It’s all about connections

5 October 2017 by Sotiris Kanaris

During an event at its Stargard factory, Cargotec’s Hiab launched HiConnect, a new cloud-based data platform that allows owners and operators to track crane use. Sotiris Kanaris attended the event

Over the past decade, truck fleet management has transformed through the evolution of telematics.  Data collection and analysis, have become integral to the management process, enhancing operational efficiency.

Until now, fleet owners of truck-mounted cranes could receive real-time data for their trucks’ performance, but no information about the cranes. Hiab aims to solve this problem with the introduction of the HiConnect service, which has been developed in collaboration with seven customers in the UK, France and the Netherlands through pilots since 2015.

The crane becomes connected by having a black box communicator mounted to it, then the gateway can pull data from the equipment and send it to the cloud via mobile connection. The service users are able to access a dashboard on their computer or mobile device, which shows real-time insights of their equipment utilisation, operation and condition.

Jan-Erik Lindfors, vice president, new business solutions at Hiab, said: “Through this information, customers can actively optimise performance and avoid unnecessary downtime. Currently, customers have limited, often manual-input based insights, and lack of information about their equipment utilisation rate, condition and operation. Now, HiConnect offers real-time insights via web-based dashboards with clear and simple overviews that provide status monitoring, service planning and help improve the operation of each unit and operator.”

HiConnect users get notifications when there are issues with the operation and driving of the equipment, for example if the crane is driven with the boom up. This enables the fleet manager to act immediately.

Hiab offers HiConnect as a subscription service with three modules. The ones currently available are the free one, where only selected bits of information are displayed, and the basic one which includes the features described above. From the beginning of next year the premium module will be available, which will have additional features.

More than forty connected units are currently in operation, some belong to the fleet of UK-based builders’ merchants Travis Perkins. “Modern technology and connectivity has totally changed the way we operate our business. Now that we can track the vehicles in our fleet, we know exactly where they are and what they are doing. With this information, we can be more efficient and operate much more safely,” said Andrew Hollingsworth, fleet technical manager, Travis Perkins.

During the fourth quarter of 2017, Hiab will present a HiConnect retrofit solution to selected existing Hiab loader cranes and Multilift demountables and customers in five markets—USA, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands and Germany, with expansion of the HiConnect offering and market coverage during 2018.

“We stated our ambition that all new Hiab equipment shall be connected by 2018. That is what we are working on, connecting us more deeply with the customer to develop new ways of adding value to their business,” said Roland Sundén, president of Hiab.

 The introduction of HiConnect as a connected solution alongside HiVision shows the manufacturer’s commitment in enhancing its total offering. On the service side, apart from customised service contract offering ProCare, Hiab will offer spare parts on its webshop.

When it comes to the equipment itself, the company has invested heavily in renewing its portfolio over the past few years. Sundén said: “If I take a date in 2014, when I joined the company, 60% of our products were ten years old or older. I put out together with my team a target that this year 70% or more of all our products should be three years old or younger. During this year, we have significantly renewed our product offering, made huge investment in new designs and production facilities and that has paid off. It has been a big factor behind the growth our business.”

In September, Hiab introduced continuous slewing on its 30–40tm range of cranes. Continuous slewing had previously been available only for cranes over 50tm.

“Continuous slewing offers the operator the best possible load access, avoiding unnecessary backtracking, and enables safer operation with no awkward lifts and stopping in risky positions. There has been high demand for this from our customers, which we are now answering by expanding our offering to the lighter end of the heavy range,” says Marcel Boxem, director heavy range cranes, Hiab.

The following models are now available with continuous slewing: Hiab X-HiPro 358, Hiab X-CLX 398, Hiab X-HiPro 408, and Hiab X-HiPro 418.

Sundén said the company will continue to focus on innovation, as customers around the world have to face challenges such as rapid urbanisation and stricter regulation.

He added that Hiab can become more of a business consultant in the future, as with increased connected solutions it will be much more insightful on how a customer’s business is performing.

Bonds strong as an elephant

Hiab’s logo may be an elephant, but it was still surprising to see an 8t granite elephant standing at the entrance of the factory.  It was given as a gift by Hiab’s Danish distributor SAWO and was transported over 1,000km by family business Bent Mortensen, who has been a Hiab customer for more than five decades.

Per Mortensen and his son Jesper Mortensen took up this task. A fifth generation crane driver, 36-year old Jesper lifted and placed ‘Hiabilski’ – as the elephant was affectionately named – to its current position using a Hiab X-HiPro 1058.