®.

Domenic Schiafone, Rider Levett Bucknall’s Oceania Director of Research and Development commented, “The Australian construction industry remains buoyant with 869 cranes on sites nationally. The Q1 2024 RLB Crane Index® has recorded the second highest count in the 24 editions of the index. This editions’ value is the 2nd highest in the history of the RLB Crane Index®.”

“The large number of cranes observed correlates with national construction activity. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, total construction activity across Australia for the 2023 calendar year was up by 9.0%, or $21bn, compared to 2022,” he added.

Sydney crane activity leads the way

Looking around the country, Sydney continues to be the main driver of crane activity. Of the 869 cranes sighted across Australia, 309 were in Sydney, 194 in Melbourne, 78 in Brisbane, 61 on the Gold Coast, 45 in Perth, 26 in Canberra, 17 in Adelaide, 16  on the Sunshine Coast, 16 in Newcastle, 12 in Wollongong, 12 on the Central Coast, 2 in Hobart and 0 in Darwin.

Four cities recorded higher crane numbers for Q1 2024 compared to six months prior (Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne and Newcastle). Melbourne was the only city that gained more than 10 cranes.

The highest number of cranes on a site in Australia was the Amazon Fulfilment Centre in Melbourne with seven cranes.

Melbourne bounces back

Domenic continued, “When comparing current and historical crane numbers for Melbourne, Sydney and nationally, Melbourne bounced back after falling in the two previous counts. Melbourne’s count of 194 cranes has climbed above the average number of cranes in Melbourne of 175 since Q1 2015.”

“Current crane numbers in Sydney and nationally are well above their respective averages of 310 and 708,” he noted.

Sydney’s RLB Crane Index® dipped by 3% from its peak level in the previous edition (248 index points) to 241 index points. The index now represents 390 cranes across Sydney.

Gap between Sydney and Melbourne continues to be wide

With 196 cranes between the two, the projects with the largest number of cranes in Sydney include:

  • Vicinti and Destination (Macquarie Park, five cranes)
  • Tallawong Village (Tallawong, four cranes)
  • New Sydney Fish Markets (Glebe, four cranes)
  • Randwick Campus Redevelopment (Randwick, four cranes)
  • Westconnex (Rockdale, four cranes,)
  • Western Sydney Airport (Badgerys Creek, four cranes)
  • Powerhouse Parramatta (Parramatta, four cranes)

According to RLB, Melbourne recorded a 9% jump in crane numbers for this edition. The RLB Crane Index® rose to 167 points from 153 points in Q3 2023. Across Melbourne, 107 new cranes were added to projects, and 91 cranes were removed. This represents a net gain of 16 cranes, bringing the total number of cranes up to 194, compared to 178 recorded in the previous edition.

This is a 13% drop in cranes compared to Q1 2019, when 222 cranes were recorded in Melbourne – the highest number of cranes since the RLB Crane Index® began.

Melbourne crane increases reflect public works activity

Overall, Melbourne saw net crane increases in the civil sector (up nine), data centres (up four), mixed use (up five), residential (up 13) and retail (up one). This reflects the continued public works activity that has been fuelling the engineering sector for the past few years.

Some of these projects include the Westgate Tunnel, North East Link, Level Crossing Removals, and the Metro Tunnel project, which are all contributing to a record number of civil cranes. The current number of 32 civil cranes is above the previous sector high of 23 cranes in Q3 2021.

Residential cranes dominate the skies on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast RLB Crane Index® remained steady at last month’s record index value of 407 points. A total of 22 cranes were added across the region, and 22 were removed. As a result, the Gold Coast’s total crane number remained at 61. Residential cranes continue to dominate the skies, accounting for 86.9% of all cranes in the region. The other sectors with cranes are the aged-care, commercial, education and mixed-use sectors.

New residential cranes in the Gold Coast region included: 68 Albatross (Mermaid Beach), Bahr (Palm Beach), Coast (Surfers Paradise), Esprit (Coolangatta), Eva (Palm Beach), Lagoon (Main Beach, two cranes), Lana (Bilinga), Lanni (Mermaid Beach), Lily (Broadbeach), Maiha (Bilinga), Malo (Broadbeach), Monteray (Kirra), Navini (Bilinga), Odessy (Surfers Paradise), Rhythm (Kirra), The Finn (Mermaid Beach) and Villea (Palm Beach).

Residential falls while non-residential sector up slightly

Domenic concluded, “The residential index fell from the record high of 178 in the last edition by four index points to 174 points. The index represents 540 cranes, down from 553 in the last count. 210 cranes were added to residential projects, with 223 removed from sites.”

“The non-residential index remained steady at 286 points. There are 329 cranes on non-residential sites—the same total as in Q3 2023. The non-residential proportion of cranes across the country is 38%, up slightly from the 37% recorded in the last count,” he said.

Read the Australia Q1 2024 RLB Crane Index® here