New Zealand engineering and manufacturing firm TRT, takes Cranes and Lifting behind the scenes, providing insights into the reasons behind the success of the TIDD pick and carry range.
The TIDD PC28 articulated pick and carry crane was launched 12 months ago. Robert Carden technical director of engineering and manufacturing TRT, discusses the conception of TIDD and how the design, engineering and manufacturing of the range is evolving.
“At TRT our main philosophy behind product development is inclusion through consultation. At the start of any design and manufacturing process, we like to sit down with the prospective customer. We did this with the design of the TIDD PC28. However, this was a greater industry wide consultation process. Customers have always contributed to the development of the TIDD PC28, talking about the improvements needed, based on the cranes they currently utilise – not just the TIDD.
“In conjunction with this consultative process, we examine the available technologies which can be incorporated into the product ensuring we offer a product that is a marked improvement on what they had before. Our approach is about taking the next step with the customer and that philosophy embeds itself in our new products,” said Carden.
“Internally, TRT focuses on close communication between the various departments involved in the development of products. There is very much a ‘team culture’ which encourages a close working relationship between the design office, the engineering department and the production line – we call it One Team” says Carden.
“Once we get the prototype of a model up and running, there’s a hell of a lot of communication between the guys building and assembling the cranes and the design office and design team.
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“This helps us quietly introduce easier processes into the production line and enabling us to introduce minor design improvements to make it a better product in general. There’s a real team cooperation between our team building and assembling the cranes and the design office in the background as well,” he said.
The TIDD pick and carry was first conceived eight years ago and according to Carden, there were a number of reasons behind launching the product into a competitive market.
“At that stage we were supplying quite a bit of equipment in the access equipment space for including a number of Live Line travel towers in 18m, 24m and 30m configurations. We had also examined the articulated pick and carry market which had been dominated by one brand for a long time. The pick and carry concept fitted into the category of lifting and hydraulics, which has always been our area of expertise. Believing TRT offered products that are better than the competition, we set about designing our own pick and carry,” said Carden.
It took TRT 12 months to develop and manufacture the first prototype and as it was being built, the team brought a number of customers to look at the features of the new crane.
“As a result of the customer feedback, we made quite a few changes throughout the design and manufacturing processes. In fact, the second crane off the production line was almost out before the first. That’s because we brought the first crane back to bring it up to the standard of our production crane,” said Carden.
“But we didn’t stop there. It has been a constant evolution with the market changing throughout the development process. We could see there was demand for a crane that could do more with an increased lifting capacity, so we began work on the TIDD PC28. This is a great example of how keeping manufacturing all inhouse we are agile in product development and can respond quickly to the market, resulting in driving technology development. We may be smaller – but we are not followers.
“Again, with the PC28, we went through a consultative process with our customers asking them about essential key features and which parts would they like to see changed and which parts could be tweaked to create an overall better piece of equipment. Included in this process were the EN13000 regulations which meant safety was always planned as a major feature of the TIDD PC28. From the start, we took a position that we were going to manufacture the safest product on the market,” he said.
According to Carden, an important part of the development process was working closely with Robway on the safety features on the TIDD PC28 which included the technology innovation called Slew Safe.
Slew Safe is designed to prevent rollovers and works with a number of features including audible alarms, LMI warnings and power steering being restricted to 15 per cent to prevent further slewing and moving normally in the safe direction.
“We wanted to ensure the software upgrades engineered into our new model could be provided as software modifications or updates to our earlier cranes. Robway helped us achieve this outcome. It’s the same with other componentry in the TIDD range,”
“We’ve always wanted to keep a range of ‘top end components’ in our crane which are perceived to be the right quality for a quality product, and we’ve done this from the beginning. Take the drive train as an example, the same system from our original crane features in the later model cranes. We have never scrimped on quality because we want to ensure we have the right quality of product for our customers,” said Carden.
The TIDD PC28 was launched just over a year and the response from the market has been very positive says Carden.
“We’ve had really good response. We’ve certainly made inroads with the Australian market and the overall response to the TIDD is positive.
“Of course, things are a little different right now with COVID 19 and we are seeing more caution in decision making, but we see with the government’s help with Stimulus Package on asset depreciation making it easier for businesses to buy new equipment and we think the industry should pick up in the relative short term – and we’re going to back our customers too.
“I think customers can see we’ve been in the market for a fair number of years now. We’ve been listening to the market and we’ve been quietly making changes to our product to follow the changing market demands.
“For us, it’s really been a case of getting the name out there and what we’re experiencing is small-to medium-sized businesses quick to adopt TIDD Cranes,” he said.
According to Carden, it will take a little longer to see change from the larger Tier One contractors and builders.
“It is much easier for larger operations to repeat what they have done in the past. We’ve been successful with people that understand the extra changes we’ve made to the product and they understand what these can do for their operators. It always takes the larger operations a bit longer to change the way they have always done something.
“As far as product support is concerned, we’ve got a strong network and we’re doing well in terms of the supporting the product, which is operating all over the country. We’re working well with the different distributors which are supported by our major parts and distribution centre in Brisbane. We’re pretty happy with the way it’s been going.
“If I look into the crystal ball, it’s actually a fairly murky picture for everyone at the at the moment. But we will come out of this COVID 19 crisis and it will be businesses making smart decisions now, that will be stronger. I believe they will be looking for products that give them more opportunities to hire their cranes in a wide range of markets. We know the TIDD pick and carry meets these criteria,” said Carden.