Dwindling construction markets throughout Southern Europe meant that client turnout was lower at SAIE in Bologna this year. Crane manufacturers felt that this was particularly true for international clients.

Fassi says that SAIE has become an expo mainly for those based in Northern or Central Italy.

"SAIE has become a local fair. It does not have the national position as in the past, " says Giovanni Fassi, owner and managing director of crane manufacturer Fassi.

"Honestly, the market at SAIE is not as international as a few years ago and we lost some international visitors," says Alessandro Soncini, commercial director at crane manufacturer F.lli Ferrari.

The search for markets not touched by crisis has carried Italian hydraulic crane manufacturers to elsewhere in Europe and as far as Asia and the Americas.

Go west

The market has completely changed geographically, says Mauro Baldassin, export manager for Effer.

"From a market totally dominated by Europe with a big part in the south of Europe, the European slice of market is very much reduced now. The emerging markets in Asia and South America are taking a much bigger percentage of the total market," says Baldassin.

Effer began reorganising its sales network to meet these challenges three years ago. "Basically, during the last two to three years we went from a sales network in 30 different counties to export into 45, so you can imagine that the spread of our network is expanding a lot in a very short time. We are really finding a totally new market," says Baldassin.

Fassi says his company’s sales strategy during the crisis has been to expand service points in export markets. "We are developing new markets, but in some of these new markets we have been in for several years, for example in Russia we have been there for a minimum of seven years, and now we are getting a good market performance.

"We also have a new service partner for service points. For example we started in Indonesia," says Fassi.

North America is a market that shows promise for Fassi, which hints at plans to develop new products for clients there.

F.lli Ferrari was founded in 1970 in Boretto in the North of Italy. Since the beginning it has specialised in truckmounted cranes for the worldwide markets, and it continues export today to markets such as the Americas.

Soncini explains, "The main markets this year for F.lli Ferrari were surely Middle East, North America and South America but there are positive signs for market recovery in Europe."

PM Group, maker of truck mounted cranes, has 121 dealerships with markets in North America, Asia, Australia, Russia, South Africa, and exports for logistics.

Sales director for PM Group, Giovanni Tacconi, says, "We are focusing on logistics and general delivery. In the, past, in Europe, we were focusing on construction."

Ten of PM Group’s distributors are in South America, where, says Tacconi, the client tends to go for larger capacity cranes. "At the beginning we didn’t have distributors and we started to operate direct.

"Now, we have two branches and also an installation facility. The benefit is that we can go to the end users, fulfilling their needs, for service, aftersales, and mounting. We have the expertise in this. We have an increasing transport client base mostly in developing countries, in South America, North America and Asia, and in these markets they normally buy larger units.

"My opinion is that when they buy equipment, in general, as there are no strict regulations, they are focused on bigger units that have larger capacity."

"The focus on different models depends on local practices," Tacconi says.

Quality race

While manufacturers cite Americas and Asia as common export markets, manufacturers find that these regions expect Italian quality, and so they export their European-standard cranes.

"We don’t try to decrease the price; we increase the quality. The market is worldwide and you cannot face competitor by being cheaper," says Maurizio Manzini, owner of JMG Cranes.

"The cranes sold in Asia are not very different, but they need to be adapted to the Asian standard, so the cranes are not exactly the same as the ones sold in Europe. But, basically, most of the cranes are of the same quality as the European ones. We do not make a product for emerging markets, we just make a modification to the European model that it is based on," says Baldassin.

One reason for the high standard is that cranes need to stand up to rough jobs. "We don’t want to develop a low quality line for emerging market cranes because we consider those markets as hard working and having work that demands quality. We just want to make the product a little bit simpler than those used in Europe, but keeping the highest quality offered by Effer in steel structure and components," says Baldassin.

In 2013, Fassi also will launch a remote smart-phone based application, SmartApp, which reads a crane’s black box when troubleshooting, backed by live customer service, and can offer data and statistics, such as the crane’s utlisation. "It’s a new kind of service for the customer and probably is a new way to work with the customer," says Fassi. "I think it may be interesting because it allows an opportunity for better service in the field and gains on time."

The system is unique in that it does not require a satellite.

Not just for the EU

Manufacturers say export markets are interested in features that add capacity, so they have designed configurations that give an edge to their newest models.

At SAIE, Effer showed five models featuring a new EUcompliant electronics system called ‘Progress’. It introduced two new continuously slewing cranes, the 30tm range 315 and the 685.

The 315 is in the same family as the 395, earlier this year.

"It’s basically a crane that fits into the high-end market for 30tm with continuous rotation," says Baldassin.

A unique feature on the 315 is a new jib that is useful for roofing applications, Baldassin says.

"A product innovation Effer launched at SAIE was the world première for the new 8.8tm jib for the model 315, made of highstrength Weldox 1300 steel," says Baldassin.

"The new jib is longer by 1.5m compared to the previous one, it’s lighter with a better lifting capacity and powerto- weight ratio than the previous generation of jib that used to be mounted on Effer 305. It’s especailly useful for roofing and building materials," says Baldassin. Early next year Effer expects to complete the new Progress range, from 22t up to 300t.

Another crane maker launching new products to comply with updated EU standards was PM Group. Tacconi says, "We launched four models in our midrange that are completely new designs: 28.5tm, 28.55tm, 30.5tm 38.5tm and 53tm. They are completely new with new electronics. Everybody is using the new range but especially those in logistics, construction, and roofing. It’s everywhere in the world."

F.lli Ferrari is powering up its heavy duty crane with a longer jib, to reach higher up, says Soncini: "At SAIE we launched a completely new model, the 531. It is a 3t-range crane with three telescopic extensions. We also launched a configuration upgrade for the 990R, with a completely new jib. This is a 74tm crane. With the new configuration, we can lift 660kg at 30m."

The company launched a new configuration option for its Model 990, 990RA8J4. By adding more boom segments, it will increase the height available to it. Soncini said, "The model 990RA8J4 has eight segments on the boom and four segments on the jib. The new eight-segment boom will give more vertical reach. Users can reach higher floors or buildings. The eight-segment boom allows 24m vertical height."

The new configuration is an add-on available to use with the other jib configuration on this model, which has six extensions on crane boom plus six extensions on the jib, Ferrari says.

"The main application for the 990RA8J4 is delivering building materials for contractors to install roofs, or for the building itself. This new configuration is matching a lot the customer’s needs: the sales we’ve made, before even the official launch, are proof of that," Soncini says

Fassi showed its expanded light-duty range, which also has a new capacityenhancing feature, if somewhat lower to the ground. Fassi says, "The double linkage system offered by Fassi offers capacity and flexibility to clients who need a crane that can lift indoors, such as farmers.

"The linkage keeps the high capacity at the maximum horizontal outreach. To have the best performance for every position means to gain loading capacity," says Fassi.

Fassi is introducing the double linkage system on its 5-12tm cranes to start out with, but this will become a feature for the remaining model lightduty cranes and mid-range cranes.

JMG was showing the new 6t MC60s. Manzini says, "It’s a unique machine in this field because it’s the only machine at this capacity that has front traction. "

JMG says its new vacuum glass attachment for its 25tm MC25, launched last July, has been successful in export markets like the Americas and Germany as evinced at a recent show in Germany.

"We sold one crane and one crane lifter: both had suction for installing glass panels on supermarkets and skyscrapers. It’s also a crane and you can take the vacuum pads off and put on a winch or whatever you need."

"The MC25 25t has something extra. It’s a crane that can work as a crane and also do glazing, which is definitely interesting for global customers. It reaches up to 6m. That is enough for most glazing. Customers are from the US, from North and South America, Buenos Aires, and Germany."

The MC25’s flexibility for glass applications means that JMG can take it anywhere in the world, Manzini says. "The main point for us is that we are manufacturing a quality product, and especially, a product that is not easy to find somewhere else. This makes the product saleable.

"We don’t see that it’s a problem of crisis, it’s a matter of product, when you manufacture something that is unique or quality. So we can sell it to our neighbours in Italy, or to Australia. It may just be used for hook and fork instead of as a crane".

Have a heavy new year

A heavier truck crane from Fassi is currently in testing, weighing in at 190tm, and could take on the small allterrain market for general lifting work. Fassi expects this model to become available from the beginning of next year.

"We are testing the new big model F1950 RA crane, 190tm, with 14m extension coupled with the jib. This will be Fassi’s highest capacity crane, and have applications such as general plant work," says Fassi.

PM Group is heading in the same direction, beefing up the capacity of its range with its largest model yet.

Tacconi says, "We are increasing the dimension of our range of products, in terms of capacity. The 110tm crane was launched one year ago.

"We are launching a 150tm crane, the largest crane produced by PM group in all of its segments.

"It will be launched in the second half. Probably with some other cranes dedicated to specialty industries like electricity and railways."