Old and new

21 December 2016

This year we haven't included rankings. In past years, we provided lists of the biggest companies by number of cranes in their fleet. As a free-to-enter, open-to-all, survey based purely on respondents reports of their own fleet, this posed a problem. At the top of the rankings, we often missed companies who, for one reason or another, had not filled in the survey form. At the other end of the rankings, we included companies who were bigger in the field than anyone else who had filled in the form in their region, but who may not actually have been focused on the equipment listed.

We'll bring back the rankings, if there is significant interested from fleet owners, and if we see enough responses to make it more meaningful than it has been. Until then, I think that the basic listings provide more useful information on who has the fleet that fits an end user's needs. To put together a ranking like this based only on historical data or a guess (however educated) strikes me as misleading, at best.

In this issue, we have two features looking at the buying and selling of cranes. We start with a look at manufacturers' buyback and refurbishment schemes. As Sally Spencer finds out, some manufacturers have made such schemes a core part of their business. Others, either directly or through their sales network, will consider offering buyback on a case-by-case basis.

In a market like today's, where fleet owners may be looking to refresh, but not necessarily expand, their fleet, and may struggle to find buyers for secondhand cranes, schemes like this provide a degree of extra liquidity.

Our second article, by Sotiris Kanaris, looks at different methods of funding crane purchases. Cranes hold their value very well, making crane fleets a good bet for finance firms. It's important to look as closely at how you fund a purchase, as it is to select the right crane. As one of Sotiris's interviewees, Jeffrey Gocken, vice president and global programme manager at global finance company DLL, says, “Fleet owners take a lot of time making sure they get the right crane to meet their needs, but it is equally important to find a partner from a finance standpoint that is going to be with them throughout the cycles."

We conclude the supplement with a series of eight company profiles.

These sponsored profiles give companies across the industry a chance to describe what's best about what they do, entirely in their own words. As we develop and work on Fleet File, we keep seeing scope for improvement. This year, we received responses from almost 150 companies.

Very many of these came in during the last few weeks of the survey. That's always a source of stress for me. I think this year, we've given a good picture of the shape of the world's crane fleets.

The vast majority of entries this year came in response to a series of email blasts at the end of the campaign. I'm always cautious of sending too many reminders like this, but it has worked well this year. Next year, we'll start sending these email reminders earlier in the survey campaign. I hope that will make the 2017 survey even more comprehensive.

Will North Editor