The Chinese domestic market for large capacity cranes will continue to grow over the next two to three years because of demand from key projects and the state’s financial policies. Chinese manufacturers are expanding their production to keep up.

XCMG has invested RMB200,000 ($27,000) in an all terrain and concrete pump factory. Terex Changjiang and Jinzhou Huayuan (formerly Jinzhou Heavy Machinery Co) are now also planning to make all terrains.

Sany Science & Technology Shanghai has moved its crane manufacturing base from Shanghai to the nearby Kunshan development zone, and has increased its production capacity. It aims to sell 400 crawlers in 2008.

Truck crane manufacturer Shenyang North Traffic Heavy Industry Group is investing RMB4bn ($540m) in a new site.

Loader manufacturer Mudanjiang Special Truck Co has set up what it claims is the largest loader factory in China, with an area of 56,000 sq m, in nearby Tieling, Liaoning province. The company has set up a subsidiary to operate the factory, called Tieling Special Vehicle Co. The two companies produce the same truck loaders, and are launching a new 20t capacity loader this year.

Other manufacturers are expanding into making crawler cranes. Zhenchong Anli Engineering Machinery, Foton Lovol Heavy Equipment and Fushun Yongmao all announced plans to make crawler cranes at BICES). Since then, truck crane manufacturers Shenyang North Traffic Heavy Industries Group and Zhengzhou Yutong Heavy Industries Co have announced plans to make small crawlers.

At the meeting, officials discussed their objectives for Chinese crane makers. “Although we have a growth market, and almost every manufacturer is building new factories to increase production capacity, we still hope all entrepreneurs have a keen eye for changing markets and deeply investigate the domestic and overseas markets,” said Yongmin Shen, CCMA hoist branch secretary.

Technology is a limiting factor for Chinese firms, said Yi Cao, vice-general manager of Xuzhou Heavy Machinery Co, part of construction giant XCMG. “Mid- and large capacity cranes are becoming the mainstream of the market, and manufacturers are working toward this. But we should be aware that although some advanced technologies have been mastered by our industry, we are still lacking basic technology for large cranes. Large crane R&D needs a progressive development process.”

Shen suggested leading manufacturers should increase their R&D. She encouraged them also to extend the exchange and cooperation with research institutions and universities.

Participants agreed that the Chinese industry needs to build up its international image. The industry formerly imitated foreign products, but this approach will no longer work, said XHMC’s Yi Cao. They agreed that China should have its own technology, instead of following foreign manufacturers, strengthen core technologies, and improve innovation.

Chinese manufacturers are also a step behind multinational crane manufacturers in after-sales support, argued Jubiao Ren, Zoomlion Puyuan vice-general manager. “The multinational companies have been adopting information management to control spare parts supply to support aftersales service. China’s crane industry has gaps with its foreign competitors in this area. Chinese manufactures are aware this problem and are enhancing their parts supply systems.”

Chinese cranes are looking better and performing better than before, said Hui Wu, vice-president, Terex Changjiang. “The gaps are shortening with Japanese products in these aspects. But in the product’s reliability and service areas we should continue our efforts.”

He complained that the short supply of imported components was slowing down the development of the crane industry. He suggested that domestic component manufacturers improve their technology and manufacturing processes, and that crane manufacturers should cooperate with them in research and development, to reduce their own reliance on imports.