Return of the RT

02 August 2019

As the market starts to recover, Hannah Sundermeyer breaks down the market for rough terrain cranes.

When I first started as the assistant editor of ACT, I actually made myself flashcards to learn all the different crane terminology. Rough terrain cranes were the first machines that I started recognizing on the streets of Chicago. It seems to be the bread and butter crane in the industry. The machines are flexible in tight spaces and are frequently used on infrastructure projects and urban jobsites. Their ability to pick and carry is a plus, giving them a work horse status.

Terex view 2

Demand appears to be increasing for larger class rough terrain cranes.

The biggest demand for RTs over the past decade was in the oil and gas industry. These cranes were ideal in many energy industry applications. The market for this class of machines fell drastically in 2014, and there hasn’t been much recovery until this year. The industry is hopeful for a return to a healthy rough terrain crane market.

Liebherr (1)

The Liebherr LRT 1100-2.1 is a 110-ton class crane equipped with a 164-foot Telematik pinning boom, 62-foot swing away jib and a hydraulic ballasting device. 

Energy comeback

When asked what it would take for the market to improve, Casey Lembke, media relations for Tadano America, said that energy related industries (oil and gas and petrochemicals) are the most important, but infrastructure investment and construction demand are also major players.

Randy Spike, regional sales manager, Pacific Northwest/product manager for LRT cranes at Liebherr USA, contends that a federal infrastructure spending bill would help improve the overall market.

“Right now, it seems that the larger you go in capacity the more active the market,” said Kelly Fiechter, product manager rough terrain cranes, Link-Belt. “The progression of utilization towards larger RTs has held steady while small pickers’ growth is behind.”

A better-quality rental rate environment is needed, Fletcher added, one that would provide a return on investments to allow owners to upgrade their fleets.

“The 100-ton class is very competitive,” said John Bair, product manager for Grove cranes at Manitowoc. “The market has shifted over the last decade or so from the 60 to 70-ton class being the most popular models in rental fleets to the 100-ton class. Versatility is key for fleet owners. RTs are used for a wide array of applications ranging from general construction, bridge and highway to the energy sector, and having flexibility in reach and capacity is pivotal to ensure high utilization.”

“The rough terrain market is coming out of a challenging stage due to collapsing oil prices back in 2014 and taking a slower recovery path,” said Olga Dubinok, crane sales manager, Zoomlion North America. “Although the market is not where we would like it to be, and rough terrains are falling behind other classes of cranes, the fact that rough terrains are hardworking machines and still have a high demand in utilization in non-residential infrastructure, the energy sector and government projects makes us feel confident that growth of the rough terrain market will continue with a decent pace and will reach its consistent strength in the period of 2019-2025.”

Dubinok said that every class of rough terrain cranes is flat, but generally higher capacity, longer boom units are the most sought-after because they can perform at larger-scale projects.

“We have seen a concentration and demand in the market for 90-ton and higher with the low-end demand below 60 ton decreasing for several years,” said Chris Johnson, director of sales for rough terrain and tower cranes in North America for Terex. “With a maximum capacity of 100 tons and a narrow width of 9.8 feet, the Terex RT 100US offers competitive performance and ease of transport for the 100-ton class.”

Manitex serves the smaller end of the market with 15 and 30-ton units. This market, including the cab-down is competitive.

“Refineries play a big role in the utilization of our products, and there are many older models in service that will be due for replacement in the near future,” said Beau Pocock, industrial sales manager at Manitex.

Super competitive

Tadano’s RTs are particularly popular in the over 100-ton capacity category. This class has become increasingly competitive in recent years as the major OEMs have launched cranes in this class. Tadano’s largest RT is the GR-1600XL that has a 160-ton lifting capacity and a 200.1-foot boom on a 3-axle carrier.

LinkBelt 120 RT

The new 120-ton 120|RT was displayed at Link-Belt’s booth at Bauma 2019 in Germany.

Spike said that while the RT market is competitive in all classes, Liebherr will likely move towards larger units in the 90-ton and above class where it is already positioned with 100- and 110-ton capacity RTs.

What exactly are customers looking for in a new RT? Terex’s Johnson said his customers are looking for the longest boom available.

“This eliminates the need for having to swing a jib and makes the whole process quicker and safer, but longer booms also mean a more complicated extend system which increases the complexity of operation which can be countered through an easy-to-understand integrated control system,” he said. “Safety and overall compliance is also critical as standards continue to become stricter in different jobsites such as refineries and mines. Aftermarket support is also a critical aspect as keeping the cranes operational, and maximizing up time is the most important aspect to a user.”

Following are the latest models released by the major rough terrain crane OEMs.


The Liebherr LRT 1090-2.1 features all-terrain maneuverability, and the standard VarioBase ensures that the crane delivers a high level of safety and performance. The hydro-mechanical telescoping system with rope pull technology enables the telescope to be extended to the required length quickly and easily, Liebherr said. The machine also features a maximum load capacity of 90 tons and a 154.2-foot telescopic boom. The Liebherr LRT 1100-2.1 is a 110-ton class crane equipped with a 164-foot Telematik pinning boom, 62-foot swing away jib and a hydraulic ballasting device.

NEW grove

The 100-ton capacity Grove GRT8100 features a 39.2 to 154.3 five-section full power boom.


The Terex RT 100US features 154 feet of main boom and offers long reach and three boom modes for competitive performance and productivity, the company said. Three boom modes include the unique synchronized boom mode, in addition to strength and stability modes. The RT 100US has a narrow width of 9.8 feet and removable counterweight, which allows it to be trailered without weight and width restrictions in most situations.


The Link-Belt 120|RT features a six-section 38.3 to 164.1-foot pin and latch formed boom. An available two-piece 35-58 feet on-board offsettable fly provides greater flexibility and range, and manually offsets at 0, 15, 30 and 45 degrees, the company said. Two 16-foot lattice insert extensions provide a maximum tip height of 261.7 feet. The crane also has the same cab that was launched in 2017 on Link-Belt’s 75|RT, meaning it can tilt 20 degrees.


The Grove GRT8100 features a 100-ton capacity with a 39.2-154.3 five section full power boom. The machine is also equipped with a 33-56 foot manual offsettable bi-fold lattice swingaway extension, 22,000-pound standard counterweight hydraulically installed and removed, user-friendly controls with electronic joysticks and operator customizable function speeds and full cab vision with a 20-degree tilt feature.


The Manitex M150 rough terrain crane is just over 11 feet tall, which makes it an ideal choice when space is limited, the company said. But despite the compact size, the M150 features a 4-wheel drive and 4-wheel steering in order to maneuver in very tight spots and multiple boom configurations. Other features include a 15-ton capacity, 62.5 maximum boom length, 85.5-foot maximum boom tip height and an option 20 feet of jib. The M300 RT features a 30-ton capacity, a maximum boom length of 77 feet and maximum boom tip height of 90 feet.

Manitex M150

The Manitex M150 rough terrain crane is just over 11 feet tall, which makes it ideal for refinery work. 


The new Tadano GR-150XL-3 is a 15-ton full-scale rough terrain crane released for the North American market in April 2019. This new model has evolved significantly from the previous GR-150XL-2. The GR-150XL-3 has a maximum 78.7-foot six-section boom and hydraulic offset and a two-stage jib at 11.8 feet and 18 feet. Maximum lifting height reaches 80.4 feet by boom and 97.4 feet by boom plus jib.


The 15-ton Tadano GR-150XL is a full-scale rough terrain crane released for the North American market in April 2019. 


The ZRT850 features a five section, U-shaped telescopic boom, a maximum lifting height of 215 feet and a 94-ton to 10-foot working radius. It’s telescoping system consists of a two-stage hydraulic cylinder with a rope extension mechanism. The boom head and end structure provides stronger load bearing capacities, and the cab is designed for maximum comfort and ease of operation, the company said.

Zoomlion ZRT850 (1)

The ZRT850 features a five section, U-shaped telescopic boom.


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