Features, Products, West Australia

Full steam ahead for Cranecorp

Despite the challenges of the last 24 months, Cranecorp has continued its strategy of growth, including the continued renewal of its crane fleet and recruitment of key management personnel. Rod White, Cranecorp’s Chief Executive Officer explains more.

“Like every business, covid presented Cranecorp with a unique set of challenges, but we managed to keep everybody in a job and grow the company in new directions. It’s been an incredibly difficult time for our clients which makes it challenging for us,” Rod says. 

“With the addition of our new Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1, we have successfully entered into the civil construction market. With its 500t lifting capacity, this crane has seen us involved in a range of jobs we wouldn’t have considered previously. 

“We’ve continued to thrive in our traditional markets of shutdown and maintenance, where we remain a major player, and we recently secured a significant contract with a major miner which approached us. We agreed contractual terms to have them on board and it has been great to renew that relationship,” he says.

Rod goes on to explain how the Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1 has helped Cranecorp open up new markets. 

“As a result of the new Liebherr, we’ve been involved in a number of high-profile jobs. We changed out six light towers at the WACA Cricket Ground where each tower had to be lifted out changed to LED lighting, and then lifted back into position. 

“There has been a series of wind farm projects undertaken and various bridge construction projects around Perth. 

“It has also been deployed for heavy lifts across the mining industry where previously, we would have cross-hired a crane for the work,” Rod says.

With the new Liebherr Cranecorp changed out six light towers at the WACA Cricket Ground.

“We continue to grow in revenue, profit and headcount both at an operational level and also from a corporate level. With our size we have grown the corporate team to service the needs of the operational side of the business. 

“What’s been great about that is the quality of the people we’ve managed to attract… People who left their incumbent crane company and have chosen to work for Cranecorp is hugely encouraging from my perspective,” he says.

Rod explains how the joint venture with Tutt Bryant has benefitted both companies.

“The JV has been hugely successful in terms of representing us to the market. There are a lot of large projects that often have lead times of between 12 to 18 months. The first cranes required on these projects are often large crawler cranes which Cranecorp doesn’t operate. 

“And likewise, once those projects get going, the requirement for all terrains and pick and carry cranes intensifies, and Tutt Bryant were unable to meet this need. So, by coming together with the JV, both companies have benefitted, along with our clients,” Rod says.

“The joint venture is working on a project which involves a huge logistics element as well as the cranes, which suits Tutt Bryant perfectly with their logistics capability. But between the two of us, we can provide “a one stop shop fits all’ for the client. The ability for a supplier to not only offer to do more but then deliver, is hugely attractive to clients,” he says.

The strength of the Cranecorp fleet is a major part of this success, he says. 

“Traditionally, we operate a Tadano and Demag all terrain/rough terrain fleet and we have done so for many years. Obviously the Liebherr LTM 1500 -8.1 brings a significant asset into the fleet from a different OEM. 

“We were the first company in WA to take on the TIDD brand acquiring six 28T TIDD pick and carry cranes to operate alongside our fleet of over 40 Frannas and we work very closely with both OEMs to support our fleet. We enjoy excellent working relationships with all our major suppliers, and this is critical to our ongoing growth path. 

“We now have three AT40s Frannas in the fleet and they’re a fantastic crane and they’ve been very accepted in the market from both our operators and our clients. They are a much safer way of doing jobs that previously sometimes required the Franna Mac 25 super lift to perform at the top end of its operational limit. 

“Whenever you are using any asset at the limit of its safe operational capacity, you start to increase the potential for an incident. By having a crane that is bigger, heavier, and can lift more, you lower your risk profile, which is good for everybody,” Rod says.

“We are always keen to explore new opportunities for the fleet as OEMs evolve and emerging products and technologies enter the market place. We’ve also taken on a 60t rough-terrain Sany crane. 

“We had the OEM come into the yard and spend a week with us conducting VOC training for our operators in the yard before going to site, where the crane is going to be stationed, and conducting further VOC training for the client in order that both we and the client know how to safely set up and operate the crane. We also worked with the Sany maintenance team so they understood how to look after the machine should it require attention. 

“Another part of our success with the Demag fleet is that we have standardised to the 160T and the 300T AC160 and AC300 cranes. That means our people get to know the crane. We don’t have to retrain every time we get a new crane, they’re familiar with it and that leads to safer and more effective operational performance, something our clients really appreciate. 

“There are synergies between the various components which you can use during the course of the crane’s operating life. And by having more of the same type of crane, we’ve found that the operators get very used to them, less risk of incidents, more familiarity, and they’ve been a very reliable and efficient crane for us,” he says.

In terms of parts and support for the fleet, Rod discusses how Cranecorp has managed its supply chains.

Cranecorp has been involved in a series of wind farm projects undertaken and various bridge construction projects around Perth.

“All our supplies have been good, we’ve had to be patient with the global supply chain and lack of containers and shipping in circulation, but in the circumstances, we’ve not experienced any issues in respect to parts or any material issues and we have managed to effectively keep our fleet operating as normal.

“We did require one major component which had to be shipped from Germany and our team and Tadano worked very, very closely on securing the best route for that part so that we could get that here as fast as we needed to at the best possible cost. This was made all the more challenging due to the size of the component part that meant the number of ships it could be transported on were very limited however in the end it all came together” he said.

“I think the next 24 months are going to
be driven by three factors:

(1)  Supply chain issues 

(2)  Ten year major inspection requirements

(3)  A lack of skilled resources within WA in almost every sector.

The lead time to acquire a new crane, of almost any brand or type of crane, is currently the longest it has been for many years. Coupled with this long lead time is the inability to get a crane booked in for a major inspection and have any rectification works completed on budget and within reasonable time frames. Everyone is fully booked and understaffed,” Rod says.

“There’s a short supply of replacement cranes and you can’t get older ones cost effectively refurbished and furthermore the price of new cranes has gone through the roof, largely driven by steel and labour costs in the manufacturing countries. It’s going to be a very challenging time.

“Larger companies who buy new cranes more frequently will consequently have cranes in the marketplace that will have cost significantly more than those cranes that they are competing against and there is a real danger that the ROI required to operate those cranes will prove difficult to achieve. So, it’s going to be an extremely challenging couple of years for everyone to manage. 

“When I say it’s going to be tough, it’s not a glib statement. For example, a ‘blue chip’ mining company recently reported their annual results and commented that they had grown exports in terms of volume, and they grew their revenues, but their financial performance declined due to increasing costs. When companies such as this experience increasing costs, the crane industry needs to take note because this invariably starts the pendulum swinging towards cost reduction initiatives,” he said.

“We are looking at an environment which will sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of managing to hold prices and raise prices in order to maintain profitability. 

“If you start going backwards from a profitability point of view and labour, fuel and materials are all getting more expensive… that’s not good for the industry or for any crane company,” Rod says.

“But as I started out saying, more recently we have been fortunate to recruit a number of key executives into leadership roles within the business and I am extremely confident we have the right team in place for what will be difficult times ahead.” 

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