Stuart Anderson: Overall, in the medium to long term, do you see global rough terrain crane demand continuing to grow?
Ingo Schiller: Definitely yes. Originally, the popularity of the rough terrain crane concept was driven by demand in the North American market and internationally by the influence of US contractors and project managers. Gradually this led to its broader international acceptance, which is still growing as users in emerging markets recognize its merits over other types of cranes.

SA: How do you see the threat of the Chinese entry into the rough terrain market?
IS: We are watching this closely. We like competition. Having said that we are not encountering the Chinese cranes in many markets. Right now it’s more smoke than fire.

SA:During the past two difficult years, have market prices for rough terrain cranes kept pace with increased manufacturing costs?
IS: Yes, although prices have not increased beyond the material cost increases as demand has recovered.

SA:The growth in demand for larger-sized rough terrains has been impressive but what do you think is the future for the smaller 25-40USt rough terrains?
IS: We believe that the smaller end of the line will continue to exist, at least for the next few years. We don’t see these machines being replaced by other types for crane in the way that articulated boom truck-mounts have replaced small truck cranes.

SA: Having pioneered the multi-axle rough terrain crane concept with the four-axle 165USton (150t) RT 1650 back in 1982, Grove has stuck to the traditional two-axle rough terrain concept in all its models up to and including the latest 150USt RT 9150E. What are your views of the multi-axle RT today?
IS: We recognize that there is a place and an opportunity for multi-axle rough terrains, but first and foremost we produce rough terrain cranes to specifications that meet the demands of our customers. The vast majority of customers continue to want to maintain the compactness and minimum footprint of the rough terrain crane, combined of course with optimum lifting capacity and maximum boom length.

SA: There is increased emphasis amongst some crane manufacturers on fuel economy and reduced emissions. What are the product development priorities at Grove?
IS: It’s difficult to make claims of what’s number 1 or number 2 as this varies amongst regions of use. Some of these features are "nice to have" rather than "must have" which remain lifting capacity, reach, compactness, quality, value and of course global product support.

SA: Grove pioneered the 80, 100, 130 and 150USt rough terrain classes. Do you see the size of rough terrains continuing to grow?
IS: Yes, we see this trend continuing. We see it going upwards.

SA: In which global markets have you seen most sales growth?
IS: Prior to the recent geo-political developments, demand for Grove cranes in North Africa was particularly impressive. Also the increased acceptance of rough terrains in Brazil is really a pleasure. In the past Brazilian customers relied heavily on truck and all terrain cranes but recently there has been a ‘cultural switch’ in favour of RT cranes – particularly in the 50-to-100-ton classes.

SA: Given the success of your rough terrain manufacturing operations in Niella, Italy and the emergence of Chinese production, do you see the rough terrain market justifying further expansions of global product sourcing?
IS: Yes we do see increased localization of production so that regional markets can be better served. A case in point is our new Brazilian manufacturing operations, which will start-up this summer. There we will be initially producing our 65, 80 and 90-ton rough terrain.

SA: Mr. Schiller, many thanks.