A new era

19 March 2018

As rough terrain manufacturer Locatelli Crane is getting ready for Intermat, Sotiris Kanaris visited its factory and talked with sales manager Michele Mortarino about the company’s plans for the show and beyond.

At Intermat, Locatelli Crane will unveil to the public a major design change, the move from welded square booms to bent ones.

Sales manager Michele Mortarino says the new design will result to less weight on each section of the boom, more elasticity and higher capacities.

“We understood that with small modifi cations on this boom element we can obtain different lengths and we can use these booms on different models,” says Mortarino.

This technology will be embedded in the new Gril 52.47, which will be displayed for the fi rst time at the international event. The new crane has maximum capacity of 47t with CE certifi cation at 75% tipping load, and 52t with 85% tipping load.

This model is the new generation of Locatelli Crane’s 50t rough terrain crane, the company’s oldest machine and its best seller. Apart from the new boom, the Gril 52.47 will have a completely redesigned upper structure – based on the one used for the 55t model – and will feature the newly-standardised hydraulic and electronic systems.

“We decided to develop a new solution for this capacity class in order to remain technologically competitive, while maintaining our very competitive pricing,” Mortarino explains.

Mortarino says other rough terrain manufacturers recently invested in upgrades or new cranes for capacities exceeding 60t, responding to a higher market demand. Through the introduction of the Gril 52.47 the company will have the newest model in the 50t class, which it hopes will create a comparative advantage.

This is the latest of a series of new models launched since the acquisition of the company by Italian family-owned group Plana from crane rental company Venpa. Plana Group is involved in the energy and real estate sectors, with international offi ces in Singapore, Brazil and the Middle East.

Mortarino says that being part of a large group, gives Locatelli Crane the fi nancial security to proceed with product developments and the ability to have medium to long-term strategies.

In recent years, the company has made efforts to standardise all models, in order to enhance branding and allow customers to have a stock of components which can be used on different models.

Apart from standardisation, the production process was affected by the change of practices of component suppliers. After the fi nancial crisis hit Italy in 2008, the suppliers are no longer investing in stock components, making purchase plans more rigid. Mortarino says in the past suppliers were able to deliver components in few weeks and were fl exible with additions and reductions in purchase orders.

“There is no fl exibility anymore. Even if you are willing to pay double the price you will not be able to purchase an additional component if it was not scheduled at the beginning of the year. So as everybody else, we have to arrange yearly forecasts and update our choices every two quarters,” says Mortarino.

“The organization of the chain has to involve medium-term planning and for this reason we have a constant stock of components, close to 6.5m, and this is a big cost for the company.”

The economic downturn crashed the demand for rough terrain cranes in Italy, a country that used to be the third largest market for RTs in the world. However, at Locatelli Crane they have seen a growth in local demand for their products since 2015, with last year recording a 30% increase.

“The Italian second hand crane market was very strong between 2011 and 2015, because the availability was very high.

Nowadays the availability of second hand machines is very low and consequently the prices are relatively high. Investors are now more interested in new equipment because some government initiatives make investment in new equipment more profitable.”

What helped Locatelli Crane maintain a healthy business over the past decade is its strong performance outside Italy. Nearly nine out of ten of the cranes manufactured are sent outside Europe, with the Middle East and North Africa being the strongest markets.

“Thanks to our network of sales and after sales we have also finalised deals in some other African markets like Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritania and Senegal,” adds Mortarino.

He highlights that in the near future Locatelli Crane wants to increase its market share in some South American markets, and it is already looking into some opportunities in Brazil where its parent company has offices.

Mortarino is surprised to see the increased business opportunities in the Far East, a region he thought “lost” due to the emergence of Chinese crane manufacturers in the international market.

“Starting three years ago, several customers from this region after the first experience with Chinese products started looking again at European cranes. In several territories due to the lack of after sales service from Chinese manufacturers or geopolitical reasons, customers came back. We have seen an increase in demand from Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, and Bangladesh.”

Locatelli Crane has invested heavily in the after-sales service, as the company understands it is a way to distinguish itself from other market players. It has recently launched a software for the sale of spare parts, which customers can access from the company’s website by using their private account.

Users will then choose the model, generating a 3D design of the model (with all the technical specifications available for download), click on the specific components they require and add them to their shopping basket.

In addition, the manufacturer is creating a mobile app that will connect customers to the network of after sales operators, offering fast messaging. Users will also have access to the main manuals of all models.

In terms of the product range, Locatelli Crane is planning on launching a 100t machine to meet increasing demand in that category. Mortarino is excited about the new products and services and he is optimistic that sales will continue to grow in the next few years.