C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features, New Zealand, Products

Is XCMG the future for the crane industry?

CANZ ex-president Scott McLeod talks about his visit to the XCMG crane manufacturing factory.

CANZ past president and life member, Scott McLeod, discusses his overseas trip where he witnessed the XCMG crane factory up close and personal for the first time, revealing some key takeaways from the quality of the manufacturing process. 

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Ask Scott McLeod how his trip to China was, and the answer provided is very illustrative.

Receiving the chance to visit Shanghai for the first time in his life, he described entering the city as “stepping into the future”, thanks to the omnipresence of technology and vivacity surrounding him.

However, flying over on January 21 this year with a mixed entourage from Australia and New Zealand, the owner of McLeod Cranes was not just there for tourism reasons. After hearing the stories of an affordable, quality manufacturer on the East of the map, the brunt of his four days was spent touring the Xuzhou-based factory of the XCMG crane division – and what he saw completely altered his perspective on the status quo in the crane  market.

“Prior to this trip, XCMG’s reputation had preceded them, for me,” he said. “After this trip, XCMG has established itself as a brand to watch closely in the  future.”

Currently, Scott runs a fleet of 32 cranes, featuring brands such as Grove, Liebherr, and Demag, with the maximum capacities of his machines ranging from three tonnes through to 350 tonnes. Before 2005, the year he joined the crane hire company his father started back in 1996, Scott worked as a computer programmer, working in the Royal New Zealand Navy and overseas as a radio-fitter. Since joining the crane hire industry 18 years ago, Scott has enjoyed a decorated career in an industry he says he’s gotten “right involved in”, including joining the Crane Association of New Zealand, becoming the president of CANZ, serving on the executive committee for a total of nine years, and eventually becoming a life member in 2021.

At the top of his career achievements are his recognitions and awards, such as receiving two ‘outstanding contributions’ trophies for his contributions toward the crane industry, and winning two awards from New Zealand Health and Safety for lift planning, fall protection, three points of contact and a manual on transporting casing. For Scott, these awards are, simply put, “quite humbling”.

“It’s really humbling to be given these awards,” he says. “What’s more, they’ve all come from people you work alongside all the time and bodies who are investing so much in safety.”

What Scott’s expansive résumé in the crane industry amounts to is that, when he says something is quality, he is going to be very accurate with what he’s saying. And, for him, the machinery being produced from the XCMG crane division is rapidly catching up – in his view, maybe only two to three generations behind  opposition.

“Throughout the tour, we visited the tower crane factory, the mobile crane factory, and the crawler crane factory,” he said. “I’ve got three points of reference to compare them to in my life: factory tours with Kato, Liebherr and Demag. Everything that I saw from XCMG’s factory was on par with what I’ve seen  overseas.”

A key aspect of the manufacturing process of XCMG’s cranes is its highly automated, efficient production line. Helping to manufacture the cranes are hundreds of robots delivering precision welding as well as assembly throughout the entirety of the process. What this results in is cheaper labour costs and the capacity to produce more machines than ever, providing a key point of difference in a crane market plagued by rising costs due to inflation, and lengthy wait times for machines to be delivered. For Scott and the entourage, witnessing the mobile crane assembly line in action and the resulting number of machines is stock in the yard was something they’d “never seen before”, labelling the production line as “modern, and fast”.

“When we were there, we were literally watching a new crane go from a chassis through a production line that was producing a new mobile crane every 25 minutes,” he said. “Outside in the yard, there were hundreds upon hundreds of stock cranes waiting to be distributed – it was an unfathomable number of cranes.”

CANZ ex-president Scott McLeod talks about his visit to the XCMG crane manufacturing factory.
McLeod Cranes services the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions.
Image: Scott McLeod/McLeod Cranes

Witnessing the assembly line was just one aspect of the tour for Scott, however. Receiving the chance to inspect the cranes up close and personal, the welding of the booms on the crawler cranes was something that really stood out for the entourage in tandem with the practicality and user-friendly interface featured on the 60-tonne all-terrain crane. In the brief glimpse he received, Scott believes the technology in the cranes is  improving.

“You can see XCMG is working hard to make everything simple to use and intuitive,” he said. “In conjunction with more affordable cranes and shorter lead times, XCMG cranes are an option I’m going to need to have a close look at.”

The trip overseas to witness the manufacturing processes at XCMG is something that the company is openly offering to any potential customers or keen onlookers. Just last year, ANZ Crane Manager, Stephen Broomfield, took distributors Ronco and D&D Diesel on a trip, followed by another one to oversee the manufacturing of Boom Logistics’ new crawler crane. As Stephen says, anyone who’s willing to come overseas and have a look at the manufacturing process is “more than welcome to”, saying that XCMG is open to being as transparent as possible, such is the company-held-view that its cranes can match it with anyone.

“We are committed to growing and developing the XCMG product line in the Australasian market with detailed, comprehensive post-sale service and support,” he said. “We’re delivering European standard cranes that meet upcoming ADR requirements to Australia and New Zealand at commercial prices that have never been seen before.”

And so, for Scott McLeod, one of New Zealand’s most respected figures in the crane industry, who previously bought into the reputation preceding the XCMG product and has previously sworn by the established, European manufacturers, there was one, overwhelming takeaway from his venture into the futuristic setting in China.

“It’s evident to anyone who sees the cranes up close,” he said, “that the XCMG product is catching up with the other brands, and it’s a product that we need to watch closely over the next few  years.”  


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