Loads of potential

25 May 2022


Despite a backdrop of uncertainty positive financial results abound prompting some loader crane manufacturers to expand to capitalise on demand. Cranes Today reports.

The truck mounted loader crane market is on the up. According to a recent study from market research firm Graphical Research, the global truck loader crane market size is set to register significant growth through to 2027.

Breaking this down, it estimates the market value will be greater than one billion dollars in Europe, over $700 million in the Asia Pacific region, and in excess of $600 million in North America. But what underpins such buoyant predictions?

The research company identifies a whole host of reasons – from increased forestry and mining activities in Europe to a surge of demand from the oil and gas sectors in Asia Pacific. It also claims the development, and subsequent demand, for heavy-duty truck loader cranes with greater lifting capacities in both Europe and North America will continue. Financial results from Danish loader crane manufacturer HMF certainly support indicate the market is on the up. It said its 2021 results exceeded its expectations reaching a record-breaking turnover of DKK 1.1 billion. At the same time the company turned a deficit in 2020 (DKK -3.8 million) into a profit (DKK 85 million). According to CFO Klaus Skov Mortensen, the good result is mainly due to high activity in most markets.

Based on the positive order intake of 2021, HMF says its order book has grown significantly. It expects continued growth in 2022, budgeting for a turnover in the range of DKK 1.1- 1.2 billion despite the high degree of uncertainty related to global supply chains and geopolitical conditions. HMF identifies this uncertainty coming from further price increases on everything from raw materials to energy, extended delivery times for key components and truck chassis, and a shortage of available vehicle body building capacity.

STRONG SUPPLY CHAINS

"In many ways, we are facing a year of great unpredictability,” says Jens Seehusen, the company’s CEO, who has been with HMF since August 2021. “What is happening in Ukraine? Will there be more Covid-19 waves? What will happen with the global supply chains? These are all things we take into account when forecasting and planning for the coming year. But we have strong supply chains at HMF and no operations in neither Russia nor Ukraine. What we do have, however, is a continual increasing demand for HMF's truck cranes and a full order book well into 2022. That’s why we believe in a strong year."

2022 has started well for HMF already. March was a record month for the crane manufacturer with a record number of loader cranes being produced from its factory in Højbjerg. It says a similarly increased production rate is expected for the rest of the year as well.

The company is now planning to build a new headquarters in Denmark, consolidating its Højbjerg (administration and production) and Galten (production, service and vehicle construction) sites which will be closed and sold off.

PORTFOLIO EXPANSION

Other truck mounted crane manufacturers are looking to make the most of the positive market by expanding their portfolios.

Japanese manufacturer Tadano, for example, has just launched a new truck loader crane series, the TM-ZX1200, for international markets. The TM-ZX1200 series offers three truck loader crane lines, HRS, HS, and MH. All three have a maximum outrigger width of 5.5 metres, larger than the 3.9m of conventional eight tonne capacity cargo cranes and 5.2m of the 10t class, Tadano points out. The maximum crane capacity is 22tm, largest in its class. Both the wide outriggers and increased capacity greatly improve lifting performance compared to previous models in the same class, says Tadano.

Yuichiro Yamada, assistant manager at Tadano’s Strategic Sales department said that these functions and enhancements reflect the needs of its users, “The wider outrigger base improves stability of the crane, which in turn improves the performance at larger working radius. Also, the safety devices aim to support work in the field where safety standards are strict.”

The HRS and HS lines feature AML with Safety Eyes designed to provide a greater degree of vision and control for the operator. The HRS specification adds a colour LCD radio controller that displays the lifted load, which allows changing of the operation position even when visibility would otherwise be poor in the conventional operation position.

The MH model is more economically spec’d, said Tadano, in order to appeal to a wide range of customers. It includes hook-in and anti-two-block device functionality and Tadano said it is a very reliable machine indeed.

The HRS model has a basket mode and a support mount for the basket at the tip of the boom so that it can be used for aerial work. The wider outrigger width also leads to a larger working radius in basket mode.

Tadano said the 12t maximum lifting capacity is a completely new range for its truck loader cranes – and so bridges the gap between its 10t/15tm TM-ZX1000 and 15t/30tm TM-ZX1500 series models.

Significant time and research has gone into developing the TM-ZX1200 line, said Tadano.

“The TM-ZX1200HRS/ HS’s product concept was to provide high safety and workability,” explained Satoshi Hirota, who works in Tadano’s Lifting Equipment Development Department. “For that purpose, it was necessary to adopt the Safety Eyes control, which is installed in the latest domestic models.”

Safety Eyes is designed to monitor the overturning momentum during work and stops once predetermined momentum is reached regardless of cargo presence in the trucks. Lifting capacity is also reduced when truck cargo loads are low to avoid tipping over. In effect, the Safety Eyes control allows the crane to lift more when the truck is loaded with cargo, taking advantage of the added stability.

Increasing the maximum outrigger width to 5.5m also helped with stability when the vehicle is empty. Other major structures such as booms, posts, and frames were also newly designed, said Tadano, with shape being optimised through repeated numerical analysis, durability tests, and improvements in construction methods.

Tadano said its R&D team worked in cooperation with its manufacturing plants to develop and analyse these improvements, resulting in what it calls its ‘first lightweight yet high-strength post with a pentagonal cross-section’.

Following field tests Tadano said it is implementing further improvements, including a slewing cover that can be attached and detached without tools and a boom that allows easier inspection of the built-in wire ropes for extension and contraction. Both advancements are currently under development.

Tadano is also continuing tests on developing high-speed operation, fine movement positioning, and improved operability that feels safe, smooth, and stress-free.

Hyva, a manufacturer of hydraulic loading and unloading systems for trucks and trailers, has also extended its line-up of truck mounted loader cranes with the introduction of a 40 tonne-metre class to its range of Edge Line cranes.

There are five models in the new class comprising three rack and pinion and two endless slewing models. The rack and pinion models are the HC 401, the HC 401 K, and HC 441, while the endless slewing models are the HC 405e and HC 445e.

The cranes have between two to eight extensions, providing outreaches between 8.02 to 20.90 metres. A ten-metre jib is available, although not for the K-boom version.

The HC 401 has a rating of 40 tm and a 430 degree slewing angle. The short boom version of this crane, the HC 401 K, also has a 40tm rating and a 430 degree slewing angle.

The HC 441 is rated at 44 tm, has a 430 degree slewing angle and comes with Hyva’s Proportional Lift Control System (P-LCS).

For the endless slewing models, the HC 405e is rated at 40 tm, while the HC 445e is rated at the higher 44tm and also comes with the Proportional Lift Control System (P-LCS).

All cranes come with a three-year general warranty and a five-year warranty on structural parts.

All the cranes come with articulated stabiliser feet, designed to provide greater stability and a longer cylinder life, and a Stability Control System. Hoses and pipes run inside the stabiliser beams – also to extend their lifetime. Extra Extension Speed (EES), designed to safely increase the speed of extensions, also comes as standard, along with a Smooth De-scent system (SDS) to reduce oscillation and increase control, a Liftrod Articulated system (LAS), designed to improve versatility in different working positions, plus soft closing retraction to reduce oscillation of the load during retraction. The cranes are also supplied with a centralised greasing system to aid regular maintenance, a high-pressure filter, manual control with a wide range of radio controls.

In addition, the new range includes: a Magic Touch (MT) function that allows the driver to stow or unstow the crane ready for work at the touch of a button; Dynamic Load Diagram (DLD) which is designed to optimise stabilisation and allow the driver to verify in advance the crane lifting capacity based on truck stability; plus a DLD Simulator which shows the operator the possible working area for different scenarios of load and stabiliser extension be-fore use.

A new feature, Connectivity 4.0, which incorporates an internet connection to a Cloud where all relevant operation and maintenance data is stored is available in certain markets.

A wide range of available attachments makes the series well suited to a variety of applications, Hyva added.

“We are proud to add this new range of 40tm cranes to our Edge Line,” commented Giuseppe Bevacqua, product manager cranes. “High performance levels, together with a wide range of innovative features and variety of accessories and attachments, make these cranes ideally suited to many applications from construction to logistics, oil and gas to mining, maintenance and rental.”

The Edge Line is produced at Hyva’s new dedicated crane assembly line in Poviglio, Italy.

The company was founded in the Netherlands in 1979 and today has 12 production facilities across China, India, Brazil and Europe. It has also recently further extended its reach with the acquisition of Truck Cranes Australia (TCA), a move it says will provides a platform for growth in Queensland region.

Hyva has acquired all assets of TCA’s assets and, as TCA is positioned in proximity to Port Brisbane and strategic business partners, Hyva says the deal gives it a good platform for expansion in the Queensland market

Established in 1991, TCA, has been a F.lli Ferrari Cranes Dealer since 2008 and added Hyva Container Handling equipment to its offering in 2012. It is also Queensland dealer for Tadano stiff boom cranes, Loadmac truck-mounted forklifts, and is a specialist in the installation of ROPS (Roll Over Protection Structure) for mining vehicles. According to Hyva, TCA has a fully equipped workshop and a strong reputation for all brands of used cranes and ten-year major inspections of cranes.

Hyva added that the workshop and customer base provide an excellent platform for the continued growth of Hyva Pacific by building on existing lines and adding new Hyva product lines including tipping solutions, waste handling, skiploaders, and truck and trailer accessories.

RENTAL ACQUISITION

Illinois, USA-headquartered Manitex International is also expanding via acquisition; the company, which owns PM Group loader cranes – plus other brands including Manitex, Oil & Steel, Badger, and Valla, is moving into the rental sector with the acquisition of 70% of Rabern Rentals, of Amarillo, Texas, for $25.9 million.

Rabern Rentals is a regional provider of industrial equipment rentals with four locations throughout Texas and 2021 revenues of approximately $21.5 million, EBITDA of $8 million, and a fleet of more than 1,700 machines serving a range of end-markets, specialising in commercial construction.

The acquisition is being financed through a new US-based $85 million credit facility which enhances the company's ability to deploy its resources, globally. The credit facility is with Amarillo National Bank and provided the funds for the Rabern acquisition and working capital facilities for both the Manitex and Rabern business. Following the closing of this trans-action, Manitex has a working capital facility providing $70 million in cash and borrowing capacity, further strengthening Manitex's financial position to support future growth. The company will have $35-$40 million in total liquidity upon close.

"The addition of Rabern provides an immediate and impactful boost to our margins, effectively doubling our annualised EBITDA run-rate based on 2021 results," commented Joe Doolan, the company's Chief Financial Officer."Rabern's rental fleet of equipment is complimentary, to our own product lines but does not overlap Manitex's current products. It is a great fit for our overall objective of pursuing profitable and sustainable growth for Manitex. With a reported backlog of $189 million as of December 31, 2021, bookings have continued to grow thus far in 2022 reaching over $200 million as of March 31, 2022. We are looking for another year of continued growth across each of our businesses.”

For Manitex’s PM brand, a key account last year was the $1.7 million contract win in follow-on orders to supply knuckleboom cranes to an international military entity. Production started in the second half of 2021.

Manitex has also announced the appointment of Michael Coffey as Chief Executive Officer of Manitex International, Inc., effective April 11, 2022. He replaces Steve Filipov who will continue to work with the company in an advisory capacity.

Coffey joins Manitex International with more than 25 years’ experience, primarily in rentals and manufacturing and operations management in heavy equipment, from general construction to mining, and other specialised industry niches.

Also utilising financing to build on positive results last year is Austrian hydraulic lifting, loading and handling systems manufacturer Palfinger. The company took out its first sustainable financing in March 2022 to secure a volume of EUR 170 million.

Palfinger says the conditions are highly attractive with a term of up to six years with an amortising structure. The financing is also subject to two sustainability KPIs: production-related CO2 emissions and accident rate. The achievement of sustainability KPIs is audited annually, with a margin step-up/down if the target values are reached or are not achieved. Erste Group and Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) acted as sustainability coordinators.

Palfinger said 2021 was a record year in its 90-year history, with a revenue of EUR 1.84 billion and a record consolidated result of EUR 86.6 million.

It said almost all regions and product lines showed new order intake records. The strong demand was mainly due to the positive development of the construction, forestry and recycling industries. Long-term infrastructure packages and increasing investments in housing projects are driving the positive trend in the construction industry, Palfinger added.

When its 2021 results were released Palfinger said it was aiming for revenues of EUR 2.0 billion for the 2022 fiscal year; it has now revised this in, however, light of the Ukraine crisis due to its volume of business in Russia. The crisis also further intensifies the availability problems of trucks and components, the company said. As a result, it now thinks its EBIT in 2022 will be significantly below the EBIT achieved in 2021.

Whatever the rest of the year may bring, though, the future looks positive for many truck-mounted loader crane manufacturers. With increasing demand from a wide range of applications (construction, logistics, oil and gas, mining, maintenance, rental, forestry, military and recycling are all referenced in this article) the potential of the sector is clear.

The TM-ZX1200: Tadano’s new truck loader crane series for international markets
Hyva has added a 40 tonne-metre class to its Edge Line range
HMF’s management team pleased with the company’s record turnover in 2021