JAPANESE manufacturers Hitachi and Sumitomo are aiming for global leadership in the crawler crane market by pooling their crane interests.

A new joint venture, 50% owned by each company, will be established on 1 July 2002. It has yet to be given a name or a corporate identity, but it will take over the sales, R&D, production, servicing and customer support activities of both companies’ construction crane (primarily crawler crane) businesses.

Sumitomo’s US subsidiary Link-Belt remains a subsidiary of Sumitomo Heavy Industries and will continue to distribute crawler cranes made by Sumitomo under the Link-Belt brand in North, Central and South America. Elsewhere, however, all cranes will be sold under the new brand ‘by leveraging the strengths of the respective networks of both parties,’ they said in a 22 April statement.

This announcement follows last year’s cooperation agreement between Sumitomo, Hitachi and Tadano. The three companies set up a joint R&D department at Hitachi’s factory in Tsuchiura last October to begin work on common platforms for crawler models. Tadano, whose main interest is mobile cranes rather than crawler cranes, is not part of the new joint venture but will continue to work in alliance with its partners. For example, in February Tadano signed an agreement committing its German subsidiary Tadano Faun to supplying Link-Belt with all terrain cranes for the American market. The ATF 100-5 is now distributed in the Americas by Link-Belt, branded as the Link-Belt ATC-3130, in direct competition with Tadano’s own distribution network.