Chinese cranes are increasingly being seen in developed markets. As Cranes Today has reported in recent months, towers, mobiles and crawlers from China are all finding distributors and buyers across Europe and Australia. At ConExpo 2008 this spring, Chinese crawler manufacture made their first big public sales push, with crawlers from Zoomlion, Fushun Excavator and Sany all on show.

Canadian XCMG and Sany dealer Rob Mewhinney, of Can-Pick, explains the cranes’ appeal: “The price is better, the delivery time is better (but getting longer), and they will design factory changes for special application at the customer’s request. The cranes are real good, at least as good as what is on the market.”

Fushun Excavator and Zoomlion crawler crane importer Lewis Equipment executive consultant Bill Brandt says the key benefits are “Price, availability and performance. The Fushun is a more basic machine, but neither crane is overly complicated or burdened with excess technology.”

Sany had one of the biggest displays among the Chinese manufacturers, displaying two recently sold crawler cranes alongside a range of other equipment. Sany America mid-western sales manager John L Wilson says, “The two machines on display at ConExpo 2008 (a 250t/275 US t SCC2500, sold to Crane Solutions, and a 150t/165 US t SCC1500, sold to Moody Machinery) were the first two to have been sold in the USA. These first two sales were made in late 2007, and since then interest from distributors and other potential buyers has been higher than expected. Sales now exceed 30 units with additional sales pending.”

Sany hasn’t just been working on bringing cranes to North America though, but also on bringing production to the country. Wilson explains, “Sany’s been active in the US for more than two years. Sany America was set up as a legal entity about a year ago. Two years ago, the early efforts consisted primarily of preliminary market research by the company’s Chinese employees. Sany began working to establish dealerships and recruit crawler crane sales staff in the autumn of 2007.

“Sany’s motto is, ‘Quality changes the world’. Sany is truly a leader in the crawler crane industry, with a major component of senior management’s strategy being globalisation of the company. Sany has plans completed for its new production centre in the US [building a range of construction equipment and components] and will begin construction of this facility later this summer.

“The construction site that has been purchased for building [in Peachtree, Georgia, USA] is about 180 acres [about 73 hectares]. The development is planned over five stages of construction. Architectural designs have been approved internally, and we’re now in the process of securing final governmental approvals. We expect to begin manufacturing at our new US facility in the first quarter of 2010, with approximately 200 employees. The initial construction plans call for the first two stages of the five stage project to be completed concurrently.

“We will have solid after-sales service. We already have a small depot for high turnover parts in place in Georgia, and it is backed-up by Sany’s strong after-sales network in China. Our facility in Peachtree City will become the major supplier of replacement parts for North America.

“Sany America’s plans are to set up a traditional dealer network in the US. We’ve signed dealer agreements with M D Moody and Sons, of Jacksonville, Florida, and Crane Solutions of Savannah, Georgia, and a third dealer in Houston, Texas.”

Sany will start off by selling its small to mid-range crawler models in North America. Wilson says, “We’re selling crawlers from 50t (55 US t) through 400t (440 US t) at the moment. We’ll be adding the 630t (694 US t) SCC6300 and the new 900t (992 US t) SCC9000 next year, with a 1250t (1,377 US t) model coming in 2010. We have or will obtain ANSI/ASME B30.5 approval for each of the models sold in the US. Sany’s management directives state that wherever in the world we market our products, we will be in full compliance with local regulations and standards.

“The SCC6300 and SCC9000 are new models and have not yet been Americanised, which is why they won’t be available until next year. In every market, there are subtle but important differences. So, for example, US imperial measurements will replace Chinese (and European) metric measurements on LMIs and load charts. The signage and control labels will need to be familiar and in-line with the standards of North American users.”

Another North American dealer, Can-Pick of Canada, will also be selling Sany crawlers, in Canada and parts of the US. Can-Pick first got into Chinese crane imports with a deal with XCMG subsidiary Intensus Engineering, to import XCMG mobiles. Owner Rob Mewhinney says, “We are based in Canada but have US locations as well. Most of our mobile sales have been in the USA and the customers are very happy with the Chinese product.

“We have four SCC2500s (250t) on order, the first to be here in June and an SCC 4000W. We will be offering 50t, 80t, 100t, 150t, 200t, 250t, 320t, 400t, 630t, and 900t (55 US t through to 992 US t) models, and are working on 1,200t (1,320 US t) and 1,600t (1,760 US t) models. We have sold all the machines on order so far, except for one we are keeping for ourselves.”

The SCC 4000W is a 400t (440 US t) special model, designed for use in the wind turbine installation industry. Mewhinney worked closely with Sany on the development of the new design. He says, “The SCC 4000W is a special design for erecting wind turbines. It will have a special wind tip and no super lift. The SCC 6200 and SCC 9000 were also designed with wind turbines in mind”

As well as the Sany crawlers, Mewhinney is importing crawlers from his mobile crane supplier, XCMG. Mewhinney says, “We will be bringing the 100t (110 US t),150t (165 US t), 220t (242 US t), and 260t (260 US t) models.”

As with Sany America, Can-Pick has worked with its Chinese suppliers to make sure the imported crawlers are suitable for North American users. For example, Mewhinney says, “The SCC2500 has a wider cab, pendant straps instead of cables, and more North American components instead of European ones, so that it is easier to get parts.”

Mewhinney’s customers, for both brands, will be getting aftersales support in North America. He says, “Sany has parts and aftersales in the USA now and will be building booms here next year. They are taking the aftersales very serious and have spent a lot of time and money on the programme. XCMG will have parts and service people in both Canada and USA”

Another US dealer is importing Chinese crawlers, Lewis Equipment of Grand Praire, Texas. The company has an established business selling and leasing all types of cranes, including mobiles and towers from Chinese manufacturers including Zoomlion and Fushun Yongmao. As Cranes Today reported last month, the company has just started importing Fushun Yongmao tower cranes into Australia.

In the US, it is working with two Chinese manufacturers to bring their crawlers into the country. From Zoomlion, it will be bringing in 70t (77 US t), 100t (110 US t), 200t (220 US t), 260t (286 US t) and 400t (440 US t) models. The firm says that these are all available now, except for the 400t model. The company had a Zoomlion crawler on its stand at ConExpo 2008, the 260t QUY 260.

Also on display at the Las Vegas show were two Fushun Excavator Corporation (no relation to local rivals Fushun Yongmao) crawlers in Lewis Equipment colours, on Fushun Excavator’s own stand. The Chinese firm showed a 250t (275 US t) QUY 250, with pendant back straps, and a 120t (132 US t) QUY 120, with wire rope back straps.

Brandt says a few issues remain to be sorted out, but that the deals are well underway, “We are working on some small fine tuning issues to help the cranes for the North American market, including the application of Tier 3 Cummins diesels.” Similar small changes need to be made to complete the Americanisation of the cranes: “No design changes,” Brandt says, “Just load charts and cosmetic stuff.”

Brandt says that Lewis will be handling the aftersales, working through its distributors. The company likes the cranes so much, it is holding up its own sales supply chain. Brandt says, “We are actively leasing the cranes in our rental fleet. We have had such good success that the sales to our distributor network have been held up while we finish filling out our own rental fleet.”

In recent months, it’s been easy to see the beginnings of a battle between US crane builders for sales in the booming Chinese market. Maybe, as cheap, available, and easy-to-use Chinese cranes start to pour into North America, local manufacturers will need to turn their attention to a battle closer to home?