With an eye on international sales and promoting the pick and carry concept to the global market, Terex exhibited a Franna at ConExpo for the first time. Danny Black, Franna General Manager, explains how the product was received.
While the pick and carry concept is predominantly utilised in Australia, people may find it surprising that the Franna product has been directly exported to 30-plus countries to date.
“From my perspective, the background and my experience with the Franna brand is interesting. I’ve owned a taxi crane business and, back in the day, I operated a crane business for Brambles so my experience over many years has been mixing with Frannas on industrial and mine sites where they have been ‘captive’ to the sites.
“I probably have a stronger focus on this market segment than many of those in the crane sector who use CICA as their barometer, for example. If you look at the industry CICA really looks after the taxi crane segment and that isn’t the whole segment for us,” said Black.
There are challenges for the Franna product in the US market and these revolve around roadability and road registration, which are being worked on. According to Black, there are some states where this will be a straight forward process and others where it will take more time for this to happen. However, this is only the road going component of the market which is a small part of the opportunity as he sees it.
Black said that there are hundreds of mine and industrial sites in the US and numerous major construction projects which Frannas would thrive in and they are all attuned to these opportunities. The idea was always to take the machine to ConExpo, have the conversations with people, talk about the application and talk about the Australian experience. They spoke to numerous US crane companies, crane owners and operators about the population of Frannas in Australia and these people found the figures hard to comprehend. He thinks this is mainly because they had not seen it before, they thought it was a weird concept.
“Many of the crane guys we spoke to have been in the industry for a very long time, 20, 30, 40 years or more in some cases, and initially they had difficulty coming to grips with the concept. But once we got talking you could see how they warmed to the idea and they were thinking about how they could apply it to their own businesses,” said Black.
“As I said, taking the Franna to Conexpo was always about starting the conversation with the US markets and the other markets around the globe that visit the show. The good news is it appears likely we have sold the Franna to one of the largest construction companies in the US and it’s headed for a project in the southern part of the country,” he said.
Black is very optimistic that with Franna in the US market and Australians now working on a number of LNG projects, there will be exponential demand for the product.
“The US market is being well and truly inundated with Australian Project Managers with experience from the Curtis Island plant and the LNG sector over in Western Australia. When the Australian ex-pats get on site they are asking ‘how do we get this done without Frannas?’, he said.
Currently, on these types of projects rough terrains are being used for the construction process says Black.
“Of course, we make the point that with a pick and carry with some capability, as long as you can walk up to your load you can carry it. Generally, you need real estate to set up the rough terrain with its outriggers and have the radius to be able to lift the load.
“Typically, because of the constraints of the site’s real estate you will need a much bigger rough terrain to achieve the same lift. With the Franna you can walk right up to the load. I think there is immense potential for the Franna in the US. The unit we had on display was an AT 22 and featured a Tier 4 final engine and it was left hand drive. We are able to push these through the factory fairly easily,” said Black.
Danny Black, general manager at Franna said he was thrilled with their success at ConExpo 2020 in terms of attendance, sales prospects and opportunity created.
“Having worked for this great business for over 30 years, it was a proud moment to see Franna showcased on the largest international stage. A special word of thanks to the many Australian customers who travelled to Las Vegas to mark the occasion with us,” he said.
The AT 22 is a mid-sized, mobile pick and carry crane with a maximum lifting capacity of 22t. Boasting maximum safety features and superior capabilities than that of other pick and carry cranes in the field, the AT 22 is a logical choice for customers who cover a wide range of applications.
Dynamic LMI (Patent Protected)
First released in 2013, Franna’s patented Dynamic LMI remains as a pillar of safety, underpinning the electronic control and user experience offered today. The system is designed to offer ‘real-time’ calculation of rated capacity taking into account boom configuration, as well as chassis articulation, pitch and roll, enabling continual assessment of structural limitations, forward stability and side stability.
Increased resolution of rated capacity is made possible by finer measurement of articulation pitch and roll angles, allowing for improved machine capability compared to previous generation LMI systems. When operated on a jobsite over undulating terrain, the rated capacity will be updated continually, providing instantaneous information on the percentage utilisation of the machine (0-100 per cent of available capacity). When operating on a side slope or undulating terrain, operators are no longer required to manually calculate a reduction of rated capacity; the Franna Dynamic LMI does that.
Other operational aids include:
- Automatic counterweight detection;
- Operator settable maximum working height;
- Maximum working radius;
- Maximum front axle weight;
- Rigging limits;
- Percentage of rated capacity.
These features further enhance the safe operation of the machine when site conditions get tough and are available in retrofit form for all Mercedes powered Franna cranes.
Black is confident that with the right level of after sales support, parts support and trained technicians this AT 22 is going to be the first of many Frannas in the US.
“We are working with our colleagues in the Terex rough terrain business to ensure we have critical and consumer spares stocked. The first Franna will be supported by the rough terrain facility in Houston and we will stock that branch with the appropriate parts.
“We will provide the Terex US technicians with whatever ‘top up’ training they require relative to the Franna, including diagnostic training and whatever else they need. As the population grows, and if we develop a large resident population on a large project, like a massive LNG project where we might have eight to 10 cranes on site, we would seek to put a permanent technician on that site to support that product,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s a commercial balance to make this a success and we realise it might cost us some money to support the first products in the US, but we are looking at the bigger picture and we are prepared to make that investment.
Overall, taking the Franna to ConExpo was worth their while, according to Black. Not only did its presence generate interest from crane companies there were a number of enquiries from potential distributors.
“We received some fantastic enquiries during the show. We’ve signed a new dealer in the UK and he’s very keen to work with us into the future. We both agree there is a fantastic opportunity for some of the smaller pick and carry cranes in the UK.
“We’ve got another dealer coming on board in West Africa and we also had a lot of interest from Mexico. Talking to our Genie colleagues during the show, I was amazed at how big the Mexican market is. We had introductions to a number of big players around the country who are in mining, construction and the industrial sectors,” he said.
“We had a positive meeting with our distributor in Latin America who are enjoying great success in this territory. It was good for them to come and see the machine and chat to Danny Black, General Manager Terex Australia, Kieran Hegarty, the President of Terex MP and myself,” said Black.
Black has been busy since his return from the show with follow up phone calls including conversations with a major construction equipment dealer on the east coast of America. He confirms they are very interested in the product.
“They are large construction and mining equipment suppliers and also a Manitowoc and Grove dealer, so they spend every day talking to the ultimate end users in the mining, construction and industrial space.
“The AT 22 generated a lot of interest as did the MAC 25 and the AT 40. We chose to focus on the AT 22 because it demonstrated what we can deliver in terms of engineering and the proven capability. That is a Tier 4 final, 22t capacity machine which think is probably the sweet spot for a US industrial or mine site,” said Black.
“We are planning to fast track Tier 5 15s for the European market and Tier 4Fs 22s and 25s ready for the US, Central and Latin America. If we can get a good foot hold in the US, leverage off the successes we are going to have with the first unit and get a solid dealer network in place, I think there is massive potential for the Franna brand in that part of the world,” he said.