Strengthening tower cranes

26 October 2017

In January 2014 Raimondi announced its acquisition by Dubai based KBW Investments. Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO of KBW Investments talks to Bernadette Ballantyne about development since the deal

Alkhoshaibi says, “Nearly all of the funds KBW invested into Raimondi went into research and development. Part of that was concentrated on top tier recruitment, much of it tied to the boosting of Raimondi R&D.

“In the initial stages, we felt there was an urgent need to bring aboard fresh innovators to invigorate the internal development segment, and make the new technologies we envisioned an actionable reality. Before the acquisition, there were issues that needed rectifying, and with that came restructuring, expenditure analysis, and redistribution of existing assets. “Raimondi is still based in our ancestral home of Legnano; it’s a historic manufacturing district in Italy and we’re one of the only original members of that community that is still operating there. There were some really big names in that town, and gradually over the years, they have all dropped off. We are committed to honoring that European manufacturing heritage and that’s why the bulk of the investments made into Raimondi went into our core operations at our headquarters in Italy. We are in the process of doubling the size of our Legnano headquarters to meet client demand.

Pursuant to the success we’ve seen in just a few short years, we’re scaling now as we anticipate further growth, and we want to really build on the company’s upward trajectory. That expansion is one of the reasons we have undertaken consistent communications across four social media channels, our own online news portal on our website, and a quarterly newsletter.

“In terms of dealers and distributors around the world Raimondi is focused on agent support and relationship cultivation.

The first, and the most important, aspect of our commercial strategy is our official agent network. We are extremely invested in the success of our relationships, and our agents act as our frontline for many of the countries where Raimondi has an impressive market share and foothold. Sales and activity in Swiss, French and Australian markets continue to skyrocket, and we believe that our respective agents there are very much responsible for the recognition of Raimondi quality in these booming areas. Producing fine precision machinery does play a role of course, but if you’ve got an exceptional product with no consumer-facing exposure then you just aren’t going to gain traction. So, our dealers are pivotal to our success and we endeavor to support those companies in every way possible, leading with technical support and technical planning for the most complex of jobsites.

“Recently, we’ve appointed Mauro Masetti as commercial director to oversee the establishment of new strategic partnerships. Our objective is to have the right partner in every country – Mauro’s purview is to develop this already-strong network. Mauro’s mission at Raimondi is developing that footprint in markets where we have no official agent in place – he is now actively meeting with potential partners all over the world. We’ve recently seen our first topless tower crane in Albania, and we were thrilled to see two of our hammerheads erected in Kosovo. Both of these milestones were a terrific boon for us, as new territories, but ultimately the goal is that we want to have strong Raimondi agents in each and every area.

“In terms of the Middle East, we operate with a client-direct model here – liaising with our offices here in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh is the same as dealing directly with Raimondi headquarters in Italy. This has inspired a lot of confidence in the respective Middle East cities that we have offices in, as market influencers here often prefer in-person contact with tailored one-on-one service experiences. Being on the ground and ready to meet with your clients is an integral part of being successful in the business culture of the Middle East and North Africa, hence our decision to launch that type of operation.

“In 2016 KBW acquired the French anti-collision system manufacturer Ascorel creating a joint venture aimed at increasing the adoption of safety technology across Middle East jobsites. It is an attempt at introducing the strong Ascorel construction safety solutions to new clients, and to allow for existing Middle East direct relationships to be expanded upon and better serviced. Due to their mutual interests, Raimondi Cranes and Ascorel have worked together for years in the heavy lifting segment, so it made sense for KBW to lead with this partnership. The terms of our cooperative efforts are a cofounding of Ascorel Middle East. We continuously stress to the market that adoption of quality safety technology acts as an insurance policy. It is a far better preventative measure and a sound investment, as the reactive route of replacing or repairing a damaged crane is considerably more costly. The severe implications of an onsite crane collision extend far beyond what you would pay for preventative technology, and we believe that proactive - not reactive - attitudes are best for the construction industry as a whole.

“Being proactive and adopting safety technology should certainly be a priority in the Middle East; many of the jobsites in this region are on hyper-accelerated timelines with very stressful expectations in terms of project turnaround, leading to many cranes simultaneously operating onsite at any given time. The more cranes you have at work, the more important it is to protect yourself with the right tools – in this case, anticollision technology.

“A basic truth that serves us well in this region is that our quality is irrefutable - we have end-to-end sourcing trails and our material footprint is highly transparent and fully European in origin. Durability and longevity are two major Raimondi product hallmarks – if you invest in a Raimondi crane, we guarantee that you will make that investment back. “It is often the case that price conscious clients may want to choose a Chinese product, and to that, we say your short-term pricedriven decision will make you pay in spades in the long-term; fortunately, many large companies in this region stay away from the short-term savings and instead are happy to consider a bigger investment for a much better machine.

“We have launched a wildly popular luffing model, the LR213, and our MRT range of tower cranes are doing fantastic. Finally, I am thrilled to confirm that we’ve got a few products currently in beta stage that are already garnering solid pre-sell interest, and we’ll be sharing news on those developments soon.”

Innovation is central

Domenico Ciano, technical director at Raimondi Cranes, explains the development undertaken since KBW Investments took over.

“We have been empowered to dedicate significant attention and resources to our R&D, thereby enabling design enhancements, studies and experimentation, and finally, trials with crane operators. Rather than bringing in these ideas post-design, we’ve incorporated hundreds of hours of crane operator testimony and preferences, and took this research into consideration for new product development at inception stage,” he says explaining that this has allowed for innovative solutions to crane operator observations that he claims as so far been ignored in the industry at large. “One practical application of this research has been the Raimondi Deluxe R16 crane cabin. More than 80% of the total crane cabin is glass enabling a much larger viewing field - even the cabin floor underfoot is glass, based on what operators most often mentioned was inhibiting performance and confidence,” he says.

The team is also working on a number of other new developments including a bespoke version of the MRT 223 for a jobsite in Venice. “It presents many unique challenges, and we’re applying the absolute latest in cutting-edge crane manufacturing technologies to present the best solution. It is one of many of these types of solutions that we are at work on this year. We are currently in beta stage with a few new models. We are extremely excited to share the technical specifications and details about one in particular: the new Raimondi MRT234.”

Of course these developments are alongside the new launches made by Raimondi in recent months including the new MRT159 topless tower crane, and the LR213 luffing jib crane. For the new MRT159 (and its counterpart the MRT189) clients have been very positive about the fact that the cranes arrive onsite with all parts preassembled, ropes passed, rope connections installed, short trolley rope on drum and useful accessories to pass and keep the long trolley rope in position, and that the small and useful accessories allow having everything close to point of installation.

“These two models, part of our mission to increase market share and footprint, did very well, and continue to do well. Ease of use, and ease of maintenance are two pillars of our manufacturing techniques; Raimondi’s safety devices and mechanisms have advanced greatly and we’ve enhanced all essential crane parts.” An example of this, he says, is the LR213’s comfortable walkway with a great deal of space for access which has received terrific feedback from our clients.

The LR213 is easy to maintain, with hoisting and luffing winches mounted on the big counterjib platform, and an increased counterjib surface is a result of the two lateral big service platforms. All of the LR213’s safety mechanisms and electronic devices are located on the counterjib, hence allowing easy and safe access for technicians and operators.

At work in the UAE
Raimondi Cranes at work on the Nations Tower in Abu Dhabi