WHILE most in the tower crane industry in Southeast Asia are struggling to stay in business, start-up manufacturer Jost Cranes appears to be brimming with confidence. It has commissioned its first cranes in Singapore, got clearance to start manufacturing in China and developed plans for rental businesses in China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Jost Cranes was founded in 2000 by German designer Franc Jost with former BKT agents in Malaysia. Franc Jost had previously designed a total of 45 crane models for Peiner, Noell, BKT and Comedil (Just Jost Jul 01, p33) Jost Cranes has now delivered and commissioned four level luffing floating dock cranes to Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd. The Malaysian-built cranes are JL 243.16 models which lift 4.7t at 50m radius. Maximum capacity is 16t.

All four cranes are installed on a floating dock with permissible maximum inclination, relative to the waves and tide, of 0.5° in service and 2.5° when out of service. Frequency control electronics coordinate hoisting and luffing functions to maintain the horizontal level of loads when luffing.

Franc Jost said that he designed the cranes with maintenance needs in mind, allowing access to the counter jib and the slewing part. An all-in-one central control panel box contains all electronics, frequency inverters, memory modules, inclination management system and power distribution. A special lightning protection system has been incorporated to protect the control system from power surges.

As required by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower in that location, the JL 243 cranes are fitted with an anti-collision system.

‘Jost Cranes has big plans for Asia and South America,’ said Franc Jost. ‘We have received enquires from South Korea, India, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Latin America. We are on the verge of finalising a venture in South America for the engineering and production of our 350tm to 600tm topless range with maximum lifting capacity of 20t. We have made some competitive proposals for specific enquires from Korea and China for tower cranes rated around 800tm and 2,200tm respectively.’

He added that Jost Cranes has also incorporated a company in Shenyang, China and has obtained a manufacturing licence from the Chinese authorities. ‘The factory in Malaysia will run concurrently with China production, optimising inventories and production cost,’ Franc Jost said.

As well as manufacturing, Jost plans to enter the rental business. The company is in talks with a Chinese group about setting up a rental fleet in China and there are plans for a rental fleet of 300tm-plus flat top towers in Malaysia and Singapore. The rental market in Malaysia and Singapore is weak today, with rates just a third of what they were five years ago, but Franc Jost expressed confidence that there would be an upturn.

‘There is a growing demand for tower crane rental in Malaysia and Singapore. We foresee rental rates improving soon,’ he said.

  ‘The Malaysian government has set aside billions of Ringgits in funds for relocation and rural development. The most prominent projects are the Northern second link bridge and the recently revived Bakun hydro-electric dam in East Malaysia.’

He added: ‘We are optimistic that 2002 will be a good year ahead.’