The two major Asian construction shows at the end of 2014, bC India and Bauma China, were used by Manitowoc to launch two new Potain topless tower cranes, the MCT 205 and MCT 85. The two cranes have been designed with the needs of users in countries like India and China in mind.

They also demonstrate increasing internationalisation in Potain’s tower crane production. Rather than a Chinese tower crane built in Zhanjiagang, or an Indian crane built in Pune, these new cranes will be truly international, with the same cranes being built at both of these plants, and at the company’s Passofundo, Brazil, plant.

Cranes Today spoke to Thibaut Le Besnerais, global product director, Potain, at Bauma China, just after the new cranes’ launch. Le Besnerais says, "From here, from Zhangjiagang, we will target all of Asia area, except for India, where we will build cranes at Pune."

These long established Asian plants aren’t the end of the story for the internationalisation of Potain production. Soon, Manitowoc’s Brazilian plant, built from scratch and currently focussing on wheeled mobiles, will begin tower crane production.

"We’re trying to extend our manufacturing footprint to be as close as possible to the end market. At the end of this year, we will start to produce the MCT 85 at Passofundo. There may be some slight differences, in terms of raw materials available. Some dimensions of tubes and metal sheet may be different, but they will be interchangeable and will keep the main characteristics of the crane."

The MCT 85 hits a global sweet spot in terms of reach and capacity. Le Besnerais says, "In this part of the world, the market we serve from Zhangjiagang, an 85tm crane is the main crane. It’s a small crane for Europe, but here [in Asia] and in Latin America, altogether in this segment, it’s the most popular crane worldwide."

It’s a capacity class that Liebherr is also targeting. At bC India, the company showed its locally built 85tm tower, the 85 EC-B 5i. Like the new Potains, the Liebherr is topless. Liebherr’s David Griffin says, "The model here is manufactured in Pune. It’s established around the world. What’s unique to India, is that it’s sold mainly as an internal climber. The typical residential projects have a small footprint. Positioning the crane in the lift shaft gives good coverage over a 50m radius."

Linden-Comansa has also been building its business in Asia and other new markets over recent years, through a joint venture, Comansa Jie. Increasingly, the company is bringing European levels of technology to its Asian cranes, helping it appeal to its target highend customers.

Martin Echevarria, sales director, Linden Comansa, explains that Linden Comansa has slowly been transferring technology to the joint venture. On show at Bauma China, for example, was a 6t crane with Comansa Jie branding, the CJ132. But, coming soon, will be new LC branded cranes, in 8t, 10t and 12t capacity classes. These new cranes, Echevarria says, will not just follow LC naming conventions, but include the company’s Powerlift system, which by slowing hoisting speeds when needed, decreases dynamic loading and boosts available capacity on the load chart. Powerlift was included for the first time on the CJ132 in Shanghai, and will be standard on the new LC cranes when they are launched.

The days of Western manufacturers being the sole foreign investors in emerging markets are long gone, across the economy. Increasingly, Chinese manufacturers are not just selling cranes to local users in countries like India, but working with partners and local subsidiaries to develop and build cranes targeting these markets.

XCMG bought German-owned concrete specialist Schwing Stetter in the summer of 2012. The new subsidiary is a market leader in India, and has now worked with its parent to develop a new crane targeting Indian users, launched at bC India.

Schwing Stetter India managing director VG Sakthikumar says, "Tower cranes fit the XCMG Schwing Stetter business. The crane launched here is the 5t, and we’ll be launching the 6t. The specifcations were drawn up by India, using our research with Indian customers. "The prototype was developed in Chna, and going forward, the first production in India will be the mast. We’ll then start fabricating the jib and, subsequently, the other components in India.

"We received more than 30 enquires over the first two days of bC India."

XCMG’s fellow Chinese multiline crane builder Zoomlion has had a partnership established in India since the 2013 bC India. At this year’s show, Electromech’s managing director Tushar Mehendale updated Cranes Today on the progress the joint venture has made:

"Pilot production of tower cranes has started now in Pune. Currently we’re doing the 5013 and 5610, both 5t models, in India, all 5t. And we have plans to increase our product range. Soon we’ll have 8t, 10t, 12t in our locally built portfolio. "We know what a crane is, we know structural fabrication. So it’s no big deal to start manufacturing. As far as Indians are concerned, we are local. And Zoomlion have very well-established manufacturing processes in place. Both of us talk the same language of fabrication.

The tower cranes are a more standardised process, which helps cut short the production time. The welding processes are the same, whether it’s a box process or a lattice. All components at for the top kit are coming from Zoomlion in China, with all fabrication in India."

While Zoomlion and XCMG look to build at least some components in India, Chinese high-capacity specialist Yongmao builds all its cranes at home in its new modern factory in Fushan, but works with Singaporean partner Tat Hong and customers around the world to build global quality cranes.

Sun Tian, general manager, says, "We have had a rental partnership [in China] with Tat Hong since five years ago. We see them as a good strategic partner with good vision and a good strategy in rental. And they see us as a good producer for cranes.

"We have done very well in Singapore, we’ve sold close to 200 units, mostly 18t: for us that’s the medium for our range, for others its the biggest.

"We moved into the new factory two years ago. Now we want to make use of its full potential. We introduced new machining equipment and robotic cutting and welding. This is ongoing. Now only 10% of production is using robotics, but we plan to increase this to 20- 30%"