The number of cranes which are dotting Australian skies has dropped back but remains at its second highest level on record, new data shows.

Releasing the first quarter edition of its RLB Crane Index, quantity surveying firm Rider Levitt Bucknall (RLB) said that the number of cranes which it counted across Australian city skylines eased back by 3.7 percent or 32 cranes over the past six months.

As a result, crane numbers fell from a record high of 868 in the third quarter of 2022 to 836 in the first quarter of 2023.

Despite the decline, this still the second highest level on record since the semi-annual count began in 2012.

The decline came as 293 new cranes were added to development sites over the past six months but 325 were removed from projects nearing completion.

Leading the decline were Sydney and Melbourne, where a net of seventeen and fifteen cranes were removed respectively.

On the flip side, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast each recorded gains of four cranes.

Meanwhile, the commercial (offices) sector accounted for the majority of the decline, with crane numbers in this sector going from 76 or 8.8 percent of the total in the third quarter of last year to 63 or 7.5 percent of the total in the last count.

Crane numbers also declined for data centres, retail outlets, hotels and most other sectors (refer table).

However, the number of cranes on civil projects increased from 41 in the third quarter of 2022 to 47 in the most recent count. Most likely, this reflects the large number of megaprojects which are moving through the construction phase.

To prepare the crane count report and index, each RLB office physically counts all fixed cranes on each city’s skyline.

The count is intended to provide a simplified measure of current workload and activity within Australia’s construction sector.

In terms of overall crane numbers, residential development accounts for almost two thirds (63.6 percent) of all cranes in Australia’s skies.

This is followed by mixed-use developments (8.4 percent), commercial developments (7.5 percent) and civil projects (5.6 percent).

By city, around two-thirds of all cranes can be found in either Sydney (43.7 percent) or Melbourne (22.6 percent).

Meanwhile, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth account for 9.2 percent, 6.7 percent and 6.1 percent of cranes respectively.


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