Posted March 10, 2018 12:02pm Updated March 10.
2018 11:39am BURLINGTON, Texas — What you see in a construction crane may not be what you get.
That’s the takeaway from a new study from the University of Texas at Lubbock, which showed that the construction industry produces a variety of construction equipment that’s often not widely recognized.
“A lot of people assume they have to have a crane, but that’s not the case,” said Kevin Pfeifer, associate professor in the department of engineering and computer science.
“We know the average cost of the crane is between $5,000 and $10,000, but we don’t have a way to know how much it actually costs.”
That’s because companies typically don’t disclose their production costs, PfeIFER said.
“They don’t even make sure the prices are correct,” he said.
When asked if companies actually pay for the construction equipment in their own pockets, PFEIFER replied, “Yes, they do.”
In the study, published in the American Association of Civil Engineers Journal, researchers analyzed the cost of a 1,400-square-foot crane used in construction projects, including $5 to $10 million in construction equipment and more than $50,000 in materials, tools and other supplies.
The study used the most comprehensive data available on the construction crane industry and found that it was a $100 million industry, accounting for more than 60 percent of all the products used in the construction of buildings.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the term ‘big box store,’ but these are smaller stores that sell big box items,” Pfeiffer said.
The survey also found that the most common types of construction crane used were the J-5 (for construction with two people working on the job), the J2 (for work with two workers), and the J4 (for four or more workers).
“The J5 is the one that we have the most data on because it’s the most used,” he explained.
“The biggest one we found was the J5 with eight people working in it.”
The study analyzed the prices for more that 200 types of crane, with prices ranging from $5.00 to $18,000.
“There’s a huge difference between what people are paying for the J1 [for one person working] versus the J3 [for four people working],” Pfeififfer added.
“It’s very clear, it’s a very big difference.”
Pfeffer, along with his colleagues, also found the price of the equipment varies widely depending on where in the country the company is located.
For example, the price for a J2 crane in Texas typically ranges from $12,000 to $20,000 per crane.
“Some companies are located in Texas but there are a lot of smaller companies that are located overseas,” he noted.
“So they’re able to lower their prices even more because they have more overseas customers.”
Another key finding is that construction workers have different needs than they used to.
For instance, some workers use a crane for lifting, while others use a single-handed crane.
The researchers found that workers with lower body strength may be more vulnerable to injury and amputation in a single operation.
Pfeiefer said that even when the company that owns the crane has a good safety record, there is still a need for additional safety precautions.
“In the U.S., there are no safety codes.
It’s all about getting the right kind of safety equipment,” he stated.
“What we’re finding is when we’re doing construction in a country like Mexico or China, it might be safer than in the U to use a larger crane.”
In addition to the cost difference, Pffifer said that construction work can be hazardous.
“You don’t know if you’re going to fall in the wrong place or get hurt,” he added.
PFEIFEER said the construction company industry should be held accountable for its safety practices.
“Safety should be a top priority, especially in the field of construction, where there are thousands of workers,” he told News 12.
That’s a reason why we need to look at safety in construction,” he concluded.