Harri Ahola knows better than to foretell the future, even if he has got a pretty good idea of where the industry is at, and where it might go. “We’re closing the business cycle,” he says. “When I joined the company there had just been a drop but we continued upwards; now we hope to do the same.”

Cargotec’s orders received grew 31% during the first quarter of 2010 year-onyear, although sales declined 18%.

Orders received totalled €598m, compared to €456m in the first quarter of 2009. Cargotec’s Industrial & Terminal segment saw orders received climb from €361m in Q1 2009 to €415m, while the Marine segment saw orders received increase from €96m to €183m, equivalent to 91% growth.

However, Cargotec’s order book saw a decline of €533m from €2,772m in Q1 2009, to €2,239m in Q1 2010. The Q1 2010 figure includes €26m of previously received, but now cancelled, orders for the Marine segment, which have been removed from the order book. In addition, its management estimates that the current order book includes €300m of Marine orders, ‘which bear a risk of cancellation’.

Cargotec reported its Q1 2010 results inline with its new business structure, including two reporting segments Industrial & Terminal, comprising former Hiab and Kalmar businesses, and Marine, comprising former MacGregor business.

The company recently announced the creation of a third business area, Services, which will focus on developing one, integrated service organisation for all Cargotec businesses.

Staff have been trained to service both Hiab and Kalmar brands, allowing the company to increase the reach of its aftersales service, thus, in places where it only has Hiab service staff, customers can now get Kalmar cranes serviced.

For example, DCT Gdansk, the Polish container and ro-ro terminal facility, recently increased its handling capabilities with the order of two Kalmar E-One2 rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes. These will most likely be serviced by Cargotec.

“After-sales and service are part of our long-term plan. For several years, we’ve been increasing our focus on service, before the downturn in the market. Traditionally, service had been organized locally; now, we’re integrating service across the company.

That means we can reach further, and do more to use our organisation across the company. “It’s been a cornerstone of the group to have a ‘One Company’ operating model. We’re utilising the service capacity the company has, and harmonising the company internally.

“For the customer, that means we can offer a global presence. For example, in some countries, we might not have had a Kalmar presence, but Hiab was there and cooperation can be found.

“Customers can still order Kalmar or Hiab products because the brands are strong, but products will probably be serviced by Cargotec. The feedback we’ve had has been positive but it has gone largely unnoticed by customers.”

Ahola says it is “not black and white” that it is reducing manufacturing in Finland, and increasing it in Eastern Europe and Asia; they are planning to transform a plant at Tampere in Finland into an R&D centre, and are opening what he calls ‘multi assembly units’ in lower labour cost countries.

It’s arguable that the firm makes use of workers in developed markets like Finland by having them work on development of new products, and can get cranes assembled cheaper in markets like Poland and China.

The truth, Ahola admits, is that the recession shaped the structure of the business.

“We’ve reduced our presence in Finland because we are a global company, but we’re redeveloping in Asia, which has huge potential. We have to be present everywhere and, practically, it’s easier to do that with our One Company operating model.

“The speed and severity of the downturn meant we had to restructure. We closed two factories and changed our global print. It was a combination of recession measures and strategic restructuring.”

Recent financial results highlighted a ‘tentative recovery’ in both Europe and the US in areas other than constructionrelated customer segments, which led to increased demand for loader cranes.

“There has been improvement in the load handling field; the downward trend has stopped. Global Insight, for example, say truck registration is improving. We are at the moment introducing numerous new features and technological solutions for Hiab cranes, all of which have been implemented in compliance with the new Machinery Directive and crane standard EN12999:2009. In addition, we’re focussed on Cargotec purchasing power, multi-tasking people and our ongoing project to train people.”