Viva l'Italia15 March 2018
Visiting the North of Italy in January may not be on most people’s list. Putting aside the cold and Milan’s inexplicable fog, it was an enjoyable week; full of beautiful scenery, delicious food and interesting discussions with local manufacturers. These discussions will turn into articles, full of exclusive information, which you will find in this and the following issues of the magazine.
Italy’s role in the global crane industry in relation to its actual size surprised me from my early days at Cranes Today. Apart from the big number of manufacturers, this country contributed to the evolution of crane technology.
Valla’s founder Antonio Valla invented the pick and carry concept, while Ferruccio Moritsch brought major innovations to the tower crane market, establishing Comedil in 1962.
Ferruccio’s son Mariano wants to continue the family tradition in tower crane manufacturing, through its newly-established company Recom Moritsch. In this issue you can find an exclusive interview with Mariano, where he talks about his decision to return to the manufacturing side of the industry and his new products.
In my discussion with Mariano and other manufacturers it was made clear that they are not focusing on the Italian market at this point of time. The economic crisis has severely affected the local market, with many rental companies and suppliers shutting down since 2008. Another effect of the crisis was the change of ownership of many historical companies like Locatelli and Valla.
During the interviews with these two companies, I was told that the change of ownership was a force for good. They both emphasised the importance of financial stability in product development and how they have benefitted from their parent companies’ sales network.
The manufacturers said the Italian market has started to show signs of recovery, with the help of government incentives, but the future is uncertain. With this in mind, they are all targeting international markets, where the vast majority of their products are delivered.
The reputation of Italian manufacturing in terms of quality and safety is driving demand around the world, even in Far East markets that most manufacturers thought they lost completely from Chinese brands.
The intense competition is forcing the manufacturers to change their production practices, in order to enhance efficiency and reduce costs. ‘Standardisation’ was mentioned several times during this trip, as having common components across the range helps the manufacturer with its stock and the user with spare parts.
After-sales services is another area that many manufacturers have been investing in, as they believe that it can distinguish them from competition. Fleet management technologies are now available by the three manufacturers included in this issue.
In terms of product development, the focus is on safety and capacity increases. An interesting fact is that some companies are looking into higher yield strength steel for their cranes, the type that is more popular for mobile crane booms.
I want to thank all the companies for their hospitality and their executives for sharing their knowledge. As I mentioned earlier, Italy has a huge number of manufacturers, which cannot possibly fit in one week. We will be back soon to catch up with more local manufacturers.
Sotiris Kanaris, assistant editor
Sotiris's interview with Locatelli looks in detail at at one of the cranes they will be showing at Intermat. Also in this issue, we have a selection of show previews from Liebherr, Manitowoc, Sennebogen, Raimondi and Faymonville.
While Intermat may no longer be the equal of ConExpo or of Bauma, it is still a significant show. Liebherr will be showing its new range of rough terrains to European customers publicly for the first time, outside of its launch event. Manitowoc will be using the show to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its French tower crane brand, Potain. Sennebogen has a new telecrawler and heavy duty crane.
Raimondi will show a new luffer and a new flattop. And, Faymonville will have new trailers showing off its pendle axle technology.
Also in this issue, we have a very in depth look at the history of crawler cranes from Stuart Anderson, and case studies from two very challenging jobs.
Will North, editor